What is the discontinuation rate among patients with remaining cryopreserved embryos in Belgium and what are the reasons for discontinuation?
Multicentre, cross-sectional study across 11 Belgian fertility clinics. Patients were eligible (n = 1917) if they had previously undergone an unsuccessful fresh embryo transfer (fresh group) or frozen embryo transfer (FET) (in-between group) and did not start a subsequent FET cycle within 1 year despite having remaining cryopreserved embryos. The denominator was all patients with embryos cryopreserved during the same period (2012–2017) (n = 21,329). Data were collected through an online anonymous questionnaire.
The discontinuation rate for patients with remaining cryopreserved embryos was 9% (1917/21329). For the final analysis, 304 completed questionnaires were included. The most important reasons for discontinuing FET cycles were psychological (50%) and physical (43%) burden, effect on work (29%), woman's age (25%) and effect on the relationship (25%). In 69% of cases, the patient themselves made the decision to delay FET treatment. In 16% of 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 were psychological support before (41%), during (51%) and after (51%) treatment, as well as lifestyle counselling (44%) and receiving digital information (43%).
The discontinuation rate is remarkably high in patients with remaining cryopreserved embryos who have a good prognosis. Respondents stressed the need to improve the integration of psychological and patient-tailored care into daily assisted reproductive technology 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 after intracytoplasmic sperm injection. She is a staff member at the Department for Reproductive Medicine at Ghent University Hospital, Belgium.
Published online: October 16, 2022
Accepted: October 12, 2022
Received in revised form: September 18, 2022
Received: May 25, 2022Declaration: The authors report no financial or commercial conflicts of interest.
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