Pre-birth characteristics and 5-year follow-up of women with cryopreserved embryos after successful in vitro fertilisation treatment

Mareike Stiel, Catherine Anne McMahon, Glyn Elwyn, Jacky Boivin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Many patients do not make a decision about the disposition of their surplus embryos until they are compelled to do so by statutory limits. In the current study, the characteristics of women who had conceived through in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and who still had embryos stored (E-S; n = 26) 5 years after IVF were compared to a cohort comparison group (C-C; n = 40). At time 1 (T1, 28 weeks pregnant) women completed questionnaires on personality traits (anxiety, locus of control and dependency) and participated in an interview on socio-demographic characteristics, family composition and stored embryos. At T2 (5 years later) women were re-interviewed and asked about beliefs about the embryos. Women in the E-S group were significantly younger, had been married or living with their partner for fewer years and had had more children than the C-C group. Further, women in the E-S group were more likely to have an external locus of control and a dependent personality than women in the C-C group. Almost all women in the E-S group (88.5%) thought of their embryos as siblings to existing children, and reported thinking about the embryos occasionally (61.5%) or frequently (34.6%). The personality differences identified may suggest that women who still have embryos after the end of fertility treatment may be in need of decision support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Surplus embryos
  • embryo disposition
  • patient characteristics
  • long-term effects of ART
  • decision making

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