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Eggs on ice: Should companies pay for women employees to freeze their eggs?

Have you ever heard of egg freezing? This is when a woman’s unfertilized eggs are frozen so that in the future they can be fertilized by sperm and, via in-vitro fertilization, be placed back in a woman’s uterus so she can have a baby. 

Up until recently, this technique was considered experimental and reserved for women undergoing chemotherapy (which can often destroy eggs and leave a woman unable to get pregnant). In the past few years, however, this experimental status has been removed and more women are undergoing the procedure.

Why might a woman want her eggs frozen? Aside from chemotherapy, there is the possibility that she may want to wait until she is older to get pregnant (with age comes more difficulty in getting pregnant). Freezing eggs when they are “younger” can increase her chances of not having to battle with infertility.

Some companies are now even covering egg freezing for their female employees. Facebook and Apple are two such companies, with more and more considering this option. Talk about a recruiting tool!

I personally think that companies offering to pay for this can only be good — for many career-minded women, the goals of climbing the corporate ladder and becoming a mother sometimes don’t mix well. These women, who fear the ticking fertility clock, often leave their jobs to start their families right when their career would be taking off. Because of this, many companies miss out on excellent talent, and many women often find it hard to re-enter the working world at the same level they were before.

Some critics say that this is an unnecessary medical procedure and that these companies are wasting money. I disagree, however. IVF is a costly procedure that often needs multiple rounds to work, and if egg freezing can avoid this financial burden, this preventive measure can more than make up for it. In addition, theoretically these forward-thinking companies should have less turnover, more employee loyalty, and will greatly benefit from not losing their female employees right at the peak of their careers. It’s a win-win for the boss and the little guy (or gal).

Have you ever worried about your career choice interfering with your choice of starting a family? Would you ever consider egg freezing? Should companies pay for women employees to freeze eggs?

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About Dr. Jennifer Lincoln, Bundoo OB/GYN

Dr. Jennifer Lincoln is a board-certified generalist obstetrician/gynecologist and attending physician in Portland, Oregon. She primarily works on labor and delivery has recently been certified as an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant.

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