Researchers in Southampton have discovered most women support egg freezing to preserve fertility – and almost half would consider the treatment.
In a pioneering study, Dr Camille Lallemant and her team at the Princess Anne Hospital’s Complete Fertility Centre questioned 973 women of an average age of 31 years in the UK and Denmark via an anonymous online survey.
Results showed the majority of respondents (83%) had heard of egg freezing – known as oocyte freezing – and nearly all of them (99.4%) considered it acceptable for medical reasons, such as before the start of cancer treatment.
Almost as many (89.1%) considered it acceptable in order to delay the start of their family until social and domestic circumstances were more appropriate.
In addition, 19% of respondents in the survey said they were actively considering oocyte freezing treatment themselves, with another 27% interested in the technique.
“Until very recently, no options for preserving fertility in order to delay childbearing existed, but vitrification has revolutionised oocyte freezing and made it effective and convenient,” explained Dr Lallemant.
“However, before the launch of this study, we were still not clear to what extent women were aware of its possibilities and limitations, or of attitudes towards its use or the circumstances in which they might consider it.”
The researchers also found women were more concerned with their biological clock than their careers, with being under 35 years old, not having a partner by that age, childlessness and a history of infertility cited as reasons women might want to consider egg freezing.
Dr Lallemant said: “In terms of personal circumstances, career aspirations remain less important than the biological clock and having found a partner by age 35.”
In the UK, oocyte freezing is still described as a relatively new development, with fewer than 20 live births reported by December 2012.
She added: “While both our clinics in Southampton and Copenhagen receive many enquiries about options for fertility planning, few women as yet have actually chosen oocyte freezing for this purpose, though we are however seeing growing interest in the technique.”
The findings were presented today at the annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Munich.
Posted on Tuesday 1 July 2014