No stable partner, not career, behind women freezing eggs: Study

NEW YORK: Lack of a stable relationship could be the reason why young women are increasingly opting to freeze their eggs, contrary to the popular belief of delaying childbearing due to pursuing education or career, says a study.

The findings showed that 85 per cent who chose to freeze their eggs, were without partners, and reflected six different life circumstances — being single, divorced or divorcing, broken up from a relationship, working overseas, single mother by choice or circumstance, and career planning.

Among these, career planning was found as the least common reason.

Moreover, those with partners had circumstances such as a man not ready to have children, in a relationship too new or uncertain, with a partner who refuses to have children, or with a partner with his own multiple partners.

“Most of the women had already pursued and completed their educational and career goals but by their late 30s had been unable to find a lasting reproductive relationship with a stable partner. This is why they turned to egg freezing,” said Marcia Inhorn from the Yale University in the US.

“The medical literature and media coverage of oocyte cryopreservation — egg freezing — usually suggest that elective egg freezing is being used to defer or delay childbearing among women pursuing education and careers.

“Our study, however, suggests that the lack of a stable partner is the primary motivation,” Inhorn said.

For the study, presented at the 34th Annual Meeting of ESHRE in Barcelona, the team conducted in-depth interviews with 150 women who had chosen to freeze their eggs at fertility clinics and had completed at least one cycle of oocyte cryopreservation.

“Clinicians must be aware of the role partnership ‘troubles’ play in the lives of egg freezing patients and make patient-centred care for single women a high priority,” Inhorn said.