As a rising number of young women seek to preserve their fertility, Sirin Kale investigates the risks and rewards of “social” egg freezing – and what it could mean for the future of motherhood.
Thirty-one-year-old Alice, a public health consultant from London, has an unusual birthday present lined up for herself this year: a course of hormone-stimulating injections, followed by an invasive gynaecological procedure, at the cost of approximately £5,000. Meanwhile, roughly 3,500 miles away in Toronto, 25-year-old Zulany will also be marking her birthday this month with a visit to a fertility clinic, where she, too, will freeze her eggs. Her mother has promised her a party to celebrate.
During the pandemic, egg freezing has entered public consciousness like never before – for many, it has become the dominant topic of conversation, and the subject of numerous newspaper articles and podcasts. In 2020, the number of women in Britain undertaking or considering the procedure soared; at some clinics, enquiries jumped 50 per cent year on year. It’s not hard to understand why. For the past year, Covid-19 has made dating nigh on impossible – and sometimes even illegal. With opportunities for single women to meet future partners greatly diminished, more and more childless women in their late thirties – the average age to freeze eggs is about 38 – are seeking to preserve their fertility while their lives have been put on hold.
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