Disclosure practices on fertility sites are notoriously substandard (“The fertility industry may offer women false hope”, Opinion6 January). But bad explanations do not make a bad product. Let us not throw out freezing egg with the bath water.
People are now healthcare consumers facing difficult choices. It is difficult to get credible information as advertisers try to influence, not to inform. Yet, when consumers buy for a bandage, a hair dryer or egg freezer, consumers can not just decide based on sweet talk.
Your columnist Elaine Moore uses data from the UK’s human fertilization and embryology authority which shows that in 2016 the birth rate among those who underwent fertility treatment with their own thawed eggs was only 18 per cent. According to reports published later, one in three or four women who froze their eggs at the age of 37-8 will have a birth.
The prevailing option – to postpone a desired birth until your 40s and use the “eggs du jour” – offers a lower chance. According to the large UK database, delivery rates after a range of IVF treatments at the age of 40-42 are 31 per cent per woman. It drops to 20 percent for women at age 43, and 4 percent at 44-5. Furthermore, the chances are slim.
Therefore, although it does not guarantee birth certainty, egg freezing, even at the age of 37-8, offers a better chance than having fertility treatments after the age of 42.
But freezing can occur sooner. A large-scale 2018 study of more than 6,000 women show that for those who froze eggs before they reached 35, success rates were as high as 69 percent. Like any insurance, it pays to start early.
Insurers and employers who really want to support women’s fertility chances should offer this procedure when it is most effective. Behavioral economics is right in its toolkit thrusts – a gentle push in the right direction – right, that is, for both the individual and society.
Attaching colonoscopies for 50-year-old patients certainly provides a powerful boost. For example, by choosing the age of 33 for egg freezing, the heap can be less false.
Professor Talya Miron-Shatz
Ono Academic College, Israel
Visiting Researcher, Winton Center for Risk and Evidence Communication University of Cambridge, UK
Dr Avi Tsafrir
Shaarei Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem Hebrew University, Jerusalem, Israel