Hope and Happy Futurity in the Cryotank: Biomedical Imaginaries of Ovarian Tissue Freezing

Anna Sofie Bach, Charlotte Kroløkke

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


In Denmark, female patients who undergo chemo- and radiation therapy are, prior to treatment, increasingly offered fertility preservation in the form of ovarian tissue freezing. In the cryotank, the frozen ovarian tissue awaits the recovery of the patient, after which it can be thawed and implanted into the remaining ovary or the abdominal wall. Here it potentially restores the ovarian function and enables women to become pregnant and experience genetic motherhood. Promising reproductive futures, the biomedical imaginary of ovarian tissue preservation is entangled with visions of possibilities and risk management as well as gendered understandings of reproduction and the ‘good life.’ From the get-go, ovarian tissue freezing has been informed by an optimistic imaginary of scientific progress. Not only were freezing programs established before clinical evidence testified to the success of the technique in humans; the envisioning of improvements and new applications also anticipates future scientific breakthroughs, such as in vitro maturation of eggs. In the imaginary of hopefulness and reproductive futurity, frozen ovarian tissue becomes an object of vitality which (re)installs the cancer patient as a reproductive citizen. Moreover, ovarian tissue is imagined as a bountiful material with different potentiality than egg freezing. In Denmark, the biomedical imaginary romanticizes the restoration of ‘natural’ fertility and spontaneous pregnancies. Thus, the potentiality of ovarian tissue freezing is imagined within a normative framework privileging ‘natural’ conception, yet simultaneously destabilizing the very notion of the age-span of ‘natural fertility.’
Original languageEnglish
JournalScience as Culture
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)425-449
Publication statusPublished - 2. Jul 2020


  • Sociotechnical imaginary
  • biopreparedness
  • cryopreservation
  • feminist perspectives
  • fertility preservation
  • hope technology


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