Oocyte cryopreservation is on the rise, and whether a woman freezes her eggs before undergoing medical treatment that could leave her infertile or undergoes an elective procedure to avoid concerns about reproductive aging, extensive counseling should be the norm. This is not the case, however, and a proposed universal outline of key counseling points and risk factors should be provided to all women, regardless of age and reason for pursuing oocyte cryopreservation, as described in a new study published in Journal of Women’s Health, a peer-reviewed publication from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Journal of Women’s Health website.
Coauthors Gloria Bachmann, MD, Taleen MacArthur, and Kavisha Khanuja, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (Piscataway, NJ), reviewed the medical literature to determine current counseling practices for women undergoing elective oocyte cryopreservation and found no uniform guidelines. Young, healthy women who choose to freeze their eggs for later use may not be aware of the greater potential risks, for both the mother and unborn child, associated with pregnancy in older mothers. In the article entitled, “Need for Comprehensive Counseling in Women Requesting Oocyte Cryopreservation,” the authors present data to support more extensive counseling for women who choose to freeze their eggs for later use, similar to that provided to women undergoing assisted reproductive technologies to pursue near-term pregnancies.
“When a woman of any age chooses to undergo egg retrieval and cryopreservation she should have access to the knowledge and counseling available to be able to make a truly informed decision,” says Susan G. Kornstein, MD, Editor-in-Chief of Journal of Women’s Health, Executive Director of the Virginia Commonwealth University Institute for Women’s Health, Richmond, VA, and President of the Academy of Women’s Health. “As Bachmann et al. point out, the scope of that information should not differ depending on the age of the woman at the time of oocyte cryopreservation, reason for the procedure, or plans for future pregnancy.”