Egg Freezing as an Employee Benefit? Gynecologists Have Mixed Views

Mary Beth Nierengarten


November 24, 2014

In This Article

The Case Against Universal Freezing

While egg freezing provides a good option for some women, Samantha M. Pfeifer, MD, said that encouraging it for all women is not a good idea.

Dr Pfeifer, associate professor of clinical reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, said that many issues still need to be answered. These include the appropriate age at which to freeze eggs, how long eggs can be frozen, how many women will use their frozen eggs, and the risk-benefit ratio for each individual woman given her age and other factors.

"A lot of issues need to be considered from a societal, business, and personal level to see what is the right thing," said Dr Pfeifer, who is also chair of ASRM's Practice Committee. She said that it's also important to tell patients that there is no guarantee that egg freezing will be 100% successful, as this is still not the case with IVF even under the best circumstances.

Dr Pfeifer stresses the need to educate women that fertility is finite and starts to decline after age 35 years, and, if they have a choice, they should try to have a baby sooner rather than later. She also thinks it is important to talk to women about all alternatives, including adoption and using an egg donor.

Robert Rebar, MD, past executive director of the ASRM, said that most egg freezing programs do not yet have sufficient experience or evidence to support offering egg freezing for women other than for medical reasons.

"How do you justify social egg freezing at the 400 or so programs that exist in the United States when very few of these programs have experience with thawing eggs, fertilizing them, and ultimately producing a baby?" he said.

He noted that studies showing that the use of frozen eggs is equivalent to fresh eggs in yielding similar pregnancy rates when done in younger women were all done at the best centers in the world.[4,5]

"If I were a patient considering egg freezing," he said, "I would want to see the experience of the program I was considering, because not all programs are equal."

While ASRM meets three times a year to discuss whether the data are yet sufficient to change its practice parameter on egg freezing, Dr Rebar said he is doubtful that the society will ever make the recommendation for egg freezing other than for medical reasons to preserve fertility.

"This procedure is very expensive, very time- and resource-consuming, and is emotionally and physically demanding for patients," he said. "How do you justify doing that for everyone?"


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