Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Why egg freezing is important to me

For the past several weeks there has been a lot in the news about egg freezing. Specifically Facebook and Google announcing that they are going to add egg freezing to their employee benefit portfolio.  This caused an avalanche in criticism (e.g., this) as well as kudos (e.g., this, this) for the companies involved. Essentially there was a whole lot about how this is a huge perk for women because they can work hard in their careers without having to worry about potential future infertility as well as how it benefited the companies because they wouldn't lose employees to parenthood.  One thing that was glaringly absent is talk of the short and long term health risks for women who choose to undergo elective egg freezing.  Enter Pamela, an ever-present voice for women, who wrote this and this and a few days later Josephine Johnston and Miriam Zoll wrote this. All of these badass women wrote about these exact issues. For some reason the egg freezing debate really resonated with me.  It's an issue that I've been doing a lot of reading about over the past week or so, mainly in (nerd alert) bioethics and law journals with a few medical journals thrown in for good measure, and I can honestly say that the more I read the more infuriated that I get.

So why have I devoted so much time to an issue that has little impact on my day to day life?  Because it could have.  You see, ten years ago I was 23, two years out of college and had my first grown-up job and paycheck.  I threw myself headfirst into my work.  I wasn't in a steady relationship and babies weren't even on my radar (well, except in the sense that I wanted to avoid one at all costs).  Same at 24 and 25.  I started a Master's program and I was dating a guy who was nice, but I was nowhere near ready to settle down and babies still weren't a blip on my radar.  At 26 I met Hubs, quit my much loved job, moved to a different state, took a huge pay cut, and went back to school full time.  Preventing babies was again the only item on my reproductive agenda.  By the time we started trying in earnest, right before my 31st birthday, we couldn't have known that my ovaries had already all but crapped themselves.  So that brings me to egg freezing.  If someone had told me at 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 that I could freeze my eggs to potentially preserve my fertility later down the line I would have, at minimum, given it serious thought, and maybe even gone through with it.  If it were a perk offered by my employer I almost definitely would have taken advantage of it.  Most of the available, easily accessible information conveniently glosses over the health risks and success statistics, and 23 year old me probably wouldn't even have picked up on it.  I mean, it sounds like a good insurance policy, right?  Maybe it could have made the situation that we're currently in a little more manageable?  The likely answer to that question is a resounding no!

I don't think that's uncommon for someone in their 20s to make big decisions without carefully considering all aspects.  I know that I certainly didn't carefully consider all of my decisions at that age.  At the end of the day, I'm so glad that I didn't have the option to freeze my eggs and I'm glad that I didn't have to make that decision.  But women from this point forward do have the option to freeze their eggs readily available and will have to make the decision, and that's why it is so important to get the word out by whatever means possible.  Egg freezing isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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