CHR cautions against over-commercialization of “social” and underutilization of “medically indicated” fertility preservation

For immediate release

September 29, 2014 (New York, NY) – Social egg freezing—egg freezing to delay childbirth, unrelated to medical emergencies—is considered experimental and must be offered in conjunction with a full explanation of this status. A growing number of IVF centers are promoting social egg freezing without proper informed consent processes, according to the new OPINION piece published by The Center for Human Reproduction (CHR).

Female fertility preservation is currently practiced for two main reasons. The first involves medically indicated fertility preservation, which is offered if life-saving medical treatments threaten the ovaries with early menopause. Chemotherapy for cancer is a prominent example, but a variety of other treatments can also be damaging to the ovaries. The second type of fertility preservation is often referred to as “social” fertility preservation. In these cases, healthy women elect to preserve their fertility when they are afraid that their ovaries will age before they are ready to start a family.

In cases of “medically indicated” fertility preservation, loss of fertility due to life-saving treatment is almost certain. The balance of risks and potential benefits is therefore clearly in favor of fertility preservation. The risk/benefit consideration in cases of “social” freezing is, however, very different. According to CHR’s new OPINION piece “social” fertility preservation is rightly still considered an experimental procedure, while “medically indicated” egg freezing is no longer considered to be.

CHR’s OPINION argues that “social” fertility preservation is being “oversold,” while “medically indicated” fertility preservation, despite many successful efforts, is still being underutilized. Often, “social” fertility preservation is offered without explanation of its experimental status since, “unfortunately, commercial interests have in recent years co-opted many fertility centers into commercial enterprises, which are strongly incentivized financially to actively drive women into the process of fertility preservation,” explains Norbert Gleicher, MD, Medical Director and Chief Scientist of CHR.

“We are concerned that potential abuses in the utilization of social fertility preservation will end up discrediting a very important, very valuable and potentially life-changing treatment opportunity for women who have reasons to delay their pregnancies,” says Dr. Gleicher. “Recent excessive marketing efforts (such as ‘egg-freezing parties’) are indicative of a disturbing trend towards commercialization of social fertility preservation while, at the same time, less lucrative ‘medically indicated’ fertility preservation remains underutilized.”

About Center for Human Reproduction
The Center for Human Reproduction (CHR), located in New York City, is a leading clinical and research center in reproductive medicine and infertility, with rare capabilities to freeze ovarian tissue. Independently vocal on issues impacting fertility patients, CHR has become known nationally and internationally as a center of independent thinking in the profession. Dr. Gleicher is available for additional comments.


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