Is employer coverage of elective egg freezing coercive?: a survey of medical students’ knowledge, intentions, and attitudes towards elective egg freezing and employer coverage
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The purpose of this study was to understand medical students’ knowledge, intentions, and attitudes towards oocyte cryopreservation and employer coverage of such treatment.
This cross-sectional study was performed via an online cross-sectional survey distributed to 280 female medical students from March through August 2016. Demographics, attitudes towards employer coverage, and factors influencing decision-making were assessed via a self-reported multiple-choice questionnaire. The relationship between respondents’ attitudes towards employer coverage and other parameters was analyzed.
A total of 99 responses were obtained out of 280 female medical students. Most respondents (71%) would consider oocyte cryopreservation (potential freezers), although 8% would not consider the procedure and 21% were unsure. Seventy-six percent of respondents felt pressure to delay childbearing. Potential freezers were more likely to be single (p = 0.001), to report feeling pressure to delay childbearing (p = 0.016), and to consider egg freezing if offered by an employer (p < 0.001). Importantly, 71% percent did not view employer coverage as coercive and 77% of respondents would not delay childbearing due to employer coverage. Factors influencing decision-making in potential freezers were absence of a suitable partner (83%), likelihood of success (95%), and health of offspring (94%), among others. Knowledge about the low chance of pregnancy per oocyte (6–10%) would influence decision-making in 42% of potential freezers.
Oocyte freezing is an acceptable strategy for the majority of young women surveyed. Pressure to delay childbearing was related to openness to freeze eggs. The majority of respondents did not find employer coverage for egg freezing coercive although further research is needed with larger, representative samples to ascertain the relationship between pressure to delay childbearing due to work demands and employer coverage for egg freezing.
KeywordsFertility preservation Employer coverage Elective oocyte cryopreservation
Compliance with ethical standards
This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at Northwestern University, and all surveys were completed anonymously.
All authors were involved in study data analysis, and interpretation, drafting, and revising the manuscript critically for important intellectual content, final approval of the manuscript to be published, and agreement to be accountable for all aspects of the work.
Funding P50 HD076188
Conflicts of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.
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