A couple decades ago, it might have sounded a bit like science fiction if someone told you that you could freeze your eggs to delay motherhood until later in life.
Fast forward to 2014, when both Facebook and Apple offer women health benefits packages that include egg freezing, and now, when women attend parties hosted by egg-freezing fertility clinics. It’s clear the option has gone mainstream.
It’s what some experts call “social egg freezing”—women preserving eggs as a safety net when, for personal and professional reasons, they choose not to have a baby during their prime childbearing years.
Kyle Orwig, director of the fertility preservation program at University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, says researchers began exploring egg freezing as an option for women diagnosed with cancer. Cancer treatments can dramatically reduce the likelihood of conceiving a child, so egg freezing can provide a chance to have a child later.
But the process has attracted women who are trying to build their careers, attain financially stability or meet the right partner, and worry they won’t be able to start a family when the time is right.
“It’s women who, for a whole variety of reasons—financial, going to school—decide they don’t want to start a family until later in life,” Orwig says.
He adds that part of the reason more women are opting to freeze their eggs is that more realize the real implications of the proverbial biological clock.
“We’re doing a better job of educating women that their fertility will decline with age,” he says.