Egg freezing for fertility preservation is relatively new and there is not a lot of information available about how women perceive this technology. This information will help doctors counsel their patients on the wisdom of pursuing this procedure in the context of their lives. It can also help others make the decision to consider fertility preservation at an age when it’s effective.
A new exploratory study questioned how women perceived the medical aspects of egg freezing with the intention of increasing their chances of achieving pregnancy after their fertility had declined. The women were, on average, 36 years old. They opted for egg banking because they wished to share parenthood with a future partner rather than becoming a single parent. This strong desire seemed to overrule all aspects of the intervention. Women set aside information about the realistic success rates and potential risks because they were optimistic about their own prognosis. They believed their chances of success would be higher because they were healthy and their mothers, sisters, or both, had no fertility issues.
They exhibited binary thinking because their chances for success were equally likely as the chances for failure. They feared “anticipatory regret” and might be remorseful later if they had not taken any action. They perceived egg banking as a “helping hand” to fulfill their strong desire to share parenthood. Although women found the costs of the intervention high, they were willing to invest their money to increase their chances for shared parenthood.
As one would guess, the prospect of potential shared parenthood overrules the perceived health
risks and burden. The study was quite small, but the authors believed that after 15 interviews they had “data saturation” and confirmed their findings with five additional interviews. Another limitation was these women were on a waiting list and ultimately might have different perceptions than those women who proceed with the oocyte banking. As we counsel women on egg banking, considering these themes and findings will be useful, as will making sure the patients understand the actual success rate.