A new study has revealed that when single women freeze their eggs for non-medical purposes, they are doing so to avoid “panic parenting,” or settling for a relationship just for the sake of having a child. The findings of the research also indicate that clinics need to be more straightforward with women about the likelihood of having a baby with these eggs in the future.
Dr. Kylie Baldwin and Professor Lorraine Culley of the Centre for Reproduction Research interviewed 31 women who had frozen their eggs for “social” reasons. Among the participants, the average age was 37 and 84 percent were single.
The women reported on what the experience was like for them, why they had chosen this process, and shared any information they were provided about the probability of achieving a live birth with their frozen eggs.
For the majority of the women, the most common reason for egg freezing was not having a partner, or at least not one that was ready and willing to have children. Some of the participants described the process as a way to relieve the pressure of finding the right person, giving them more “breathing time.”
Many of the women expressed the desire to conceive naturally in the future, and hoped that they never needed to use their frozen eggs. For some, the process was emotionally difficult because they wished that they were pursuing motherhood with a committed partner instead of freezing their eggs.
Shockingly, nearly all of the women said that the clinics were unable to provide an estimate of the likelihood of a future live birth with their frozen eggs. The women were not given age-specific information, and there was a lack of detailed discussion with doctors about post-freezing processes and outcomes.
The study authors are calling for more to be done to support women who are going through this process.
“Whilst the number of women freezing their eggs remains small, many more are now considering this option as a way of extending the window of time they have to pursue genetic motherhood,” said Dr. Baldwin. “Clinics providing this technology have a responsibility to support informed decision-making by providing women who enquire about egg freezing with detailed information about the likelihood of achieving a live birth specific to their age at freezing.”
“Furthermore, women should be informed of the costs and risks, as well as the physical and emotional demands of egg freezing and any future IVF treatment. Clinics should also be aware of the specific emotional needs of women undergoing egg freezing who are more likely than IVF patients to be undertaking this uncertain and ambiguous process without the support of a partner.”
The study is published in the journal Human Fertility.