Understanding social oocyte freezing in Italy: a scoping survey on university female students’ awareness and attitudes

Life Sciences, Society and Policy 15 (1):1-14 (2019)
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In Western countries, a social trend toward delaying childbearing has been observed in women of reproductive age for the last two decades. This delay is due to different factors related to lifestyle, such as the development of a professional career or the absence of the right partner. As a consequence, women who defer childbearing may find themselves affected by age-related infertility when they decide to conceive. Fertility preservation techniques are, therefore, proposed as a solution for these women. Among all possible solutions, social freezing is an alternative strongly discussed from a scientific, social and ethical point of view.A survey among 930 female students at the University of Padova (Italy) investigated their knowledge and attitudes on social egg freezing and their potential intentions regarding this procedure. To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the level of awareness of age-related infertility in Italian young women and their attitudes regarding acceptable indications for elective oocyte freezing, their potential personal use, the circumstances in which they would then decide to use cryopreserved eggs, and their attitudes towards cost coverage and oocyte donation.Data collected in this study revealed some important points about young women and their knowledge about social oocyte freezing in Italy as compared to other European countries and the United States.Overall, 34.3% of the students reported having heard about the possibility of oocyte cryopreservation for non-medical reasons and being aware of the meaning of this procedure; only 19.5% were in favour of social egg freezing and 48.4% thought that the cost for this procedure should be borne entirely by the woman herself. Regarding egg donation, the majority of students (64.9%) would not accept donating their eggs to a known woman or couple and 42.5% would instead accept donating to a biobank.Our study shows that young Italian women are significantly less aware of age-related decline in fertility and the possibility of using social egg freezing compared to their similarly situated counterparts in other Western countries.



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