Respecting autonomy—a call for truth in commercial advertising for planned oocyte cryopreservation

Inklings

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Volume 113, Issue 4, Pages 743–744

Authors:

Michelle J. Bayefsky, B.A.a, Alan H. DeCherney, M.D.b, Louise P. King, M.D., J.D.c,d

Abstract:

Over the past decade, the number of women undergoing planned oocyte cryopreservation (pOC) has risen dramatically. According to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, 475 women underwent pOC in 2009 and 9,042 in 2017. The demographics of women choosing pOC have also shifted; in 2009, 47% were under 38, whereas in 2017, 64% were under 38 years of age. The decision to freeze eggs for nonmedical reasons may seem empowering to some, but if women choose pOC because of an inaccurate perception of the promises of the technology, power may actually have been compromised.


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Fertility and Sterility

Editorial Office, American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Fertility and Sterility® is an international journal for obstetricians, gynecologists, reproductive endocrinologists, urologists, basic scientists and others who treat and investigate problems of infertility and human reproductive disorders. The journal publishes juried original scientific articles in clinical and laboratory research relevant to reproductive endocrinology, urology, andrology, physiology, immunology, genetics, contraception, and menopause. Fertility and Sterility® encourages and supports meaningful basic and clinical research, and facilitates and promotes excellence in professional education, in the field of reproductive medicine.

1 Comments

Go to the profile of Alexander Quaas
Alexander Quaas 7 months ago

This "inklings" piece provides an interesting perspective on the topic of advertising in planned oocyte cryopreservation (pOC). It is the topic of this week's "tweetorial" on the official Fertility+Sterility @Twitter account (Follow @FertStert to see it).

The authors emphasize that physicians face the daunting task of providing adequate balanced counseling about pOC in the face of aggressive marketing and advertising by egg freezing companies, which may misrepresent medical facts.

This is very true and important. However I would point out that physicians are not always completely innocent in this context, and that some providers counsel their patients in biased ways in order to convince patients to undergo pOC. 

Brigitte Adams, the "poster child" of egg freezing in 2014, gave an impressive plenary lecture at the 2019 ASRM meeting, and warned that there would be a rude awakening for all the hopeful women who underwent pOC and were told that it would be a safe "insurance policy" to "stop the biological clock".

Physicians must protect patient autonomy by guiding "balanced, rational decision-making", as the authors of this article point out. They should also "advocate for women- and family-friendly government policies and employer practices". Hopefully the "call to action" by the authors of this inklings' piece will be heard.