Reproductive technology and the life course: current debates and research in social egg freezing

Abstract

While there are currently few confirmed births from previously frozen eggs in the UK, the improved outcomes of new technologies of vitrification and intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) have led to the marketing of egg freezing for non-medical reasons, whereby women are offered the possibility of preserving their eggs until such time as they wish to have a child. Non-academic commentary on this phenomenon has commonly constructed it within a neo-liberal discourse of 'choice', whereby women are positioned as choosing to 'delay motherhood,' often for reasons relating to their careers. However, there have been relatively few research studies which explore either women's awareness and understandings of social egg freezing or the reasons why women consider or undertake egg freezing. This paper summarises the current academic discussion surrounding social egg freezing and outlines the limited body of empirical literature identified from a systematic search of relevant databases. The potential benefits and harms of social egg freezing and the ethical issues it raises are well rehearsed in existing literature, but there is limited empirical evidence about who is accessing social egg freezing, why they are taking this option and what their experiences and future intentions are.

Description

Keywords

Fertility preservation, egg freezing, fertility, gamete storage/cryopreservation, social egg freezing

Citation

Baldwin, K. Culley, L. Hudson, N. Mitchell, H. (2014) Reproductive technology and the life course: current debates and research in social egg freezing, Human Fertility, 17 (3), pp. 170-179

Rights

Research Institute

Centre for Reproduction Research (CRR)