Postponing Pregnancy, Extending Fertility

Current Research Project

Sara is currently in charge of the Subproject 2: "Postponing Pregnancy, Extending Fertility" within the CRYOSOCITIES project.

Cryopreservation plays a fundamental role in assisted reproduction today, as it allows the store and easily transport of sperm, embryos and eggs. This preservation of reproductive capacity through time (and across space) constitutes an essential characteristic of cryobanking and Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs). While sperm has been cryopreserved successfully for a long time, it was only very recently that oocytes became cryopreservable with similar success rates through vitrification, making their freezing a widespread option. Freezing of oocytes was initially offered to women facing cancer treatment or other fertility-impairing conditions. Today it is increasingly being used for so-called non-medical or social reasons: women freezing their eggs to extend their fertility potentiality over time. The novelty of the “social use” of this technology urgently calls for empirical study.

The ethnographic study of egg freezing for the CRYOSOCIETIES project will focus on Spain. This country has emerged as one of the main reproductive hubs in Europe and internationally in the last years. The subproject will study the reasoning behind women’s decisions to store their eggs as well as the role oocyte cryopreservation plays within the clinics studied and the broader reproductive sector. Our aim is to see how practices of egg freezing are linked to certain ways of thinking and enacting time, working and family life cycles: how do considerations behind freezing eggs connect to broader socio-political rationalities? How does egg freezing redifine (in)fertility? How are reproductive decision-making processes altered by this cryotechnology?

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Previous Research Projects

Sara Lafuente Funes aims at linking together different feminist and sociological perspectives, such as STS, Feminist economics and queer theory. She has focused on studying reproduction from different angles: from Biology discourses around asexual and sexual reproduction, to practices within laboratories or dynamics within Assisted Reproduction. Her PhD Thesis focused on the meanings and doings of eggs in Spain, looking at both how eggs and sperm were taught to Biology students and how those were used and handled in Reproductive Clinics. She studied the Spanish Reproductive Bioeconomy focusing on egg transferences from third party providers, or what is normally called egg donation.

After her PhD she worked for the EDNA Project, doing the Spanish fieldwork and work for a comparative analysis of egg provision in the UK, Belgium and Spain.

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Dr. Sara Lafuentes-Funes

Faculty of Social Sciences
Institute of Sociology
Research Group Biotechnologies,
Nature and Society

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