Fertility patients' views about frozen embryo disposition: results of a multi-institutional U.S. survey

Anne Drapkin Lyerly, Karen Steinhauser, Corrine Voils, Emily Namey, Carolyn Alexander, Brandon Bankowski, Robert Cook-Deegan, William C. Dodson, Elena Gates, Emily S. Jungheim, Peter G. McGovern, Evan R. Myers, Barbara Osborn, William Schlaff, Jeremy Sugarman, James A. Tulsky, David Walmer, Ruth R. Faden, Edward Wallach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

114 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe fertility patients' preferences for disposition of cryopreserved embryos and determine factors important to these preferences. Design: Cross-sectional survey conducted between June 2006 and July 2007. Setting: Nine geographically diverse U.S. fertility clinics. Patient(s): 1020 fertility patients with cryopreserved embryos. Intervention(s): Self-administered questionnaire. Main Outcome Measure(s): Likelihood of selecting each of five conventional embryo disposition options: store for reproduction, thaw and discard, donate to another couple, freeze indefinitely, and donate for research; likelihood of selecting each of two alternative options identified in previous research: placement of embryos in the woman's body at an infertile time, or a disposal ceremony; importance of each of 26 considerations to disposition decisions; and views on the embryo's moral status. Result(s): We found that 54% of respondents with cryopreserved embryos were very likely to use them for reproduction, 21% were very likely to donate for research, 7% or fewer were very likely to choose any other option. Respondents who ascribed high importance to concerns about the health or well-being of the embryo, fetus, or future child were more likely to thaw and discard embryos or freeze them indefinitely. Conclusion(s): Fertility patients frequently prefer disposition options that are not available to them or find the available options unacceptable. Restructuring and standardizing the informed consent process and ensuring availability of all disposition options may benefit patients, facilitate disposition decisions, and address problems of long-term storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)499-509
Number of pages11
JournalFertility and sterility
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Reproductive Medicine
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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