Like something out of a Scifi movie with evil corporations - Apple, emulating a policy Facebook has already implemented, has taken an important step in encouraging gender diversity in the work place (or saving a few bucks by pressuring women to sacrifice their reproductive years for the company, depending on who you ask) by extending their employee insurance to cover egg-freezing procedures. Egg freezing is pretty much what it sounds like: Doctors will remove your eggs (oocytes) transvaginally, dehydrate them, cryogenically freeze them, and keep them stored for you. The oocytes can either be frozen using a slow-cooling method or a flash-freezing process called vitrification. Vitrification, the newer of the techniques, results in higher survival rates and better development than slow-cooling. When or if a woman becomes ready to retrieve an egg, sperm can be injected into its cytoplasm with a technique known as ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection). This is the same technique used in in vitro fertilization.
Studies have demonstrated that, while not as successful as implanting fresh eggs (one 2008 study showed that the success rates for embryo growth from frozen and fresh implanted oocytes were 79% and 93%, respectively), the implantation procedure for frozen eggs has led to rates of birth defects and chromosomal abnormalities comparable to those associated with natural births (according to two studies in 2007 and 2009). Since the “experimental” label was lifted from the procedure, doctors have reported a two-fold increase in women seeking out the procedure in New York and San Francisco.
Why would a woman want this procedure done? Well, women really do have a ticking biological clock in a way—a woman is born with all the oocytes she’ll ever have, and she will steadily lose them throughout her life. According to Extend Fertility, the leading company in oocyte freezing, the quality of eggs decreases along with the quantity. This is why women in their thirties and forties may have a harder time becoming and staying pregnant.
According to the CDC, women in the US are waiting longer these days to have kids. This may be due to the increased number of women seeking higher education and pursuing time-consuming careers. Because of this, many women would prefer to start having families after achieving stability in their careers—stability that usually comes from devoting years to educational and work-related goals. Because these are typically the years during which a woman is most fertile, a woman may feel conflicted about whether to invest herself in work or family.
Insemination in a lab, does it matter how they are made? (via Donoreggbankusa)
Egg freezing presents a solution to women who’d like to have a family, but who want (or need) to wait and start one later on. While the procedure does not ensure a successful pregnancy, it does provide women some peace of mind that they’ll have a greater chance of having a baby down the line.
The only thing holding these women back from getting the procedure is the cost—according to NBC News, the treatments run for at least $10,000 per round, and storage of the eggs can cost $500 or more per year. But since high-profile companies like Facebook and Apple have now begun to cover that cost, it’s only a matter of time before other companies follow the leaders by offering their own egg-freezing coverage. The message this sends to female employees is ambiguous—Glenn Cohen, a blogger for Harvard Law School’s Bill of Heath website, writes, “Would potential female associates welcome this option knowing that they can work hard early on and still reproduce, if they so desire, later on? Or would they take this as a signal that the firm thinks that working there as an associate and pregnancy are incompatible?”
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