In today’s more equal society women still struggle with the idea of “having it all”. This refers to the struggle women have to be wives, mothers and successful career driven women. The solution that has been implemented into main stream media as the quick fix for “having it all”, is egg freezing.
This of course would be an amazing step in the direction of equality for men and women, as men can have children at a more advanced age then women. In fact, while men are constantly making new sperm, women start loosing eggs as soon as they are born. By the time we hit 37 women are loosing two eggs per day. Even companies like Facebook and Apple have begun to cover the costs so that women can establish their careers before entering motherhood.
However, the advantages of egg freezing might have been grossly exaggerated. Recent studies have shown that freezing your eggs might not be the fix all women have been looking for. Egg freezing is so new that there is very little confirmed information on its effectiveness. The only thing that the science seems to show is that your eggs will be most effective the younger you are when they are frozen.
Clinics claim success rates are as low as 10 per cent and as high as 60 per cent. Since the procedure has only recently become popular, it is unknown how effective the frozen eggs are at creating life because so few have been unfrozen yet. Of the eggs that have been used so far only 2-12 per cent have lead to a baby so far. The ratio of eggs to babies is 6.5 per cent and, unfortunately, most of these are from donated eggs to infertile couples. This means that most of the eggs would come from prime donors, AKA younger women.
Unfortunately, freezing your eggs cryogenically has been marketed to the current generation of young women as their future. One round of egg retrieval can cost close to $4,000. The expense and lack of evidence on the effectiveness makes freezing your eggs and expensive risk. Many women are willing to take the risk because of the frightening statistics that say women only have 12 per cent of their eggs left in their 30s and only 2 per cent in their 40s.
Dr. Greta Narguard has tried to curb the downsides of egg freezing, such as the steep costs, with the creation of Europe’s largest fertility clinic – Create Fertility. She uses IVF, less hormones, but over a smaller period of time, to help women be fertile. This, coupled with the non-profit Walking Egg, is the first step to making fertility treatments and IVF more accessible to women in lower socioeconomic backgrounds .
Naguard also advocates for fertility education in schools (paired with sex ed) and thinks that egg freezing should be publicly funded just like contraception and abortion, because is it also a facet of reproduction. As of right now there are no laws or controls put on fertility clinics to regulate overcharging. Having to do multiple rounds of IVF leads to extra charges. One client, Georgina, says that it cost her nearly $12,000 to go through three rounds of IVF and an extra $350 per year for storage alone.
It’s clear that there is more to egg freezing than we are lead to believe. It’s being marketed as the perfect plan B for career women, but the women who have actually gone through harvesting their eggs have a different opinion. Women attest to the painstaking wait times and rounds go hormones. They conclude that fertility treatment is less a science than an art, and one that is not consistent for all doctors.