What does it mean to preserve female fertility?
This is a very broad topic, on the one hand we can think of all those precautions that allow us to take care of our well-being. Paying attention to what we eat or assume, physical activity, the adoption of non-risk behaviors that could expose us to sexually transmitted diseases that can compromise fertility.
Preserving fertility from a strictly medical / reproductive point of view also means being able to resort to those particular methods that allow cells and tissues to be cryopreserved to plan a future pregnancy.
Nowadays there are various more or less experimental possibilities such as the vitrification of oocytes which has now become a gold standard in assisted fertilization processes, and the cryopreservation of ovarian tissue.
Freezing your own eggs for precautionary purposes, also commonly called social freezing, allows you to keep your gametes in order to have a pregnancy with your gametes, when it is deemed most appropriate.
There are various reasons that can lead a woman or a couple to freeze their gametes. For example, they can be health, social, economic or emotional reasons. In any case, it is a practice that is gaining ground in the United States where it is even made available to employees of large companies.
In Italy there is little talk of it although ours is a country where couples increasingly resort to the donation of gametes (heterologous fertilization), when the pregnancy does not arrive for reasons often related to the age of the woman.
Does it make sense to consciously freeze eggs to preserve your fertility?
The preventive cryopreservation of oocytes, carried out on all women, would have several advantages.
- if a couple decides to have a child after an illness that required chemotherapy, they can use cryopreserved oocytes and spermatozoa preventively without having to resort to heterologous
- if a couple decides to have a child after the age of 40, their cryopreserved oocytes at a young age drastically increase the chance of pregnancy
- the cryopreserved oocytes that a woman decides not to use anymore, because perhaps she has already had her children, could obviously, with the donor’s consent, be donated to those who cannot have children, overcoming the problem of the shortage of oocytes that are currently purchased by PMA centers at a high price from foreign countries (Spain above all)
It is certainly a topic that must be explored from all points of view.
- Is it better to freeze the eggs to look for work and economic stability or is it better for a woman to have the possibility of having a pregnancy at a young age?
- Is it okay to postpone a pregnancy after 40? Or around 50? Are there no greater risks for the woman and the baby? What social impact will this continual postponement of parenting have?
- Is it right to postpone pregnancy because the employer imposes contracts that oblige the woman to postpone her desire for motherhood?
- Does it make sense that medicine intervenes to remedy problems (ovarian aging related to age) caused by social events (impossibility of having the adequate economic-social conditions to have a family?)
- What to do with all those eggs that will never be used? Can donation really be a solution? Not all women feel comfortable donating their eggs to a couple of strangers. If, on the one hand, a couple is given the opportunity to have a child, on the other, it cannot be hidden that the donor will have one or more children that are biologically specific to the world and that they will probably never know.
We have explored the topic of cryopreservation of oocytes here.
Instead, we would like to know what you think.
We have very gladly accepted to participate in a research entitled “CRIOCONSERVATION OF EGGS: KNOWLEDGE, OPINIONS, ATTITUDES IN ITALY – 2021”.
This is a project that arises from the collaboration of some Italian universities, coordinated by Dr. Emanuela Rinaldi (sociologist, University of Milan-Bicocca) and Pamela Tozzo (doctor, University of Padua, already author of numerous publications on This theme).
The aim of the project, which has a purely scientific purpose, is to mainly investigate both the aspects of knowledge and attitudes on the practice of cryopreservation of women’s oocytes, and the aspects related to economic decisions related to motherhood.
We ask you to answer the questionnaire by dedicating 10-15 minutes of your time and to share the link with one or more friends.
Find the questionnaire and more details here.
For any doubts or questions, you can contact the research coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
An extract of the results will be published online on the Periodofertile.it website when the data is processed, presumably by the end of December 2021.
Thanks for the precious collaboration