February 22, 2024

Egg freezing blurs “experimental” label

For many women, freezing eggs is an uncertain business. Few women who have frozen their eggs a race against the clock have tried to use them, according to John Jain, of Santa Monica Fertility in California.

Freezing eggs is an uncertain business. Few women have used them afterwards, according to John Jain, of Santa Monica Fertility in California. He estimates that, worldwide, fewer than 10 babies have been born from eggs frozen for women aged 38 or over. And no one knows how successful the freezing and thawing of older eggs will be — despite the fact that most women now seeking the service are over 38.

Recommendations by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) – the advisory body to the US fertility industry – reflects these uncertainties, but the practices of its members do not, even some of those who wrote the guidelines. The ASRM states that oocyte cryopreservation should not yet be offered to older women as a method for extending their fertility.

It also says that all egg freezing should be considered experimental, and be conducted as part of a research project governed by an institutional review board (IRB), which is meant to monitor, review and approve the research. While most fertility doctors go through the motions of research, such as getting IRB approval, many do not consider the procedure experimental, or their clients test subjects.

Calling the procedure experimental without genuinely treating it as such leaves women with all the pitfalls of experimental science but few of the protections, according to Gerald Schatz, of non-profit Citizens for Responsible Care and Research. If it’s really research, he says, there should be a well-designed trial every time, results should be reported, fees should be lowered and there should be safety monitoring. ~ Nature News, Aug 23 

Egg freezing blurs “experimental” label
Jared Yee