Feb 17, 2020 - Health

Egg freezing frees women from their biological clocks but isn't foolproof

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A lucrative industry for egg freezing has sprouted in the past 10 years, allowing women to postpone pregnancy. Experts say easy access to the procedure isn't translating into more women using the eggs they put on ice.

The big picture: Nearly 90% of women said they were happy they froze their eggs, regardless of whether they will ultimately get used, according to FertilityIQ, an educational and reviewing site for fertility clinics.

  • A small 2017 study published in Human Reproduction found that more than 90% of patients who froze their eggs for non-medical reasons haven't tried to thaw them.

Context: While the U.S. birth rate is at an all-time low, women are regarding the fertility business as an extension of family planning. They're freezing their eggs as a precaution even if they're never diagnosed as infertile.

  • Egg freezing has become much more affordable. And while some companies offer insurance coverage for the procedure, only 30 Fortune 500 companies offer coverage, CNBC reports.
  • It also helps free up the societal pressures to find a partner before their mid-30s, when estrogen levels peak, in order to have a family.

By the numbers: Nearly 11,000 women froze their eggs in 2017, per the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. The market is projected to grow 25% annually over the next two years, FertilityIQ tells Axios.

  • On average, women spend $15,000 to $20,000 per extraction cycle in addition to about $1,000 a year to store them at a facility, FertilityIQ tells Axios.
  • To tap into those eggs for in vitro fertilization (IVF) could cost thousands of dollars more.
  • Women 35 and younger were twice as likely to have more eggs extracted and successfully frozen compared to those 35 and older, per data collected by FertilityIQ.

Yes, but: Egg storage and thawing is a very fragile process and therefore, the financial and physical expense women undergo isn't a guarantee come time for fertilization.

The bottom line: Women say freezing their eggs is more than being able to delay family, but that the procedure gives them a sense of insurance and freedom, the New York Times reports.

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International Women's Day and the glass ceiling

Data: Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Women running for national and state office may be on track to break the record-setting runs and gains of 2018, as Republicans try to catch up with their Democratic counterparts.

Yes, but: The Super Tuesday results, and Elizabeth Warren's withdrawal, effectively ended any chance that this will be the year a woman wins the presidency. On International Women's Day this weekend, it's worth remembering that the struggle to reach the White House masks a lot of real progress at lower levels.

Female protesters often lead to effective mass movements

Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images, Marwan Naamani/picture alliance via Getty Images, and ANWAR AMRO/AFP via Getty Images

Gender-based violence, WhatsApp message taxes and the rising cost of bread have set off some of the largest protests in the past year, and women were among the first in the streets, often risking their personal safety.

Driving the news: Women in Mexico have organized "A Day Without Us," a national strike on March 9, to coincide with International Women's Day. Women are encouraged to "disappear": to stay at home, away from work, out of stores and off the streets to highlight their vital role, The New York Times writes.

Go deeperArrowMar 9, 2020 - World

The women who set Twitter on fire in 2019

Ariana Grande performs. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images

Singer Ariana Grande was the most tweeted about woman in the past year, topping politicians like Hillary Clinton and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, according to data reported by Twitter.

The big picture: In the past three years, of 125 million tweets about feminism and equality, 3 million specifically mentioned "intersectionality," where race, gender and ethnicity meet. Last year's International Women's Day was among the top topics.