A have a look at why many ladies bear egg freezing and the prices concerned

Huntsville Reproductive Medicine PC nurse Lynn Curry lifts frozen embryos from the IVF cryopreservation dewar on March 4, 2024 in Madison, Alabama, USA.

Roselle Chen | Reuters

As litigation over reproductive rights increases in the United States, egg freezing could be affected.

In February, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that all embryos created through in vitro fertilization are considered children. This ruling could have far-reaching implications for the civil and criminal liability of fertility clinics and their patients. According to biotech fertility company TMRW Life Sciences, over 1 million frozen eggs and embryos are stored in the United States alone.

Women who choose reproductive procedures such as egg freezing face a long road full of obstacles. Here's a look at the driving forces behind egg freezing and the financial, social and emotional costs associated with it – based on personal experiences from women across the country.

The “Mating Gap”: What Causes Egg Freezing?

It is believed that most women who delay motherhood do so to focus on other aspects of their lives, such as their careers. That's not so much the case anymore, according to Marcia Inhorn, a professor at Yale University who specializes in medical anthropology.

“The majority of women who freeze their eggs do so because they have not found a partner. “I call it the mating gap – the lack of suitable, educated and equal partners,” says Inhorn, who last year authored the book “Motherhood on Ice: The Mating Gap and Why Women Freeze Their Eggs,” told CNBC.

This problem arises from the fact that women are now more likely to receive higher education than men. Inhorn found that women outperform men in higher education in 60% of countries and that in the United States alone, women outnumber men in higher education by 27%.

“The result is that there are literally millions of college-educated men in America short of highly educated women of childbearing age—between the ages of 20 and 39,” Inhorn added.

Another reason women freeze their eggs is the sense of empowerment the procedure gives them. In principle, Inhorn is convinced that the freedom offered by egg freezing is ultimately the reason why younger and younger women are interested in the procedure.

“It gives you a little breathing space, a little more time,” she said.

This statement comes from reproductive endocrinologists and fertility specialists Dr. Nicole Noyes and Aimee Eyvazzadeh agree.

Noyes, who has been in the fertility industry since 2004 and is based in New York, has seen a significant change in the age and attitudes of her patients over the past two decades. Initially, their patients tended to be older, in their early 40s, and they viewed egg freezing as a last-ditch attempt to secure the end of their reproductive lives. Now women as young as their late 20s come to see Noyes.

Eyvazzadeh, who has also worked in the field for 20 years and lives in California, has noticed a trend toward younger patients choosing to freeze their eggs while they are most viable.

This is the case with social media influencer Serena Kerrigan, who just turned 30. Even though she was in a relationship, egg freezing was a procedure she willingly undertook while she focused on growing her business, she told CNBC.

Kerrigan, who has more than 800,000 followers on Instagram and TikTok and lives in New York, began sharing her egg freezing journey last year. She wanted to remove some of the stigma surrounding egg freezing and give her followers a glimpse into the arduous process.

Kerrigan has paid for all of her procedures herself, she told CNBC, and recently teamed up with her clinic, Spring Fertility, to donate a round of egg freezing to one of her followers. She hopes egg freezing will ultimately become less stigmatized.

“There's a level of shame or taboo that I don't actually understand. To me, that’s science, and that’s incredible, and that’s a huge step forward,” she said. “This is a way to give women back the power and take control of their lives.”

The benefits are high, but so are the costs

While the benefits of egg freezing are certainly enormous, the associated costs are also enormous.

The average price for a single egg freezing cycle is $11,000 in the United States. Many women require multiple egg freezing cycles, especially as they age and egg number and quality begin to deteriorate. Not to mention additional costs like hormone medications and annual storage fees, which can total around $5,000 and $2,000, respectively.

Nutrition and health coach Jenny Hayes Edwards had her eggs frozen in 2010 at the age of 34, becoming one of the first women in the United States to undergo the procedure. Although it's still considered an “experimental” procedure in the US, Hayes Edwards was sure she wanted to try it. She wasn't dating anyone at the time and was working “like crazy” while running her restaurant business in Colorado.

But the high cost was their biggest obstacle. Their restaurants suffered a setback after the 2008 financial crisis, when many consumers skipped expensive ski vacations in Colorado.

Hayes Edwards remembers it being a difficult decision. But her mother ultimately helped her decide to have the procedure.

“It's all about money, and the opportunity you could miss is much bigger,” Hayes Edwards recalled her mother saying. “I was so grateful that she pushed me over the edge.”

She was able to scrape together the $15,000 she needed by using her credit card, selling jewelry and breaking down a bond in her inheritance.

Hayes Edwards now has a healthy three-year-old daughter, conceived nearly a decade after freezing her eggs, and is still grateful for the extra time egg freezing gave her to get to know her now-husband.

Employer benefits

In recent years, egg freezing, fertility and family planning services have increasingly emerged as employer benefits, particularly at technology companies. A 2021 study by Mercer showed that 42% of large companies – those with at least 20,000 employees – covered in vitro fertilization services in 2020, up from 36% in 2015. Nineteen percent of these companies had egg freezing benefits , more than three times the six percent offering these benefits in 2015.

Michelle Parsons decided to freeze her eggs because the procedure was offered through her job. The various technology companies Parsons has worked for have offered fertility services ranging from $10,000 to $75,000.

Parsons, a lesbian, always knew she wanted to freeze her eggs — and underwent the procedure while working at Match Group as chief product officer of the dating app Hinge. At the time, neither she nor her ex-partner were ready to have children, but it was a financial incentive that Parsons didn't want to miss.

In addition to eggs, Parsons also chose to freeze her successfully fertilized embryos as further backup. Frozen embryos have a much higher chance of thawing viable. In fact, Parsons' search for a sperm donor triggered one of the most used features on the Hinge app – voice prompts.

“When we started listening to all these voice recordings of potential sperm donors, the light went on in my head and I thought, Wow, this is what's missing from dating right now,” Parsons told CNBC. “Because voice gives you so much nuance in terms of personality, humor and mood… we ended up building this feature called Voice Prompts on Hinge and it was a huge, wild success that led to rapid growth for Hinge and went viral on TikTok .”

Still, Parsons noted that egg freezing affected her professional and personal life in other ways.

“You have to inject yourself with hormones for two weeks. You have to eat differently. You don't really want to be in social situations. You're not allowed to drink. There are all these other consequences of going through this process even though we know it will only last this one month and then it will be over,” she said.

The process also does not guarantee success.

Evelyn Gosnell underwent her first egg retrieval at the age of 32, followed by two further cycles at the ages of 36 and 38. When she was ready to have children with her current partner, the New York-based behavioral scientist had plenty of frozen eggs at the ready. However, she did not receive viable and normal embryos after her eggs were thawed and fertilized.

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