More young women are opting to pay the cost to freeze their eggs in order to have more control over their fertility. But is it always a good investment?
As women gain greater representation in every industry and career, it’s becoming clearer how many personal and financial trade-offs they are forced to make to keep pace with men. The price of egg freezing is just one more in a long list of costs only women pay to have the life they want.
Why are women freezing their eggs?
Freezing your eggs is a personal decision that is influenced by a number of factors for each individual. Here are some of the most common reasons women freeze their eggs:
- They want to focus on their career during their best child-bearing years
- They haven’t met the right partner to start a family with
- They are undergoing treatment for an illness that may impact their fertility (ie. chemotherapy for cancer) and want to preserve healthy eggs for when they are well again
But there are a number of other events and circumstances that can impact a woman’s reproductive choices as to whether she wants to have children, how many, when, where, and with whom!
The good news is women have more choices around their fertility and motherhood than ever. The bad news is they are still disproportionately suffering the personal financial repercussions thereof.
The cost of freezing eggs
It costs $10,000 to extract and freeze your eggs in Canada, then an additional $300 per year to store them. When you’re ready to use them to start a family, expect to spend $6,000 per IVF cycle.
In the USA, egg freezing can cost $15,000 to $20,000 and an additional $1,200 per year for storage.
Overall, you should expect to spend $20,000 to $30,000 freezing your eggs and getting pregnant by IVF in Canada. You’ll spend up to $60,000 for the same in the USA. As someone that accidentally got pregnant for free, this total is shocking!
Does insurance pay for egg freezing?
If you’re still trying to grapple with the cost of freezing your eggs, there are some options to help you afford it.
Employer health insurance at Apple, Facebook, Google, will pay for egg freezing
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the dudebro tech giants of Silicon Valley have made it easier to be more like a man in your career by offering egg freezing as an employment perk.
There is always something to be said about offering more options and benefits to parents. However, the perk sends the message that your career should be placed ahead of your family at all costs.
The Ontario Fertility Program (OFP)
Canada provides universal healthcare to its citizens for any essential and emergency treatments. If you live in Ontario, IVF counts! The OFP will cover 1 IVF cycle per lifetime for women under the age of 43 who have an OHIP card.
Presently, no other provinces are offering any coverage for IVF with their health plans. However, the costs of freezing your eggs and IVF are eligible for the federal Medical Expense Tax Credit!
Is freezing your eggs a good investment?
At first glance, it might seem like the cost of freezing your eggs is worth it to extend your fertility and give you more control over when and how you start a family. However, there are some downsides to egg freezing you need to be aware of.
Freezing your eggs doesn’t guarantee viable embryos later
Only about 19% of IVF procedures result in a live birth using a patient’s own frozen eggs. Can you imagine spending $20,000 to $60,000 on something that doesn’t even work more than 80% of the time? This is the gamble with paying to freeze your eggs.
Infertility is complex. It’s impossible to know how many of the women who face challenges with IVF would have had the same struggles trying to conceive naturally. Nevertheless, the success rate of freezing your eggs is something to consider in the cost.
When you freeze your eggs matters
It’s recommended you freeze your eggs before age 36. Unfortunately for women, our best childbearing years coincide with those we are typically pursuing higher education and climbing the corporate ladder. These are the same years we are paying down student loans and trying to survive on dismal starting salaries.
The result? Many women can’t actually afford to freeze their eggs when it would be most beneficial to do so. If you’re currently in your 20’s, you may want to begin saving for the procedure if its something you may want.
The problem isn’t aging, it’s the patriarchy
At first glance, it looks like we’re doing good for career-focused women. After all, egg freezing gives you more control over when you start a family. This allows you to allot more time to your career during its most crucial years. Then you can have a baby when you’re more professionally established.
But this is misleading.
What egg freezing does is what most “accommodations” for women do: find more creative ways to further shift the financial burden of raising children onto women instead of coming up with real solutions that could benefit society as a whole.
We need to support working parents
Not all women who freeze their eggs need that option. What many of them really need is affordable, accessible childcare. This would empower them more than anything else. It would allow them to have children earlier without disrupting their education or careers.
On-site daycares at colleges, universities, and workplaces are a better investment than forcing women to spend money on egg freezing. If we made having a child less disruptive to careers, the cost to both employers and individuals would go down. Families would enjoy more economic security, and companies would enjoy more economic productivity.
Additional sick days for when your child is sick, as well as flex time and more work from home options would also make it easier for parents to juggle the demands of childrearing alongside their careers. While egg freezing is a great option for many, it’s not the only thing we need to consider.