Medical egg freezing: the importance of a patient-centered approach to fertility preservation

Marcia C. Inhorn*, Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Lynn M. Westphal, Joseph Doyle, Norbert Gleicher, Dror Meirow, Hila Raanani, Martha Dirnfeld, Pasquale Patrizio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: This binational qualitative study of medical egg freezing (MEF) examined women’s motivations and experiences, including their perceived needs for patient-centered care in the midst of fertility- and life-threatening diagnoses. Methods: Forty-five women who had undertaken MEF were interviewed in the USA (33 women) and in Israel (12 women) between June 2014 and August 2016. Interviews lasted approximately 1 h and were conducted by two senior medical anthropologists, one in each country. Women were recruited from four American IVF clinics (two academic, two private) and two Israeli clinics (both academic) where MEF is being offered to cancer patients and women with other fertility-threatening medical conditions. Results: Women who undertake MEF view their fertility and future motherhood as important components of their identities and recovery and, thus, are grateful for the opportunity to pursue fertility preservation. However, women who undergo MEF have special needs, given that they tend to be a “vulnerable” population of young (age OpenSPiltSPi 30), unmarried, resource-constrained women, who are facing not only fertility loss but also the “double jeopardy” of cancer. Through in-depth, qualitative interviews, these women’s MEF stories reveal 10 dimensions of care important to fertility preservation, including five “system factors” (information, coordination and integration, accessibility, physical comfort, cost) and five “human factors” (adolescent issues, male partner involvement, family involvement, egg disposition decisions, emotional support). Together, these dimensions of care constitute an important framework that can be best described as “patient-centered MEF.” Conclusions: Women pursuing MEF have special medical needs and concerns, which require particular forms of patient-centered care. This study outlines 10 dimensions of patient-centered fertility preservation that are appropriate for MEF patients. This approach may help IVF clinics to be better prepared for delivering top-quality care to mostly young, single women facing the daunting prospect of fertility loss and life-threatening medical diagnoses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-59
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics
Volume35
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

Funding

FundersFunder number
National Science FoundationBCS-1356136
National Science Foundation

    Keywords

    • Cancer
    • Israel
    • Medical egg freezing (MEF)
    • Patient-centered care
    • United States

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