This weekend kicks off the 68th annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) in San Diego, CA and runs through October 24th. ASRM was founded in 1944 by a small group of fertility experts in Chicago and since then, distinguished members of ASRM have led the development of the field of reproductive medicine. They were the first physicians to perform many of the standard procedures used by fertility specialists today, including donor insemination and in vitro fertilization, and they have helped form key legislation and fought for reproductive rights when public policy in reproductive matters did not exist.
Today, ASRM members reside in all 50 of the United States and in more than 100 other countries. ASRM is multidisciplinary, with members including obstetrician/gynecologists, urologists, reproductive endocrinologists, embryologists, mental health professionals, internists, nurses, practice administrators, laboratory technicians, pediatricians, research scientists, and veterinarians. Needless to say, the Society is an authority on reproductive medicine and has been for over half a century, and at this year’s conference, a very important announcement is going to be made: egg freezing is no longer considered an “experimental” fertility preservation technique.
The practice of freezing eggs has long been controversial with many experts arguing there's too little data on how well it works or how safe it is. Up until now, clinicians mostly recommended it for female cancer patients whose fertility may be at risk as a result of cancer treatment in situations where embryo banking is not an option or as an additional safeguard to embryo banking. The published report upgrading egg freezing from experimental to standard, prepared by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) Practice Committee, reviewed nearly 1,000 published studies about egg freezing and concluded that sufficient studies have been done to warrant considering egg freezing as a clinically available technique due to improved freezing and thawing techniques.
So what does this mean for cancer patients? Removing the “experimental” label may make it easier for cancer patients to receive insurance coverage if they choose egg freezing as their method of fertility preservation. It may also become a more appealing choice if it’s considered a clinically standard technique. Although there are no guarantees in any fertility preservation technique, patients may be less likely to choose experimental procedures over conventional ones.
We will have more information for you next week as this story unfolds and the report is published...