BACKGROUND: Although cryopreservation of semen is a routine procedure for preserving male gametes, an efficient method of preserving fertility through oocyte freezing has only recently become available for women. In view of the limited female reproductive lifespan, oocyte freezing can now offer women some protection against the decline in fertility with aging.
METHODS: A survey was performed in Belgium among 1914 women of reproductive age (21-40 years) to assess public attitudes towards the phenomenon called 'social oocyte freezing'. Women were questioned on their awareness of the age-related fertility decline and their views and intentions towards considering undergoing oocyte cryopreservation.
RESULTS: The electronic questionnaire was completed by 1049 women, giving a response rate of 55%, and 25 were excluded as they were incomplete/inconsistent. Our results demonstrate that 31.5% of respondents consider themselves as potential social oocyte freezers, of which 3.1% would definitely consider the procedure. Just over half of the women (51.8%) would not consider the procedure while 16.7% indicated they had no opinion. Potential oocyte freezers are characterized by a higher number of desired children and more openness to oocyte donation. The decision to actually embark on such treatment would primarily depend on conditions, such as the procedure not affecting their natural fertility and the health of future children.
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that a significant proportion of young women would consider safeguarding their reproductive potential or are at least open to the idea of social oocyte freezing.