Freeze 'em or leave 'em

A doctor from the British Fertility Society tells 30-something women to freeze their eggs.

Published September 7, 2006 7:30PM (EDT)

Ladies, put down that gallon of Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra, set aside the latest Bridget Jones creed. It's time to freeze your eggs.

Dr. Gillian Lockwood of the British Fertility Society has set the U.K. abuzz over her call for 30-something women, or as she cutely puts it, the "'Bridget Jones' generation," to freeze their eggs if they aspire to motherhood, the BBC reports. She bases her advice on a simple scientific fact: As women age, so do their eggs. Half of a 40-year-old woman's eggs are abnormal, and her chance of giving birth to a baby with Down syndrome is much higher than that of a woman in her 30s, according to Lockwood. "I'd much rather that a 42 year old woman used healthy frozen eggs from her 30s than she took a chance on her 'time-expired' eggs from her 40s," Lockwood says. Often, women will put off motherhood only to find that theyve simply "missed the boat," she says.

Lockwood explains that her advice doesn't apply to young women who are in the position to have a baby. Instead, she's targeting women in their early to mid-30s who are still searching for the right partner, are establishing themselves financially or are saddled with caring for elderly parents. "In an ideal world, women would be able to combine a career, a home life and having children," Lockwood says. "But the reality is that it isn't an ideal world."

No kidding. But even in this highly imperfect world, how is paying to freeze and store your eggs the best option for a woman struggling financially? Not to mention, there's a mere 10 percent success rate for in vitro fertilization using frozen eggs, according to the U.K.'s Daily Mail. Postponing motherhood because you're still in search of the right partner is one thing, but being prevented from having a child because you're struggling to establish a career and care for elderly parents is another. As Lockwood's critics have pointed out, egg freezing seems a dismal solution to a larger societal problem: the lack of support for working mothers (and fathers, mind you). It isn't that there's an immediate solution or obvious fix-it to any of these problems, but why put the onus solely on women?

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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