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Egg storage untested as a fertility treatment, experts caution

Rating

4 Star

Egg storage untested as a fertility treatment, experts caution

Our Review Summary

This short piece summarizes a new report from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine which urges caution about the practice of freezing of eggs for use in later attempts at in vitro fertilization.

The article uses a few facts deftly to describe the efficacy of the treatment. It indicates which women are unlikely to be good candidates for the procedure, and which smaller group–for instance women with cancer whose subsequent treatments could leave them infertile–may be better candidates.

The article’s main shortcoming is its failure to quote a fertility expert who endorses this use of the treatment. Even a very short article needs to balance a powerful group’s opinions with those of an informed source who disagrees.  

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The article states clearly that the procedure costs around $10,000. It would have been useful to add whether this includes the cost of multiple cycles of ovarian stimulation, which are often required.  

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The article states that freezing an egg results in a pregnancy only 2 to 4 percent of the time, compared to 25 to 43 percent for typical in vitro fertilization.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The article makes clear the procedure is invasive. It would have been useful to specify whether the invasive technique of extracting the eggs can lead to future difficulties with natural pregnancy, serious disability or death. It would have been useful to add that ovulation induction itself carries some risk and may need to be done multiple times.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Satisfactory

Since the report is a summary of an expert panel’s statement, it does not face the same obligations to describe medical evidence as a story based on a study. Nonetheless, the article usefully includes data drawn from the expert statement about the chances of getting pregnant with the egg-freezing method compared to typical fertility treatments.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The article does not exaggerate the emotional consequences of infertility or childlessness.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The article draws data from the report–on the likelihood of pregnancy from freezing eggs compared to fresh eggs and the number of births that have resulted from the procedure. But it would have been useful to add the phrase "according to the report," to improve transparency.

Quoting the head of the team that issued the report is necessary but not sufficient. Even in such a short piece, a brief statement from a practioner of the technique is required for balance.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The article makes clear that typical IVF using freshly harvested eggs is the main option for women seeking to get pregnant with medical assistance.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The article does not state whether egg freezing is available from all, most or just a few fertility treatment centers. It states only that "many fertility clinics" make claims about the effectiveness of egg freezing.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

The article makes no claims that egg freezing is novel–the implication is that "rainy day" use of the technique is still fairly rare, but growing and increasingly promoted. 

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

It seems that the story may have been triggered by the press release from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. But it does not quote the release, and it adds additional reporting.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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