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RESOURCES: SOCIETY & PERSPECTIVE
Why I’m Freezing My Eggs Spoiler: It’s not because I want children, necessarily
The Bold Italic
Considering that I’ve dated more 30-something-year-old men who act like teenage boys on a Rumspringa and have the same level of emotional intelligence, and that we live in a tech-heavy, engineer-dense city, I wanted to tell him that, yes, as a mostly straight woman, you could say it is a little hard to date in San Francisco.
The U.S. birth rate is the lowest it’s been in 30 years. Millennials are waiting later than their Boomer and Gen X counterparts to have families for reasons running the gamut from financial to emotional. Instead of letting their fertility window determine timing for parenthood, some women are taking control by freezing their eggs.
Women in their 40s freeze their eggs for a reason (and it’s not stupidity)
The first official report on egg freezing in the UK shows that there has been a staggering increase – 460% – in women freezing their eggs since 2010. It also highlights that despite this big increase, egg-freezing cycles still remain a tiny 1.5% of fertility treatments carried out in the UK. Over the past two years, as part of my research into single women’s fertility options, I have met hundreds of women who are considering freezing their eggs, and spoken to them in detail about their thoughts, feelings and decision-making processes. Some of these women are indeed in their early thirties and are thinking proactively about their future and fertility. Not yet ready for motherhood, but keenly aware of their declining fertility, and often having witnessed friends who have struggled with trying to conceive, they choose to freeze their eggs now to give themselves the best possible chance of conception when the time is right to have a baby. They may well conceive naturally in the future and never need to use their frozen eggs, but nevertheless see the hefty price tag as an investment that will alleviate their concerns about childlessness. These women will be reassured by the HFEA’s advice to freeze eggs early. But they are the lucky ones, and they are in the minority. A far larger percentage of women coming to clinics are in their late thirties and early forties, the age at which the HFEA “caution against [egg freezing] being a sensible option”. Many of these women would happily have children tomorrow, if only they were in the right relationship, and cite the lack of eligible men as the primary reason why they want to freeze their eggs. For them, egg freezing is not a strategy to postpone motherhood, but rather the only option to preserve their remaining fertility. Generally well-educated, professional and highly intelligent, these women are aware that egg freezing offers them no guarantees of future motherhood, and while they may wishfully hope to beat the odds in the future, their egg-freezing decisions are not driven by irrationality or lack of information, but rather by a lack of alternative options. In addition to these complicated social realities, the 10-year limit for storing frozen eggs, as the report acknowledges, is another factor women must consider. The current law means that younger women who freeze their eggs will not necessarily extend their options beyond their natural fertility span, and may have to discard their eggs before they are ready to use them. This clearly poses a paradox between the clinically and socially optimum time to freeze eggs, and experts are currently campaigning to extend the storage limit. Indeed, in a House of Lords debate on Thursday, Baroness Deech noted that the 10-year rule for eggs is discriminatory since sperm can be frozen for up to 55 years, and added that it would be a pity to tell women approaching the end of their storage limit: “Do not wait for Mr Right; Mr Average will have to do.” She is right to argue that 10 years is an arbitrary limit that may not give women sufficient time, especially if they have frozen their eggs early. But I also worry that an extension could open the floodgates to ever-younger women being targeted by egg-freezing companies, as is the case in the United States. While egg freezing is often discussed in terms of fertility empowerment, it is important to note who stands to profit from women’s growing reproductive anxieties.
Lots of Successful Women Are Freezing Their Eggs. But It May Not Be About Their Careers.
New York Times
“Freeze Your Eggs, Free Your Career,” announced the headline of a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story in 2014. It was the year that Facebook and then Apple began offering egg freezing as a benefit to employees. Hundreds of think pieces followed, debating the costs and benefits of “postponing procreation” in the name of professional advancement. In the years since, many more women across the world have frozen their eggs. Many are highly educated. But the decision may have very little to do with work, at least according to a new study. In interviews with 150 American and Israeli women who had undergone one cycle, career planning came up as the primary factor exactly two times. Instead, most women focused on another reason: they still hadn’t found a man to build a family with. “The stereotype that these ambitious career women are freezing their eggs for the purposes of their career — that’s really inaccurate at the present time,” said Marcia Inhorn, a medical anthropologist from Yale University, and one of the authors of the study, which was presented Monday at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s conference in Spain.
I’m 34, Married, and Healthy. Here’s Why I’m Freezing My Eggs.
There are thousands of dollars of drugs sitting on my coffee table. Nine-hundred units of Follistim, 450 IU of Menopur, Azithromycin tablets, one prefilled Ovidrel syringe, an EpiPen-like autoinjector, a ziplock bag of syringes, alcohol swabs, a hazardous materials container. The first three nights of medications I’ll need to inject myself with in order to freeze my eggs. But now the question that I found so ignorant coming from other people is creeping into my own head: Why are you doing this? I had always assumed only two types of women freeze their eggs: single women who were either doing it as a plan B in case they found Mr. Right "too late" to conceive naturally or who planned to be single mothers; and women with a health condition that threatened the function of their reproductive organs. But I’m a healthy, married 34-year-old woman. I am living my plan A.
The 10-Year Baby Window That Is the Key to the Women’s Pay Gap
New York Times
Women who have their first child before 25 or after 35 eventually close the salary divide with their husbands. It’s the years in between that are most problematic, research shows. Today, married couples in the United States are likely to have similar educational and career backgrounds. So while the typical husband still earns more than his wife, spouses have increasingly similar incomes. But that changes once their first child arrives. Immediately after the first birth, the pay gap between spouses doubles, according to a recent study — entirely driven by a drop in the mother’s pay. Men’s wages keep rising. The same pattern shows up in a variety of research. But the recent study reveals a twist. When women have their first child between age 25 and 35, their pay never recovers, relative to that of their husbands. Yet women who have their first baby either before 25 or after 35 — before their careers get started or once they’re established — eventually close the pay gap with their husbands. The years between 25 to 35 happen to be both the prime career-building years and the years when most women have children.
Inability to find males who will commit to a relationship is the most common reason for procedure, rather than career, finds study
Men are to blame for women freezing their eggs: Inability to find males who will commit to a relationship is the most common reason for procedure, rather than career, finds study Focusing on work is the least common reason women undergo the procedure Most women who freeze their eggs are single, divorced or separated Others have partners who work abroad or are choosing to be single mothers Around 76,000 egg-freezing procedures are due to take place in the US this year Since 2010, at least 471 babies have been born from frozen eggs in the UK