Updated 21 December 2018

'Panic parenting' fear drives many women to freeze eggs

Many more women are now considering the option of freezing their eggs as a way of extending the window of time they have to pursue genetic motherhood.

Trying to avoid "panic parenting" is the reason why many single women freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons, a small new study suggests.

Panic parenting refers to having a relationship just to have a baby.

"Whilst the number of women freezing their eggs remains small, many more are now considering this option as a way of extending the window of time they have to pursue genetic motherhood," said researcher Kylie Baldwin, from the Centre for Reproduction Research at De Montfort University in Leicester, England.

"Clinics providing this technology have a responsibility to support informed decision-making by providing women who inquire about egg freezing with detailed information about the likelihood of achieving a live birth specific to their age at freezing," Baldwin added.

Finding a suitable partner

In the study, Baldwin's team interviewed 31 women, 84% of whom were single, who had their eggs frozen for "social" reasons. The women's average age was 37. The group included 23 women from the United Kingdom, seven from the United States, and one from Norway.

The most common reason for egg freezing was not having a partner or having a partner who wouldn't commit to fatherhood, the findings showed.

Some of the women said they wanted to relieve the pressure of trying to find a suitable partner. Many said they hoped never to have to use their frozen eggs because they would conceive naturally with a future partner. Several said that freezing their eggs was emotionally difficult because they wanted to become mothers with a committed partner.

Costs and risks

The researchers also found that the information available to women considering freezing their eggs was inadequate. For example, nearly all of the women said the clinics they talked with couldn't provide an estimate of the chances of a live birth with the frozen eggs. There was also little in-depth discussion with doctors about processes and outcomes after egg freezing.

The study was published online in the journal Human Fertility.

Growing numbers of women are considering egg freezing, so more needs to be done to fully inform and support those who have the procedure, according to the researchers.

"Furthermore, women should be informed of the costs and risks, as well as the physical and emotional demands of egg freezing and any future [in vitro fertilisation] treatment," Baldwin added in a journal news release.

Image credit: iStock


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