About.com Health and Fertility Advocate on the Egg Freezing Debate
About the Author | Rachel Gurevich
Rachel Gurevich is the fertility expert for About.com and author of three books. She is a 2014 recipient of a Hope Award for Achievement from Resolve: The National Association for Infertility. She invites you to check out her site at http://infertility.about.com and to connect with her onTwitter () or on Facebook at About Fertility.
The egg-freezing debate has the media up in arms over whether these perks, soon to be offered by Apple and already available to Facebook employees, are good or bad for women.
It's 2014, people: let women decide what they want to do.
Now, I'm not saying that egg-freezing is a great solution to work-family balance. I'm not saying I think most women should go for it.
I really think it should be used only in very special cases or in case of medical need.
However, that should not be my decision. It belongs to the woman making the decision about what to do with her body.
Just like I don't want corporations, governments, or insurance plans to decide what birth control I can use, I don't think they should have a say in how I plan my family or handle my fertility.
More Options or Corporate Pressure?
The biggest fire in the debate is whether Apple and Facebook are somehow trying to hint that women should freeze their eggs so they can advance their careers.
But can't the same be argued for covering birth control? Or fertility-ending procedures like vasectomies or tube tying?
Medically speaking, birth control is way more likely to help a woman push off having kids than egg-freezing. Egg-freezing doesn't keep you from getting pregnant...
Remember, too, that some insurance plans don't cover egg-freezing even in the case of medical need.
I’d be willing to bet that even those that do cover egg-freezing before cancer treatment may not cover cryopreservation for women with a family history of early menopause or primary ovarian insufficiency.
These women have just as much of a medical need to consider egg-freezing as a cancer patient, but they probably wouldn’t be covered. But Apple and Facebook’s plans would cover them.
Coverage, in whatever way, should be celebrated, not demonized.
But Isn't Offering Egg-Freezing So Freely Dangerous to Women?
There's definitely some disagreement in the medical community on whether egg-freezing should be used to put off childbearing. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists don't recommend it.
I agree with them. However... no one is currently saying it shouldn't be an option. Only that women who choose that path should be well-informed of all the risks.
As an aside, egg-freezing is not the only optional medical procedure being covered by insurance providers that may have more risks than benefits.
For example, there's lap band surgery.
This elective surgery is marketed to obese individuals who have not been able to lose weight through traditional means.
The surgery is highly controversial. Many physicians are against it as a solution to obesity, and for a good percentage of people, it’s not a good long-term solution. It also has some seriously long term side effects. It’s way more risky that egg-freezing.
But it's still covered.
Bottom Line on the Egg-Freezing Debate
It’s not a big shock that there’s debate over this issue. It follows along with the general pattern that tends to occur with all women’s health issues in this country, especially reproductive issues.
There’s this theme that women can’t be trusted to make informed choices.
It also follows the pattern of fear and stigma that surround assisted reproductive technologies.
But that’s okay. We know you can make choices for yourself. We also know that sigma only lessens when things are talked about.
We, as a nation, need to talk about all these issues.
Let them talk... maybe it’ll lead to even more coverage for fertility.
For more on this debate, including some things to consider before you freeze your eggs, please read my article here at About Fertility.