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Half of women who freeze eggs have regrets

29 May 2018
Appeared in BioNews 951

A survey of women who chose to freeze their eggs has shown that around half experienced some regret, despite most saying they were happy with their decision.

The popularity of elective oocyte cryopreservation (EOC) – freezing eggs for non-medical reasons – has increased dramatically over the past decade. However, egg freezing does not guarantee future children and the procedure itself can be both physically and emotionally challenging and have significant financial implications. 

'As oocyte cryopreservation takes off, we wanted to take a step back to understand how this technology might impact the trajectory of women's lives,' stated co-author Dr Heather Huddleston at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

The study, published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, surveyed 201 women who had undergone EOC for non-medical reasons between 2012 and 2016. 

Over 80 percent of the study participants felt that they had gained more control and possessed more options in terms of achieving their reproductive goals following egg freezing, and 89 percent were happy with their decision to undergo EOC even if they never used their frozen eggs. 

However, the researchers also found that 33 percent of the participants exhibited some form of mild decision regret, and a further 16 percent of women exhibited moderate to severe decision regret. 

The likelihood of experiencing regret post-EOC was influenced by four main factors: the number of eggs that the participant was able to store, the probability of achieving a pregnancy from the stored eggs (as estimated by the participant), the degree of emotional support the participant experienced during the procedure, and the adequacy of the information that the participants received when deciding whether to proceed with EOC. 

The study also highlighted areas for potential long-term disappointment. Six percent of the women in the study believed that their probability of achieving a live birth with their frozen eggs was 100 percent. Unrealistic expectations could potentially result in 'compromised outcomes and create regret,' said co-author Dr Eleni Greenwood, also at UCSF. 

'The concern exists that EOC might impact subsequent reproductive choices and behaviours.'

Egg-freezing regrets: Half of women who undergo the procedure have regrets
Washington Post |  18 May 2018
Women sometimes feel regret after electing to freeze their eggs
Science Daily |  18 May 2018
17 September 2018 - by Georgia Everett 
The age at which a woman freezes her eggs has a significant impact on IVF success when they are thawed, suggests a new report by the UK's fertility regulator...
13 August 2018 - by Dr Sam Sherratt 
Women who freeze their eggs for social reasons need to be better informed about the potential difficulties of the process, experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have warned...
9 July 2018 - by Georgia Everett 
Women are more likely to freeze their eggs due to a lack of a stable partner, rather than for career planning, according to a new study...
23 April 2018 - by Professor Joyce Harper, Dr Kylie Baldwin, Dr Lucy Van de Wiel and Professor Jacky Boivin 
In the UK, the storage limit for eggs frozen for social reasons is currently limited to ten years: too short for healthy young women wanting to preserve their opportunities to conceive later in life...
26 March 2018 - by Dr Zeynep Gurtin 
Last week, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority released its much-anticipated report 'Fertility Treatment 2014-2016 - Trends and Figures', providing the latest available data regarding fertility treatments in the UK
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