Why Women Are Freezing Their Eggs Now, More Than Ever?
Thanks to a new study, the stereotype surrounding the type of women who delay their reproductive goals is changing. The study, conducted by Yale anthropologist Marcia Inhorn, examined a sample of 150 women split between seven in-vitro fertilization (IVF) clinics in Israel (36 women) and the United States (114 women).
Each woman interviewed had completed one cycle of oocyte cryopreservation, also known as vitrification. Vitrification is a scientific process that freezes ovarian egg cells in seconds.
Costs of Vitrification:
The revolution of vitrification allows large-scale embryo banking because the cells are not damaged by ice crystallization like former processes. The quality of these frozen cells is no different than fresh egg cells, according to scientists.
The procedure generally isn’t covered by insurance and at $7,000 to $21,000 per procedure (with an additional annual storage fee of up to $1,000), which for most women it’s a lot of money to pay out-of-pocket.
Vitrification has, therefore, earned a villainous reputation for being something that only power-hungry women climbing the corporate ladder would choose to invest in.
Apple and Google had famously offered vitrification to employees as a benefit to help these extremely educated women focus on their careers by delaying childbirth. The frozen egg cells allow women to choose between using a surrogate mother to host the child in an IVF process with their new partner or to become single mothers at their preferred age.
The Age And Reasoning
The reason why it is seen as necessary is due to the reality that women have difficulty bearing children after the age of 40. The age range of the women freezing their egg cells in this study was 29 to 42.
Despite the belief that these women wanted to delay pregnancy to focus on their careers, the reality is that the majority had experienced no luck finding a suitable partner (85%).
They were either single, divorced, living overseas, or preferred to be single by choice. All of the women had failed to find educated male partners who fit their criteria and were willing to commit to a long-term reproductive relationship.
One explanation of the problem is that highly educated men are more willing to accept less educated women while women are more particular. Only two of the women admitted that they were delaying birth for career reasons, while the others expressed that they were comfortable with their careers and were not seeking further advancement.
It is estimated that 76,000 vitrification procedures will be performed in the US in 2018. This is a huge increase from the 5,000 procedures performed in 2013.
The ease of the procedure is fuelling the boom as women hold out past their biological prime for a variety of reasons including advancing their career, holding out for the right partner or simply for the right time in their personal life to go at motherhood alone.
During the procedure, the women are mildly sedated while their egg cells are retrieved by the doctor through their vagina’s with no incision. It takes as little as 15 to 20 minutes to perform one egg reclamation. The patients can return home an hour or so later on the same day, once the sedation wears off.
IVF is different from artificial insemination because the egg cell and sperm are joined into embryos outside the body. IVF is often used when there is a fertility problem in one of the partners or there is difficulty carrying a child in the egg cell patient. For some people, it’s to obtain choice genetics or prevent the passing of defective genes.
Women who are over 40-years-old have marginal chances of success with IVF births and a 50% risk of losing the child – even if they become clinically pregnant. In these cases, it is best for a surrogate mother to carry the live birth baby for them.
The techniques used in IVF now take several embryos and grow them in laboratory conditions outside the body. The philosophy is that only the strongest genetics will survive if they force them to develop into a multiple cell blastocyst phase.
The dark side of IVF is that the clinics usually don’t have to disclose their success rates. Therefore, even if the embryologist does something wrong in the lab that results in a failed effort, the couples still have to foot the bill.
One couple (the Leurys) famously spent over $100,000 in a clinic that wasn’t very good at the procedure before trying another, more reputable clinic and obtaining immediate results.
It’s believed that the levels of oxygen and temperatures that the embryos are incubated in are a determining factor. As a result, it is important to do the proper research into quality clinics before committing to any financial obligations.