Page URL:

Women freeze eggs to find the right partner

12 September 2016
Appeared in BioNews 868

A study of women opting to freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons has revealed that the most common motivation given was not yet finding the right partner.

Kylie Baldwin, a researcher at De Montfort University in Leicester, interviewed 31 heterosexual women from the UK, US and Norway, aged between 32 and 44, who had decided to freeze their eggs, asking their reasons for doing so. Contrary to some of the perceptions that surround 'social' egg freezing, the results showed that not one of the participants said that they had opted to freeze their eggs for career reasons.

Presenting the findings at the British Science Festival, Baldwin explained that for these women 'it was about finding the right potential father for their child – a male partner who was committed to parenthood, who was going to perform that role of the hands-on father and would share ... the pleasures and pains of upbringing equally.'

The ability to freeze women's eggs was initially introduced for female cancer patients who ran the risk of losing their fertility during treatment. However, the technique is now being co-opted, with women across the UK choosing to do so for non-medical reasons. This trend is increasing continually, with 816 women choosing to freeze eggs in 2014 compared to just 29 in 2001, according to the most recent data (reported in BioNews 845).

However, there remain risks associated with egg freezing. Evidence suggests many women don't freeze their eggs until their fertility has already begun to decline more sharply (the average age at women freeze their eggs is 38), and this – paired with the difficulties of pregnancy later in life – means that women who have invested in freezing their eggs won't always achieve a successful pregnancy. Since 2001, 3676 British women have frozen their eggs, but fewer than 60 babies have been born to them.

Professor Robert Winston, chairman of the Genesis Research Trust, explains that many women who use this technology still have 'very little practical chance of a baby in most instances'.

Commenting on the latest study, Professor Emily Jackson at the London School of Economics told the Guardian that the results were consistent with other data emerging on egg freezing, but that it did not mean egg freezing is 'not entirely unrelated to work, in the sense that the reason why one might find oneself 38 and single might have something to do with what career conditions were like in one's 20s'.

Professor Jackson also points out that the ten-year statutory time limit on egg storage, which she has recently called on to be abolished (see also BioNews 868), means that while storing eggs earlier might be clinically sensible, they may not be available for use later on in life.

Baldwin also added that 'it is quite dangerous to start suggesting that by medicalising a social problem we can cure it.'

'If you've not met your partner, you've not met your partner, but I think it is a really bad message to give out that actually now we can get round this by egg freezing, because the majority of those women will still not have a baby,' she said.

The REAL reason why women are freezing their eggs - they are waiting for the perfect father
Daily Mail |  7 September 2016
Women are freezing eggs so they can find the right partner, research finds
De Montford University News (press release) |  8 September 2016
Women freeze eggs to gain time to find the right partners study finds
The Guardian |  7 September 2016
Women who freeze their eggs do so to meet the right partner and not for career, study finds
The Independent Online |  9 September 2016
9 July 2018 - by Georgia Everett 
Women are more likely to freeze their eggs due to a lack of a stable partner, rather than for career planning, according to a new study...
17 July 2017 - by Dr Rosie Morley 
Freezing ovarian tissue may provide a viable option for women who want to preserve their fertility, according to a recent study...
3 April 2017 - by Jamie Rickman 
Can egg freezing be considered a feminist technology? Should we really be addressing the failures of a social fabric that requires women to preserve their fertility at all? This event was an exciting opening to an urgently needed discussion and is the first in a series of 'fertile conversations' that should be eagerly anticipated...
31 October 2016 - by Sarah Norcross 
The Progress Educational Trust's event on preserving fertility was held in Edinburgh on 25 October...
24 October 2016 - by Dr Rachel Montgomery 
The World Health Organisation is considering making changes to the definition of infertility to recognise that every individual has the 'right to reproduce'...
4 April 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Pregnancy and live birth rates following IVF have continued to increase as the multiple-birth rate declines, according to the latest figures released by the HFEA...
8 February 2016 - by Dr Linda Wijlaars 
The US Department of Defense will offer to pay for active service members to have their sperm or eggs frozen in an effort to retain troops...
18 November 2014 - by Siobhan Chan 
By 2050, most women will opt to conceive through IVF using cryopreserved eggs and sperm, meaning that sex will become 'purely recreational', an eminent scientist has claimed...
20 October 2014 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
Apple and Facebook have acknowledged that they are offering their employees in the USA egg cryopreservation services for non-medical reasons in a move that has divided public opinion...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.