When 27-year-old Rita Ora announced recently that she had frozen her eggs, she joined a long list of celebrities touting the procedure. “I wanted to be safe,” the singer-actress said. "Bachelorette" star Kaitlyn Bristowe called egg freezing a “backup plan.” Comedian Whitney Cummings tweeted that “freezing my eggs is going great.” And actress Olivia Munn advised that “every girl should do it.”
Social egg freezing — or egg freezing to delay childbearing rather than for medical reasons such as for infertility or a cancer diagnosis — has become an increasingly popular choice for women in recent years. But the positive narratives about the option being empowering represent only one side of the story.
On Friday, one of the first studies exploring the patient perspective in elective egg freezing was published in the international journal Fertility and Sterility. The findings provide a more nuanced view, reflecting a complicated mix of positive and negative feelings.
“Working with more and more patients going through egg freezing, we had the sense that this was emotionally more complex than people might have assumed initially,” said study co-author Heather Huddleston, an associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California at San Francisco.
For the most part, the women indicated they felt good about the experience. Some 89 percent said they were glad they froze their eggs even if they never used them, 88 percent said the procedure made them feel as if they had more options for their life, and 80 percent said they felt they had adequate information when choosing to freeze and store their eggs.
But there were a number of worrisome findings. A significant percentage of women grossly overestimated the probability of having a child, with some believing they had a 100 percent likelihood of having a child with their banked eggs. In a commentary accompanying the study, fertility specialist Kara Goldman of New York University Langone Medical Center called this finding alarming and “obviously unrealistic.”
“To the extent that this expectation of success may alter a patient's procreative plans, this misconception could lead to unintended childlessness with devastating consequences for these individuals,” Goldman wrote.
The extent of some women's regret was striking. Half of them reported some degree of regret a few years after undergoing the procedure. Most said their regret was mild, but 16 percent described moderate to severe regret.FWIW, my advice is, if you're going to have kids, have them young. It might be nice to have the extra money you might make by putting it off, but you're going to need the stamina.
Wombat-socho has "Rule 5 Sunday: Eponymous Shorts" up and at 'em at The Other McCain.