Women’s fertility topics are much more talked about these days than ever before, even to the extent that celebrities discuss their family-planning decisions and struggles at the public level. “The Bachelorette” star Kaitlyn Bristowe is the latest famous face to dish openly about the goings-on of her ovaries, revealing this week that she has decided to freeze her eggs — and her reason for doing so is totally empowering.
“I’m freezing my eggs,” she tweeted to a fan earlier this month. “I’m taking control of my future! As a woman, there’s always pressure to have babies, and this puts my mind at ease for when I’M ready.”
The reality star, 31, has the full support of fiance Shawn Booth, who gushed about her decision over the weekend. “Always impressed by her strength and courage, but even more so after these past few weeks!” the Bachelorette winner wrote on Instagram — along with a photo of his wife-to-be laying her head in his lap. “Very proud of her for taking control of our future and continuing to empower others! #ovaeggfreezing (and it doesn’t hurt when you have the best nurse & friend out there @whitb624!!).”
Kaitlyn is storing her eggs at Ova Egg Freezing in Chicago, a boutique fertility clinic with the aim of making “egg freezing more accessible and affordable to all women.” Similar millennial-targeted businesses are popping up all over the country as the once frowned-upon fertility procedure continues to gain popularity with the under-35 crowd.
A recent New York magazine profile on the trend explains that egg freezing wasn’t that popular until recent years because success rates were low. But in 2012 freezing technology improved so much that the American Society for Reproductive Medicine concluded it was no longer “experimental.” While it can be successful, the odds still aren’t great that a single frozen egg will result in a birth. In fact, the chances fall somewhere between 2 and 12 percent. This is why most fertility clinics attempt to collect at least a dozen eggs, resulting in a 24 percent chance of motherhood for the donor. Other medical studies classify the success rate a bit higher — 25 to 50 percent — if the newer methods are used to freeze eggs.
The amount of women opting to go through the process, which at one time was mostly utilized by women suffering from cancer before egg-damaging radiation treatments, has increased dramatically. According to data from Time, only 500 women underwent the procedure in 2009 compared with almost 5,000 in 2013. According to fertility marketer Egg Banxx, 76,000 will be doing it by 2018.
While the cost has decreased, it’s still pretty pricey to harvest those eggs. While traditional fertility clinics charge anywhere from $10,000 to $17,000 for the procedure, according to Live Science, boutique agencies like Extend Fertility offer the service for less than $5,000 (not including hormones, monthly storage fees and the cost of eventual implantation), offering packages with down payments and monthly payment plans — making it similar to leasing a car.
And despite the fact egg freezing sounds like a simple process, it’s actually quite rigorous and often painful. Not only are women required to inject themselves with daily hormones and come in for several vaginal ultrasounds, in order to retrieve the eggs a needle has to be inserted into the vagina.
So is it worth it?
While egg freezing may not be considered “experimental” anymore, it isn’t a surefire way to become a mom — the odds simply aren’t that good. And then there is also the issue of unknown long-term health repercussion risk that comes along with any sparkling new medical advancement. Marcy Darnovsky, the executive director at the Center for Genetics and Society, warned New York magazine readers that there isn’t sufficient data on effects the procedure has on moms or babies. “You’re putting your eggs into basically a type of antifreeze,” she said. “What do we know about the absorption of those chemicals and subsequent development?”
If you do opt to freeze your eggs, keep in mind the procedure doesn’t equate to taking out an insurance policy on motherhood.
What Do YOU Think?
What do you think about this latest fertility trend? Would you freeze your eggs? Do you think egg freezing is going to be more and more popular in the near future?