Unquestionable medical risks and limited benefits
Over the last decade, the number of women using “Social Freezing” (cryopreserving their eggs for social, non-medical reasons when they are young to use them at a later date) has increased dramatically (read HERE). According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, 9,042 women used social freezing in 2017, compared to just 475 in 2009. The demographic characteristics of these women have also changed significantly: in 2017, 64% were under 38 years old, compared to 47% in 2009.
Read HERE our previous articles on the issue
The decision to cryopreserve (freeze) their eggs for non-medical reasons may seem to have helped to empower women, but according to the authors of the aforementioned paper, this may not be the case.
IVF Clinics economical interest
Moreover, the increase in social freezing among women under 30 may be due to pressure from advertising companies targeting young women. In our view, this is an unethical practice, as it is something with unquestionable medical risks and limited benefits. Attempts have been made to justify social freezing on the basis of 3 premises:
- a) egg freezing is a kind of insurance against age-related infertility problems;
- b) the younger the woman when the eggs are frozen, the better;
- c) egg freezing stops the biological clock.
Social freezing misinformation. Adequate information is needed
However, the medical evidence does not support these claims. Data suggest that, to guarantee the subsequent birth of a child, with a 97% likelihood, a woman would need to freeze around 40 eggs. This requires three or four ovarian stimulation cycles, at a cost of about $10,000 per cycle. If a woman under 35 years old undergoes one hormone stimulation cycle and several eggs are removed, she may have a 75%-80% chance of having a child. Although these percentages seem relatively favorable, they cannot guarantee that women will achieve their goal. For this reason, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and other medical associations are working to provide women who use social freezing with adequate information.
From a bioethical point of view, there is no doubt that social freezing has objective drawbacks, which we have evaluated in-depth in a previous special report.