Posthumous reproduction with surplus in vitro fertilization embryos A study exploring users choices

Although posthumous assisted reproduction (PAR) appears to be acceptable to a majority of IVF users, further research is required on how to ensure that their consent for PAR is well informed.

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Stephanie Cote, M.Sc., Aliya Affdal, M.Sc., Isaac-Jacques Kadoch, M.D., Pavel Hamet, M.D., Ph.D. Vardit Ravitsky, Ph.D.

Volume 102, Issue 5, Pages 1410–1415



To report results of analysis of in vitro fertilization (IVF) users’ choices regarding the potential use of their surplus cryopreserved embryos for posthumous assisted reproduction (PAR).


Examination of signed consent forms.


The study was carried out at the public IVF clinic of a university medical center.


A total of 498 individuals who had signed consent forms for cryopreservation of surplus embryos.


Content analysis of consent form.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Agreement to PAR; importance of appropriate counseling within the consent process.


Approximately 68% of individuals consented to the use of surplus embryos for embryologist training and improvement of assisted reproductive techniques, and 56% consented to the use of surplus embryos in a research project; 73.5% of men and 61.8% of women agreed to leave their cryopreserved embryos to their partners for reproductive use in the event of their death.


Our results demonstrate that a majority of both men and women agree to leave their frozen embryos to their partners for PAR in a “real life” context, i.e., in which they were required to provide consent for this prospective option. PAR involves complex issues, including the psychologic aspects of initiating a pregnancy while mourning the loss of a loved one or the effect on the prospective child. We argue that in light of the acceptability of PAR—as demonstrated by our results—further research is required regarding how to best counsel and inform IVF users about the choices they are making in this context, to ensure that their consent for PAR is in fact well informed.

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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.