Frozen in time

YL.freeze eggs.jpg

Frozen in time

Just over 10 years ago, egg-freezing went mainstream. Once the prerogative of only the seriously ill who might not otherwise be able to bear children someday, it lost its “experimental” treatment label (per the American Society for Reproductive Medicine) and became society’s one-size-fits-all solution for both women who wanted to delay having children until they had advanced in their careers and those who waited years later than their mothers to get married.

The procedure exploded in the early 2010s, promising to put women on equal footing with men. From 2012 to 2020, the demand jumped by over 400%, from some 2,500 women freezing their eggs a decade ago to more than 13,000 doing so now.

Of course, with costs in the tens of thousands of dollars, this was never a panacea for anyone with a lower income. But even women who have frozen their eggs are left wondering if it was worth it after all.

Sadly, freezing your eggs is no guarantee of future children: Up to 94% of women never go back to use their eggs, according to a small 2017 study. (Notably, the study determined that “the main reason for not using stored oocytes was not wanting to be a single parent.”) And even for those who do use their eggs, only 39% of them have success.

The New York Times tells the story of Claire Evans, a woman who successfully froze her eggs and used them to have a baby two years after her marriage. Not everyone, however, is so lucky. “But the frozen eggs did not work for Ms. Evans’s friend who encouraged her to undergo the procedure,” the article reports. “In 2020, she had the 10 or so eggs she’d frozen thawed and fertilized. None developed into viable embryos.”

And some women, after forking over thousands of dollars and countless hours for treatment, end up having babies the old-fashioned way. A different New York Times article quotes Maura Downs, who spent $20,000 on freezing her eggs. “I thought it was going to give me this amazing insurance policy,” she said. After two rounds of egg freezing left her with no viable eggs, she became pregnant naturally despite having suffered an ectopic pregnancy that left her with one ovary. Knowing what she now knows about her egg-freezing experience, she said, “I regret it.”

Companies such as Amazon, Google, and Meta offer fertility benefits to their workers, meaning that they now appear to be supportive of women’s rights while keeping their female employees in the workforce. And some lucky women might just get to have it all, while the rest of them find that despite advances in technology, there’s no way to guarantee when, or if, they’ll be able to start a family.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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