An increasing number of young women are having their eggs frozen in order to “extend” their period of fertility and postpone their childbearing years. In many cases, this has nothing to do with work and professional aspirations; it’s more about the challenges of finding a suitable life partner. Regardless of the reason, fertility preservation through egg freezing is becoming exceedingly popular.
Calming the sense of urgency
The promise is an enticing one: getting your eggs frozen ensures that there’s still time — and healthy eggs in stock — to start a family. This time can be extended even into your late 30’s to early 40’s. This can be a wise decision if you think about the divorce rate among younger couples in America. According to Psychology Today, statistical trends suggest that divorce is 50% less likely for someone who is 25 years old when they wed, as compared to someone who gets married at age 20. After all, a woman shouldn’t feel pressured into marrying someone just so she can have children. Finding Mr. (or Ms.) Right takes time.
A recent survey of 31 young women who had undergone fertility preservation procedures showed that they all wanted to have children, but only if they had found a partner willing to make the commitment to being a parent. And while many of the women who participated in the study were single, a significant number were in a relationship when they had their eggs frozen. They simply weren’t sure how it would play out.
Another recent study completed by a team of anthropologists at Yale University came to similar conclusions. Women expressed their fears of not having found a steady partner to share the responsibilities of parenthood with, and therefore chose to “save” their eggs as a precautionary measure in hopes of one day finding that person.
To many, finding a partner and getting pregnant feels like a race against the clock. “Panic partnering” can be a risky move, and egg freezing is perceived as a more sensible, calculated approach. The procedure simply preserves fertility for a few more years, giving women a sense of security as they continue to navigate unchartered romantic territory. It is considered by many to be an “insurance policy” of sorts for their future fertility.
For other women, egg freezing is a decision spurred by very specific health concerns. For instance, women who suffer from endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome may be at risk of decreased fertility especially as they age. Similarly, women who are diagnosed with cancer may need to undergo treatments that can affect their fertility either temporarily or permanently.
Women who have trouble getting pregnant may also choose to have their eggs harvested and frozen for artificial insemination purposes. Specialized clinics can then ensure that the likelihood of conception is higher than it would be without medical intervention.
The bottom line
It has often been suggested that woman have their eggs frozen so that they can spend more time climbing the corporate ladder. While this may be true in some instances, recent studies show that such cases are the exception rather than the norm. Regardless of their motivations, this elective procedure allows women to take their fertility into their own hands. Whether it’s a matter of finding the right life partner, preserving fertility when confronted with illness, or simply keeping their options open while they focus on other personal goals, the benefits of egg freezing resonate with women from an increasingly broad range of backgrounds.