Facebook-and-Apple-Egg-FreezingImage courtesy of Photokanok / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialist in NJ, I talk about and actually freeze eggs every week. For many years I helped to conduct egg freezing research, so the fact that egg freezing is no longer considered experimental is liberating for me as a physician. It is wonderful to be able to tell women that they have yet another option, with measureable and very reasonable success rates. Young women with cancer do not have to give up hope of having a family just to survive – egg freezing can significantly improve their chances to conceive after egg-toxic, but life-saving chemotherapy and radiation. Egg freezing can be used to preserve fertility for any medical condition that threatens fertility or mandates a delay in child-bearing.

Now, Facebook and Apple have taken the bold step of paying for egg-freezing for non-medical reasons – covering egg freezing for employees that want to freeze their eggs not because they have cancer or some other medical condition that causes infertility but so they can electively delay child-bearing or preserve their fertility if they do not have a partner or are not yet ready to have a baby.

The announcement of this new employee benefit at these highly visible companies has many people wondering: is this a good thing or a bad thing? Is this a pro-family, pro-female, supportive move by these companies to give their employees more choices? Is this an effort to give women what they want, and position these companies as highly desirable places for the best and brightest young, talented females to work? Or is this a patriarchal move in a male-dominated sector to signal to their female employees that egg freezing is in,

is this a #Patriarchal move to signal to their #FemaleEmployees that #EggFreezing is in?

but pregnancy, and all the workplace issues attached to pregnancy: maternity leave, family obligations, child-care issues, are out?
#pregnancy #WorkplaceIssues #MaternityLeave #FamilyObligations #ChildCare issues are out?

I am taking the glass-half-full point of view: so many of the highly successful technologies in my field of infertility are not covered by insurance, I applaud Apple and Facebook for giving this benefit to their employees. I hope they make certain that the egg freezing benefit is only one component of family friendly policies for both men and women, so people can thrive at work and at home. I see egg freezing as a very positive, proactive option in an entire range of things that women can do for themselves to preserve their fertility, health and wellness and I hope women at these companies will see this in the same way: as another choice they can make for themselves.

@DrSerenaHChen hopes #Women @Facebook #Apple will see this as #AnotherChoice they can make

Egg freezing is not for everyone, but every woman should know about it and understand the basics. All physicians who care for women should know and understand how to counsel women to be proactive about their fertility and their reproductive health. Physicians should be telling women that smoking will kill their eggs and that excess weight significantly increases the risks for infertility and miscarriage and that fertility in women declines significantly with age, especially after age 35. Physicians should tell women that if they have fibroids or endometriosis, or PCOS (PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome) or a family history of any of these conditions that they should be proactive about getting an evaluation before they are ready to conceive, that there are things they can do now about these conditions to try to give themselves a better chance at conception later. The ideal age for egg freezing is between 25 and 35 and this can be a complex decision that requires time and consideration. Women should know about and understand their options without the pressure or panic of the biological clock and that means being proactive about counseling all young women, starting in their early 20s. Having this benefit available to employees gives them the space, the comfort and resources to be able to consider this as an option, one of many. One of the best things about this new benefit at Facebook and Apple is the media attention it has generated. Knowledge is power and Facebook and Apple have dramatically raised awareness of fertility issues and the option of egg freezing for fertility preservation for women everywhere. Hopefully other corporations will follow their lead and realize that paying for prevention of problems may have more benefits for employees and employers than only paying for treatment of disease.


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