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The marketing of elective egg freezing: A content, cost and quality analysis of UK fertility clinic websites

Gürtin, ZB; Tiemann, E; (2021) The marketing of elective egg freezing: A content, cost and quality analysis of UK fertility clinic websites. Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online , 12 pp. 56-68. 10.1016/j.rbms.2020.10.004. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first UK-based study to analyse the marketing of elective egg freezing (EEF) by fertility clinics. Analyses were based on the websites of the top 15 UK clinics, which together provided 87.8% of all egg freezing cycles in the UK between 2008 and 2017 inclusive. The analyses included three phases: content analysis; systematic cost analysis and comparison; and quality analysis examining the information available on egg freezing and its adherence to the guidelines of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA). The results show that clinics frame EEF according to four main themes: as a new and exciting technology; as a solution to (a modern woman’s) life circumstances; as a means to gain control, freedom and more reproductive options; and as a means to avoid the reproductive risks of ageing. This study also found that most clinics are not sufficiently clear and transparent about the ‘true’ cost of an EEF cycle, present an unbalanced view of EEF, and do not provide satisfactory data or information. Most importantly, none of the clinics adhere adequately to the HFEA guidelines regarding advertising and the provision of information. As the EEF market continues to grow, offered exclusively by private clinics, these findings require urgent attention. Clinics must improve the type and quality of EEF information on their websites such that potential patients can make informed choices, and this article provides 10 basic criteria which can be used as a checklist. It is suggested that the time may have come to grant greater economic regulatory powers to HFEA to avoid overcommercialization of the fertility industry.

Type: Article
Title: The marketing of elective egg freezing: A content, cost and quality analysis of UK fertility clinic websites
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.rbms.2020.10.004
Language: English
Additional information: © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Keywords: elective egg freezing, ethics, fertility clinics, informed consent, marketing, oocyte cryopreservation
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL EGA Institute for Womens Health
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10117662
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