Preserving fertility through egg freezing
Reproductive & Gynaecological As fertility rates in Europe drop, public acceptance for egg-freezing practices and IVF treatment is highly positive.
What is egg-freezing?
Oocyte cryopreservation – also known as egg-freezing – is a process for preventing future infertility.
Egg-freezing is aimed at two particular groups of women: those diagnosed with cancer who have not yet begun chemotherapy, or with any other medical condition for which treatment may alter future fertility; and those who would like to preserve their future ability to have children, either because they do not yet have a partner, or for other personal or medical reasons (egg-freezing for preserving future fertility not related to medical treatment that could alter fertility, is also known as “social freezing”).
Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are toxic for oocytes, leaving few, if any, viable eggs. Egg-freezing offers women with cancer the chance to preserve their eggs so that they can have children in the future.
Additionally, women with a family history of early menopause may have an interest in fertility preservation. With egg-freezing, they will have a frozen store of eggs, in case their eggs are depleted at an early age.
In September 2016, an online questionnaire distributed to 8,682 individuals throughout six EU countries was conducted with the goal of assessing the perception of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and fertility preservation using oocyte-freezing among European men and women.
The survey, which was called LIFE (Listening in: IVF and Fertility in Europe), indicated wide acceptance of IVF and oocyte-freezing for both lifestyle and medical reasons.
Oocyte cryopreservation for fertility preservation is generally available to women diagnosed with cancer or other medical conditions that could affect fertility and to those that choose to delay family planning for lifestyle reasons.
LIFE survey, conducted in UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden, has assessed the public attitudes and opinions toward IVF and oocyte-freezing, together with the beliefs surrounding the treatment, it’s success, the need for public funding and the use of IVF among different lifestyles.
Among the 6,110 respondents (70 per cent of the total) 61 per cent demonstrated support for IVF in single woman and 64 per cent for same sex couples. Interestingly, 84 per cent of the respondents showed support for oocyte freezing for medical reasons and 60 per cent for lifestyle decisions. With different views on how IVF and oocyte preservation should be funded (if publicly or privately) the survey provides a view on the general acceptance of IVF and cryopreservation among Europeans. The findings could drive discussions among patients and prescribers to explore either IVF treatment and/or oocyte-freezing and among legislators and payers for the funding of these procedures.
The LIFE survey results are currently under review by a group of experts in the field of fertility treatment and sociology and will be published in a peer reviewed journal before the end of 2018.
Source: B.C.J.M. Fauser, R. Levy-Toledano; Public perception of In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and fertility preservation : assessed by the Listening IVF and Fertility in Europe (LIFE) survey; Abstracts of the 33rd Annual Meeting of ESHRE, Geneva, Switzerland 2 to 5 July 2017
Note: The survey has been supported by Teva Women’s Health (today Theramex)