Updated on 17 October 2014
In-vitro fertilization poses significant but under-studied risks, says CGS
Singapore: Center for Genetics and Society (CGS) has criticized the decision by Facebook and Apple to offer their female employees a $20,000 benefit to freeze their eggs for later use with in vitro fertilization, mentioning it an ill-advised decision.
The non-profit organization focused on genetic studies and trends highlighted that in-vitro fertilization poses significant but under-studied risks of egg retrieval for women and potential long-term health risks to children born as a result of the egg-freezing process.
CGS has criticised the decision on important concerns including high failure rates of IVF, the pressure to defer childbearing that the policy represents, and companies' lack of attention to family-friendly workplace policies, including paid leave and schedule flexibility that would enable work-family balance.
"Getting your eggs frozen is neither a simple nor a safe procedure," said Dr Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of CGS. "Retrieving multiple eggs involves injections of powerful hormones, some of them used off-label and never approved for egg extraction. The short-term risks range from mild to very severe, and the long-term risks are uncertain because they haven't been adequately studied - even though the fertility industry has been using these hormones for decades."
The hormonal drugs used to hyper-stimulate ovary production can cause what is known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) in the short term. Mild cases of OHSS are characterized by nausea, bloating, and discomfort. Serious cases are relatively infrequent but can require hospitalization for complications including intra-abdominal bleeding, ovarian torsion, and severe pain. Deaths, fortunately rare, have been reported.