Social Freezing: Pressing Pause on Fertility

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jul 30;18(15):8088. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18158088.


Increasing numbers of women are undergoing oocyte or tissue cryopreservation for medical or social reasons to increase their chances of having genetic children. Social egg freezing (SEF) allows women to preserve their fertility in anticipation of age-related fertility decline and ineffective fertility treatments at older ages. The purpose of this study was to summarize recent findings focusing on the challenges of elective egg freezing. We performed a systematic literature review on social egg freezing published during the last ten years. From the systematically screened literature, we identified and analyzed five main topics of interest during the last decade: (a) different fertility preservation techniques, (b) safety of freezing, (c) usage rate of frozen oocytes, (d) ethical considerations, and (e) cost-effectiveness of SEF. Fertility can be preserved for non-medical reasons through oocyte, embryos, or ovarian tissue cryopreservation, with oocyte vitrification being a new and optimal approach. Elective oocyte cryopreservation is better accepted, supports social gender equality, and enhances women's reproductive autonomy. Despite controversies, planned oocyte cryopreservation appears as a chosen strategy against age-related infertility and may allow women to feel that they are more socially, psychologically, and financially stable before motherhood.

Keywords: age-related infertility; delayed childbearing; elective egg freezing; fertility preservation; oocyte cryopreservation; oocyte vitrification; social egg freezing.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cryopreservation
  • Female
  • Fertility
  • Fertility Preservation*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Oocytes
  • Reproductive Techniques, Assisted