To continue or discontinue storage of cryopreserved embryos? Patients' decisions in view of their child wish

  • Provoost V
  • Pennings G
  • De Sutter P
 et al. 
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OBJECTIVE Cryopreservation of supernumerary embryos resulting from IVF treatment offers extra chances to conceive. The objective of this study is to describe patients' decisions to continue or discontinue storage of their embryos after a minimum storage period of 2 years. METHODS Female patients who had embryos stored at the Infertility Centre of the Ghent University Hospital (Belgium) were sent a mail questionnaire to be completed anonymously. RESULTS The questionnaire had a response rate of 79% (326/412). After an embryo storage period of at least 2 years, 40% of the couples who were still together wished to continue storage of their embryos. Half of these had no concrete plans for a transfer and wanted to postpone the decision or keep all options open. For those who decided to discontinue storage (60%), the main reason was the completion of their families. Despite the fact that the patients' child wish was the main factor in their storage decision, two groups of patients with distinct profiles made decisions that were inconsistent with their child wish: those who wanted to continue storage while not wanting a(nother) child (7% of those with no child wish), and those who wanted a(nother) child but decided to discontinue storage (25% of those with a child wish). Overall, these patients more often expressed emotional difficulties regarding this decision. CONCLUSIONS This study demonstrates the importance of gaining more insight into patients' embryo storage decisions (along with their embryo disposition decisions) and into the emotional factors playing a role in patients' decision-making.

Author-supplied keywords

  • IVF
  • decision-making
  • embryo disposition
  • ethics

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  • V ProvoostUniversity of Basel Institute for Biomedical Ethics

  • G. Pennings

  • P. De Sutter

  • J. Gerris

  • A. Van De Velde

  • M. Dhont

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