What do reproductive age women who undergo oocyte cryopreservation think about the process as a means to preserve fertility

Capsule:
Women electing oocyte cryopreservation know about age-related infertility yet continue to delay childbearing. Fertility preservation can increase a woman’s security regarding her reproductive future.

Authors:
Brooke Hodes-Wertz, M.D., M.P.H., Sarah Druckenmiller , B.S., Meghan Smith, B.A., Nicole Noyes, M.D.

Volume 100, Issue 5, Pages 1343-1349.e2, November 2013

Abstract:

Objective:
To better understand women’s beliefs, priorities, and attitudes toward oocyte cryopreservation, to appreciate the extent of their reproductive education, and to track the reproductive paths of women who chose to undergo oocyte cryopreservation treatment.

Design:
An anonymous 30-question survey.

Setting:
Not applicable.

Patient(s):
From 2005–2011, 478 women completed ≥1 oocyte cryopreservation treatment cycle at our center to defer reproduction.

Intervention(s):
None.

Main Outcome Measure(s):
Demographics, motivations, desires, fertility knowledge, and outcomes related to oocyte cryopreservation.

Result(s):
A total of 183 patients (38%) completed the survey with >80% being aged ≥35 years; white; having no partner at time of oocyte cryopreservation; undergoing oocyte cryopreservation after an optimal reproductive age; feeling they had improved their reproductive future after oocyte cryopreservation and being empowered by the process; aware of age-related infertility; sensing popular media falsely portrayed the upper age limit for natural conception; and recorded lack of partner as the primary rationale for not yet starting a family. Nineteen percent of respondents added that workplace inflexibility contributed to their reproductive dilemma. Half stated they learned about oocyte cryopreservation from a friend; others became aware through a medical provider, the media, and the internet. Most patients (93%) have not yet returned to use their frozen oocytes; 11 stated they had. Overall, 20% reported a successful conception after oocyte cryopreservation.

Conclusion(s):
Surveying oocyte cryopreservation patients provides a glimpse into the knowledge base and motivations surrounding current female reproductive practices. Oocyte cryopreservation technology may prove to bridge the gap between reproductive prime and when a woman is realistically “ready” to have children.

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