The announcement by Apple and Facebook that they would pay for their employees to place oocytes in frozen storage–so-called social freezing–sparked a heated debate about the creation of such a fertility resource for non-medical reasons. Although discussion of the moral and social aspects predominates, the medical consequences cannot be ignored. In a newly published review in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 27-32), Michael von Wolff et al. outline what needs to be considered before oocytes are placed in storage.
The principal advantage of social freezing is the ability to delay having children. A disadvantage, apart from the costs, is the high rate of multiple pregnancies following artificial insemination, resulting in elevated risk of complications. The likelihood that in vitro fertilization will result in birth is estimated at up to 40 % for women under 35, but only 15 % above the age of 40. Furthermore, women over 40 are more likely to suffer from diseases of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes. The authors therefore recommend that women considering social freezing should weigh the realistic chances of success against the question of compatibility of work and family life and the potential risks for both mother and child.