How would-be grandparents are paying for adult daughters to freeze their eggs so they can have babies later
16:45 GMT, 14 May 2012
Women approaching their mid-thirties who aren't ready to have children are not the only ones worrying about their reproductive futures.
Reports from fertility centres around the country are showing the increase of parental contribution as adult women opt to freeze their eggs.
For many would-be-grandparents, helping to cover the cost of the expensive oocyte cryopreservation is both an investment in their daughters' futures and in their own as well.
A helping hand: As more 30-somethings freeze their eggs to secure the possibility of having children later, parents are helping with the cost (Stock Image)
But such an arrangement, no matter how fortunate, is often the result of an awkward conversation especially if the parent is the first to bring it up.
Rachel Lehmann-Haupt, the author of In Her Own Sweet Time: Unexpected Adventures in Finding Love, Commitment and Motherhood, told the New York Times that this kind of conversation is 'the postmodern, adult birds-and-the-bees talk.'
One such adult is Jennifer Hayes, a business owner in Telluride, Colorado.
The owner of a successful restaurant, she had never foreseen that she would find herself childless at 36.
Also concerned were Ms Hayes' parents who were thrilled when she finally brought it up and agreed to help her pay for the procedure.
'My mom said to me, “Do you think we'd rather have this money sitting in an account or have a potential grandchild someday”' she recalled. 'When she positioned it that way, it somehow just changed the way I felt.'
Though nowadays women are afforded
the opportunity to follow career ambitions in their twenties, the
pressure to find a partner and start a family does not necessarily
diminish as the biological clock continues to tick into their thirties.
Egg freezing technology has in recent years improved
in leaps and bounds and many women reaching the 35 year old milestone have
begun to consider the treatment as a solution.
Among other doctors noticing a growing trend in parental assistance, Dr Daniel Shapiro from Atlanta told the New York paper that roughly three quarters of his patients undergoing the procedure are funded at least in part by their mothers and fathers.
'I was surprised at first about the parental involvement, but now I expect it to be the case, ' he said, explaining that many patients tell him: '”My parents want me to have this as a gift.”'
Indeed, the chance to have a child beyond the age of 35 could be considered a gift.
As Dr Joann Paley Galst from the American Fertility Association explained in a recent paper, by this age, a woman has lost 95% of the eggs in her ovaries.
Not only this but the eggs that are left are ageing rapidly and deteriorating in quality.
Until recently oocyte cryopreservation was a last resort for woman whose chances of having children were jeopardised by an illness like cancer, but thanks to advancements, egg freezing has become a credible option for others.
Much like IVF, the patient undergoes injections to stimulate egg production. She then has the healthy eggs extracted for cyropreservation until she decides to use them at which point they are thawed and fertilised.
Dr Paley Galst estimates that the cost of the treatment, that includes ovarian stimulation medications, tests, monitoring, egg retrieval, and fertilization of eggs, runs between $12,000 – $20,000 per cycle.
And as Ms Hayes was reminded, freezing eggs does not guarantee they will be healthy and responsive at the other end.
There are plenty of potential complications due to the extreme changes in temperature and women are normally advised to have more that one round.
All this makes the process a very expensive, high risk gamble and a helping hand from a family member therefore is certainly not something to sniff at.
Because egg freezing is still an experimental clinical treatment, as yet there is little data to show how many women are seeking treatment and how successful it has been.
But the consequences if one can afford it, transcend even the most obvious.
As another recipient of the treatment, Brigitte Adams, explained to The New York Times: 'No longer was I under such pressure that the next guy I dated would be daddy material.'