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Saturday, May 04, 2013

Lean in, freeze eggs

Better this than Idiocracy. You could also argue that men should freeze sperm as the incidence of de novo mutations in children increases with paternal age.

WSJ: ... Egg freezing stopped the sadness that I was feeling at losing my chance to have the child I had dreamed about my entire life. It soothed my pangs of regret for frittering away my 20s with a man I didn't want to have children with, and for wasting more years in my 30s with a man who wasn't sure he even wanted children. It took away the punishing pressure to seek a new mate and helped me find love again at age 42.

I decided to freeze on the afternoon of my 36th birthday, when I did a fresh round of baby math on the back of a business card at Starbucks. Even if the man I was dating at the time agreed to start a family in the near future, I was cutting it close to have one baby, let alone a second. Several months later, after injecting myself for nearly two weeks with hormone shots, I was in surgery at a Manhattan fertility clinic as my doctor pierced my ovaries, suctioned out nine eggs and handed them to the embryologist to freeze until I was ready to use them. As soon as I woke up in the recovery room, I no longer felt as though I were watching my window to have a baby close by the month. My future seemed full of possibility again.

Amid all the talk about women "leaning in" and "having it all," the conversation has left out perhaps the most powerful gender equalizer of all—the ability to control when we have children. The idea is tantalizing: Once you land the job and man you want, you can have your frozen eggs shipped to your fertility clinic, hand him a semen collection cup and be on your way to parenthood. You mitigate the risk of birth defects by using younger eggs, and you can carry a baby well into middle age. At a time when one in five American women between the ages of 40 and 44 is childless—and half say they would still like to have children—egg freezing offers a once-unimaginable reprieve.

Up until now, a woman who bumped up against her baby deadline could visit a sperm bank, make peace with being "child-free" or eventually break her heart and bank pursuing futile fertility treatments in an attempt to "snatch a child from the jaws of menopause," as the economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett so famously warned a decade ago while encouraging women to plan their families as carefully as their careers.

I spent the majority of my 30s alternately panicked about my love life or feeling kicked in the gut every time I saw an adorable child. Fertility anxiety isn't exactly helpful when you're trying to snag the locker next to Sheryl Sandberg in the executive gym. And it's a buzz kill on dates when you feel compelled to ask the guy sitting across from you, clutching his craft beer, "So do you think you might want kids someday?"

... Last fall, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine removed the procedure's experimental label, citing improved success rates with a new flash-freezing technology known as vitrification. Several trials showed little difference in in-vitro-fertilization success rates using frozen rather than fresh eggs. That rate is 30% to 50% per try, depending on the age of eggs and expertise of the doctor. Despite early fears of how freezing could damage eggs' chromosomes, a recent review of 900 babies born from frozen eggs found they had no more risk of birth defects than those conceived naturally.

See also The price of eggs.

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