Facebook And Apple Are Paying For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs

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Many women with challenging careers hope to put marriage and kids on hold. Now freezing their eggs is an option to ensure aging eggs won't prevent them from pursuing their dreams. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

As tech companies try to outdo one another in employee benefits in “perks battles,” they seem to be going all out — especially since many are now considering covering the costs of egg freezing for their female workers. Recently, Facebook and Apple both announced that they will pay for their female employees to get their eggs frozen and stored for later use.

Facebook has just begun covering egg freezing recently; Apple will begin in January. “Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do,” Brigitte Adams, egg-freezing advocate and founder of Eggsurance.com, told NBC News. Providing women with the chance to save their eggs before it’s too late could give them more time to focus on their careers and lives first. Whether or not it’s worth it, however, is up to the individual woman.

What Is Egg Freezing?

Egg freezing, also known as oocyte cryopreservation, involves the extraction and freezing of a woman’s eggs in order to preserve them for later fertilization. Though the process has just recently become more accepted in today’s society, egg freezing has been around for a while; the first successful birth from a frozen and stored egg occurred in 1986. It’s aimed at women who want to spend more time focusing on their single lives or careers, while keeping a storage of their more youthful eggs for later use.

Egg freezing isn’t guaranteed to work, and it’s not always ideal. Most women probably want to get pregnant the natural, old-fashioned way. But the procedure is similar to insurance; you hope you don’t have to use it, but it’s always good to have a back-up just in case.

And as you get older, the more important that back-up may be. A woman’s chance of pregnancy decreases the older she gets once she’s well into her late 30s or early 40s. “You may exercise every day, drink green tea religiously, eat only organic foods and look ten years younger than you are — but no matter how well you take care of yourself you cannot pause your biological clock,” Eggsurance writes on its website. “Your eggs age and there is nothing you can do to stop the aging process.”

Many older women may use an egg donated from a younger woman in order to conceive a child — but for women who want a child that shares their DNA, egg freezing might be a better option. “When you are 21, 90 percent of your eggs are normal,” Dr. Alan Copperman, director of the division of reproductive endocrinology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, told New York Magazine. “When you are 41, 90 percent of your eggs are abnormal.”

Companies like Facebook and Apple will be pouring thousands of dollars into such procedures if women choose to take advantage of the benefit; egg freezing costs add up to $10,000 for every round, plus another $500 for storage every year. But apparently tech companies think it’s worth it. Having committed female employees, who aren’t skittish about finding husbands and having babies, could be a solid investment. These women won’t be as likely to put their careers on hold in their mid-30s to get pregnant — unless they’re the tough kind who can still pull off a full-time job while raising a kid. Some argue that it levels out the “playing field” between men and women: the female biological clock will no longer be an obstacle for women looking to advance their career.

However, companies that provide this option might also come off as discouraging for women who wish to balance both a family and a career. “Would potential female associates welcome this option knowing that they can work hard early on and still reproduce, if they so desire, later on?” Glenn Cohen, co-director of Harvard Law School’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, wrote. “Or would they take this as a signal that the firm thinks that working there as an associate and pregnancy are incompatible?”

According to the NYU Fertility Center, there is a pretty decent success rate for women who become pregnant from frozen eggs. The NYU Center itself has seen 26 women deliver 33 children — including seven sets of twins — from eggs frozen up to the age of 42. While many women might prefer traditional pregnancy, they can likely rest easy knowing there are options out there for back-up.

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