As more women enter the workforce and take up leadership positions, many are deciding to delay kids — and more people than ever are turning to egg freezing.
Preaching empowerment, boutique clinics like Kindbody promise women they can have it all — a career now, a baby later. And it appears to be a welcome invitation.
- Over 84% of young women would freeze their eggs to “improve opportunities for career progression.”
- A decade ago, only 500 women froze their eggs in the US. Since then, that number has exploded 2,695% to 13,000+.
- Kindbody clinics saw a 3x increase in the number of egg-freezing cycles last year.
But the egg freezing process is extremely expensive. Without coverage, patients can spend up to $40,000, from treatment to medication to storage. Now, 88% of workers say they would change jobs for fertility benefits, and startups are partnering with employers to meet booming demand:
- 25% of Kindbody’s revenue comes from working with major US health insurers.
- Carrot Fertility has nearly 100 partnerships, including with tech giants Slack and Foursquare.
- Maven Clinic has seen a 400% increase in membership for its employer- and payer-sponsored programs.
Lean in, leave the kids. Not everyone is a fan. Françoise Baylis, a bioethics professor, believes the arrangement is manipulative and actually “disempowers [women] by overtly entrenching the otherwise subtle message that women who have babies are not serious about their careers.”
Others think that private clinics that take marketing cues from the likes of SoulCycle and Drybar are glossing over an emotional and physically demanding process, cashing in on young women’s fears, and providing a false sense of hope.
Indeed, the implicit promise these clinics make—a future baby—can be dangerously misleading.
Egg freezing is still a relatively new technology and, because most frozen eggs haven’t been thawed yet, little has been done to confirm success rates. As Dr. Pasquale Patrizio, director of the Yale Fertility Center, points out: “It’s not the same as when you buy insurance for your house or a car.”
Takeaway: Egg freezing is becoming all the rage for families wanting to expand their pool of fertility options, especially women who want to develop their careers before raising kids.
Despite criticism of some startups, overall increased awareness around family planning is probably a good thing — a troubling amount of couples across the world make incorrect assumptions about fertility and age, only uncovering the truth after it’s too late.
Says Kindbody CEO Gina Bartasi, “Once [women] are armed with the information, the choice is up to them.”