Egg freezing to postpone pregnancy does not appeal to French women

Published on December 3, 2015, a survey from the Odoxa institute, carried out in a private Spanish fertility center, the Eugin clinic, reported the majority of French (59%) were opposed to legalizing the freezing of ovocytes for non-medical reasons by women who wished to postpone pregnancy to a later date.

This technique would allow women to conserve their reproductive cells while still young in order to become mothers at a later date. Currently in France, this is not authorized except for medical reasons, for example before chemotherapy which potentially leaves the woman infertile.

The idea of extending this possibility to all women was not unanimously received. As for the idea of personally having recourse to this procedure, if it were authorized in France, 83% of the women responded in the negative.

The reasons cited by those questioned regarding their misgivings to push forward the law were first of all, moral and ethical considerations. Vitrification ‘for reasons of personal convenience” implies the risk of selecting embryos for 37% of the women. 25% mention the fear of commercially exploiting the distress of women, and another 25% esteem the procedure to be “against human nature”. 11% of those interrogated were concerned that this procedure would reinforce the idea that motherhood prevents career advancement.

At the end of 2012, the National board of French gynecologists and obstetricians declared they were favorable to using this technique “for personal convenience”. Nonetheless, there is nothing innocuous about it. It requires the woman to submit to exams, then an ovarian stimulation followed by a surgical intervention to retrieve the ovocytes in the ovaries. The risks related to this procedure are not zero. Furthermore, freezing ovocytes does not guarantee pregnancy at a later date, using in vitro fertilization. According to Eugin, for women aged 35 to 37 who kept their ovocytes frozen, only 62% would have a chance to have a child. A percentage that drops to 52% for women aged 38 to 40.

Recall that we are still awaiting a recommendation from the French National Consultative Ethics Committee on society questions related to medically assisted reproduction. These questions could be addressed within that framework.

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