Reasons Why Young Women Accept or Decline Fertility Preservation After Cancer Diagnosis

Patricia E. Hershberger, Heather Sipsma, Lorna Finnegan, Jennifer Hirshfeld-Cytron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: To understand young women's reasons for accepting or declining fertility preservation after cancer diagnosis to aid in the development of theory regarding decision making in this context. Design: Qualitative descriptive. Setting: Participants’ homes or other private location. Participants: Twenty-seven young women (mean age, 29 years) diagnosed with cancer and eligible for fertility preservation. Methods: Recruitment was conducted via the Internet and in fertility centers. Participants completed demographic questionnaires and in-depth semi-structured interviews. Tenets of grounded theory guided an inductive and deductive analysis. Results: Young women's reasons for deciding whether to undergo fertility preservation were linked to four theoretical dimensions: Cognitive Appraisals, Emotional Responses, Moral Judgments, and Decision Partners. Women who declined fertility preservation described more reasons in the Cognitive Appraisals dimension, including financial cost and human risks, than women who accepted. In the Emotional Responses dimension, most women who accepted fertility preservation reported a strong desire for biological motherhood, whereas women who declined tended to report a strong desire for surviving cancer. Three participants who declined reported reasons linked to the Moral Judgments dimension, and most participants were influenced by Decision Partners, including husbands, boyfriends, parents, and clinicians. Conclusion: The primary reason on which many but not all participants based decisions related to fertility preservation was whether the immediate emphasis of care should be placed on surviving cancer or securing options for future biological motherhood. Nurses and other clinicians should base education and counseling on the four theoretical dimensions to effectively support young women with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-134
Number of pages12
JournalJOGNN - Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, and Neonatal Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • decision-making
  • oncofertility
  • preference formation
  • qualitative research
  • survivorship
  • theory development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics
  • Critical Care
  • Maternity and Midwifery


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