Why Women Freeze Eggs

If you did a “man on the street” interview, or more correctly a “woman on the street” interview, and asked “Why do you think a woman freezes her eggs?” the answer I would expect would be to avoid age related problems with her eggs. Maybe many women do fertility preservation for age reasons, but studies are now showing that the majority are freezing their eggs because of lack of a partner.

Women across the world have frozen their eggs. Many are highly educated. But the decision may have very little to do with education or work, at least according to a new study. In interviews with 150 American and Israeli women who had undergone one cycle, career planning came up as the primary factor exactly two times. Instead, most women focused on another reason: they still hadn’t found a man to build a family with.

Though a single woman, headed toward 40, may feel like a freakish anomaly as she freezes her eggs because she hasn’t found a partner, she’s not. This finding echoes other studies in the United States and Britain that have similarly found that it’s the absence of a partner that drives most women to freeze their eggs. The subjects in this particular study, which has not yet been published, came from seven different fertility clinics. In the United States, the women generally lived in cities along the East Coast or in the Bay Area. They ranged in age from 29 to 42, with three-quarters falling between 35 and 39.

Of the participating women, 85 percent were single and most were heterosexual. For about half of these single women, it was uncertainty about when they would meet a man to build a family with that brought them to the clinic, they told the researchers. The next largest group was driven there by a divorce or breakup. (Egg freezing was actually covered by several of these women’s divorce settlements.) This was followed by a smaller group of women who were deployed overseas and felt it was wise to freeze their eggs first and then a handful of women who were preparing to have a baby on their own. Career planning was the least common reason. Among the 15 percent of the subjects who were in relationships, the reasons for freezing their eggs were not unlike the single women’s: though they had a partner, he was not yet ready or not interested in building a family.

For more information please see our Egg Freezing page.

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