A couple of days ago I took part to a convention about artificial insemination organized by Il Mondo Yoga Studio and the Parma Azienda Ospedialiera Universitaria. Dr. Lorenzo Barusi mentioned Social Freezing, something that struck my attention and made me inquire the issue.
Apple and Facebook have an odd perquisite for their employees - they will pay for their employees as much as $20,000 to place oocytes in frozen storage, also known as cryopreservation and egg freezing. The combination of the two concepts has coined the expression of “social freezing”.I’m asking myself and you: why should women accept this offer?
Why should they give up natural conception in their young age to choose for egg freezing?
I think that, first of all, women should realize that behind this offer there is an economical need for more productivity, because by eliminating a biological clock for women, companies can reduce turnover and keep employees working longer hours, which will close that pay gap between men and women.
Then, they should realize that behind this offer there is a social problem. Still, women have to choose between career and family, while men have not.
Freezing eggs entrenches the false belief that women cannot be good mothers and good employees at the same time. Freezing eggs could slow down the raising power of women in working places, as recent researches state that the daughters of working women are more prone to make a career then daughters of housewives - or women close to retirement, as it would happen in this case.
But the main question is: why are we offering a medical solution to a social problem?
And again: how much does women know about these new techniques?
Do they know enough to weigh the realistic chances of success and the potential risks for both mother and child?
In a newly published review in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International, Michael von Wolff et al. outlines what needs to be considered before oocytes are placed in storage.
“The principal advantage of social freezing is the ability to delay having children. Disadvantages are the high costs, the high rate of multiple pregnancies following artificial insemination and the elevated risk of complications that brings. The likelihood that in vitro fertilization will result in birth is estimated at up to 40 % for women under 35, but only 15 % above the age of 40. Furthermore, women over 40 are more likely to suffer from diseases of pregnancy such as pre-eclampsia or gestational diabetes.”
Finally, I think that women should see in this apparently noble offer the statement of appreciation of their value and skills and should take from this the courage to stick to their own deep desires, even when they are in conflict with the system.
Because by now the system can hardly do without them.
Citation: von Wolff M, Germeyer A, Nawroth F: Fertility preservation for non-medical reasons—controversial, but increasingly common. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 27–32.