Ensuring prospective patients have access to the information they need to make informed decisions

The use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) is now commonplace in Australia, helping couples and singles achieve their goal of starting a family. Women can now also use these services to safeguard against future infertility by freezing their eggs and thus potentially avoiding a major cause of infertility – age.  

Many fertility clinics that offer egg freezing have been established across the country, yet choosing the right clinic can be difficult for women, and often the first place they acquire information is online. Providing high quality information online is important as it informs a patient’s choice of clinic before further interaction with a fertility specialist. The fertility industry is now highly competitive, with clinics using online media to attract prospective customers. However the quality of the information available online does not always allow prospective patients to make an informed choice regarding their treatment options.

Researchers at Monash University have published a study evaluating the quality of information that prospective users can access online. This work, featured in The Sydney Morning Herald, found that the majority of clinics scored either a ‘poor’ or ‘moderate’ score when evaluated using a tool that was initially developed to audit the US market. Areas that most commonly lacked transparency included success rates, how age and egg freezing impacted these success rates, and the cost of treatment.

The authors call attention to the need for patients to be better informed before they embark on egg freezing for fertility preservation. In particular, the authors highlight that it is essential that women considering whether to undergo egg freezing have access to the information they need to make an informed choice – and that they clearly understand the high costs, potential health risks and success rates, particularly in relation to age.

The authors hope the study will lead to improvements in the way egg freezing is presented to prospective customers, and will provide clinics with a guide as to what information is important for patients to make informed decisions.  

Written by Drs Kiri Beilby and Liza O’Donnell