Preserving the option to conceive through egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) is surrounded by value conflicts and diverse viewpoints, particularly when non-medical or so-called ‘social’ reasons are involved. The debate is controversial and shaped by normative perceptions of the life course, including concepts regarding reproductive ageing, gender, motherhood and biomedicalization. To unravel the controversy and systematically identify the variety of viewpoints on egg freezing, a Q-methodology study was conducted in The Netherlands between December 2018 and October 2019. Thirty-four women of reproductive age participated in the study. They ranked 40 statements according to their level of agreement, and explained their ranking during follow-up interviews. Data were analysed using by-person factor analysis and interpreted using both quantitative and qualitative data. Four viewpoints, of which the fourth was bipolar, were identified: (1) cautious about egg freezing technology; (2) my body, my choice; (3) egg freezing is unnatural; and (4) have children and have them early. The distinct viewpoints illustrate different prioritizations of values and normative dimensions of biomedical innovations. By knowing more about the prevalent opinions on egg freezing and the surrounding controversy, policy makers and practitioners can make better informed decisions in terms of promoting and providing patient-centred infertility care. The findings furthermore stimulate continuing scholarly work on egg freezing and other innovations in reproductive medicine which may continue to disrupt normative standards.
- Assisted reproductive technology
- Egg freezing
- The Netherlands