Oocyte cryopreservation beyond cancer: tools for ethical reflection

Alma Linkeviciute, Fedro A. Peccatori, Virginia Sanchini, Giovanni Boniolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: This article offers physicians a tool for structured ethical reflection on challenging situations surrounding oocyte cryopreservation in young healthy women. Methods: A systematic literature review offers a comprehensive overview of the ethical debate surrounding the practice. Ethical Counseling Methodology (ECM) offers a practical approach for addressing ethical uncertainties. ECM consists of seven steps: (i) case presentation; (ii) analysis of possible implications; (iii) presentation of ethical question(s); (iv) explanation of ethical terms; (v) presentation of the ethical arguments in favor of and against the procedure; (vi) examination of the individual patient’s beliefs and wishes; and (vii) conclusive summary. Results: The most problematic aspects in the ethical debate include the distinction between medical and non-medical use of oocyte cryopreservation, safety and efficiency of the procedure, and marketing practices aimed at healthy women. Female empowerment and enhanced reproductive choices (granted oocyte cryopreservation is a safe and efficient technique) are presented as ethical arguments supporting the practice, while ethical reservations towards oocyte cryopreservation are based on concerns about maternal and fetal safety and wider societal implications. Conclusions: Oocyte cryopreservation is gaining popularity among healthy reproductive age women. However, despite promised benefits it also involves risks that are not always properly communicated in commercialized settings. ECM offers clinicians a tool for structured ethical analysis taking into consideration a wide range of implications, various ethical standpoints, and patients’ perceptions and beliefs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1211-1220
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Volume32
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 4 2015

Keywords

  • Egg freezing
  • Ethical counseling
  • Oocyte cryopreservation
  • Reproductive technology ethics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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