A multicenter study on rates and reasons for discontinuation of treatment in subfertile patients with remaining cryopreserved embryos

Published:October 16, 2022DOI:


      Research question

      What is the discontinuation rate among patients with remaining cryopreserved embryos in Belgium and what are the reasons for discontinuation?


      Multicenter, cross-sectional study performed in 11 Belgian fertility clinics (covering 80% of ART population). Patients were eligible (n=1917) in case they underwent an unsuccessful fresh embryo transfer (fresh group) or FET (in between group) and did not start a subsequent FET cycle within one year despite the presence of remaining cryopreserved embryos. Denominator were all patients with embryos cryopreserved during the same period (2012-2017) (n=21329). Data were collected through an online anonymous questionnaire.


      The discontinuation rate for patients with remaining cryopreserved embryos is 9% (1917/21329). For the final analysis, 304 completed questionnaires were included. The most important checked reasons for discontinuation of FET cycles were psychological (50%) and physical (43%) burden, impact on work (29%), woman's age (25%) and impact on relationship (25%). In 69% of the cases the patient her/himself made the decision to delay FET treatment. In 16% of the respondents, the decision to delay FET was determined by external factors: treating physician (9%), social environment (4%), close family (3%) and society (3%). Suggested improvements by the respondents were psychological support before (41%), during (51%) and after (51%) treatment, as well as lifestyle counseling (44%) and receiving digital information (43%).


      The discontinuation rate is remarkably high in patients with remaining cryopreserved embryos, who are considered to have a good prognosis. Respondents stressed the need to better integrate psychological and patient tailored care in our daily ART practice.

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      Frauke Vanden Meerschaut, MD, PhD, has worked in reproductive medicine since 2009. In 2013, she obtained her doctorate at Ghent University, Belgium, for research on oocyte activation and fertilization failure following ICSI. Nowadays, she is a staff member at the Department for Reproductive Medicine at Ghent University Hospital, Belgium .