Egg Freezing No Longer Experimental?



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Oprah once said she wishes she had frozen her oocytes to keep open the possibility of having a child later in life. Now, for $9,000 to $15,000 per attempt, plus $350 to $500 a year to store the eggs, women in their early 30’s can do just that. While scientists developing egg freezing may say they are doing it for cancer patients who may lose their fertility as a result of radiation treatment, they all know the real market for this technology is women in graduate school who want a fertility insurance policy. The market potential motivated Christy Jones, a high-powered Harvard MBA, to start an egg freezing business she calls Extend Fertility Inc. While there are no official figures on how many clinics offer egg-freezing or how many women are using it, a cancer survivor advocacy group, Fertile Hope, recently surveyed 430 clinics and found that 138 were providing the service, up from 58 three years earlier. The clinics reported having done more than 500 egg retrievals for women delaying motherhood. Extend Fertility, which recently expanded to a sixth city, says it has signed up more than 200 women in the past three years.

So why is this an issue? The problem is that this is one more example of a fertility technology being marketed to the public before it’s go through clinical trials to assess whether it actually works. Success rates thus far have been pretty poor, but this hasn’t stopped many of these clinics from claiming much higher success rates on their websites. Even the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the fertility medicine’s professional society, says that there isn’t yet enough evidence to “validate the assumption that if you freeze your eggs now, your chances of a successful pregnancy will be better than your chances using your own fresh eggs at that point.” ASRM currently recommends limiting egg-freezing to cancer patients and research studies.

Additionally, even if egg freezing does work, it’s only going to be financially feasible for the wealthiest in society. It’s a technological fix for social problem. Wouldn’t it be better if we had more reasonable family policies that supported women in their desire to have both a career and a family?
So ladies, think long and hard before you drop 10 grand to put your eggs on ice. It might buy you the time you need to establish your career or find that elusive partner, but it could also be nothing more than a great marketing ploy to get you to gamble with your hard earned cash.

-Andrea Kalfoglou

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