Egg Freezing to Avoid “Panic Parenting”
A new study published in Human Fertility suggests that most single women who freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons (“social freezing”) are doing so to avoid “panic parenting,” that is, entering into unstable relationships to have their genetically-own children.
Professor Lorraine Culley and Dr Kylie Baldwin of the Centre for Reproduction Research at De Montfort University interviewed 31 women (average age 37) who had frozen their eggs to preserve their reproductive options. The participants were asked why they had chosen to do this, how they regarded the experience, and the quality of information they had been provided about the probability of eventually having a baby with frozen-thawed eggs.
Twenty-six of the participants were single, and the lack of a partner, or having a partner not willing to commit to parenthood was the most common reason for elective egg freezing. Some found the process as a stress-reliever and others felt that they had short-circuited the proverbial “biological clock,” allowing them time to find a suitable partner. Many considered egg freezing as an “insurance policy,” and hoped to conceive naturally with a future partner, never needing to use their frozen eggs. A number of the group found the process emotionally trying and would have much preferred pursuing motherhood with a committed partner.
Disconcerting is the fact that the clinical information available to these women was deemed to be inadequate. Nearly all the participants reported that the clinics from which they sought help were unable to provide an estimate of the likelihood of a future live birth with cryopreserved eggs. In particular the physicians did not provide a detailed discussion regarding freeze/thaw procedures and the women were not given clinic- or age-specific success rates.
For many years the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Orlando has been providing fertility preservation for women and men (elective “social freezing” and cancer patients) and every effort is made to provide a thorough and compassionate informed consent process with discussions of indications, risks, potential benefits, complications, emotional and financial costs, as well as age-specific and clinic-specific success rates.
Kylie Baldwin, Lorraine Culley: Women’s experience of social egg freezing: perceptions of success, risks, and ‘going it alone’. Human Fertility, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/14647273.2018.1522456