Why women put eggs on ice

A study sug­gests they are not pri­ori­tis­ing work, but bat­tling to find bright men

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - VIC­TO­RIA ALLEN

CA­REER women who choose their job over a baby are of­ten said to have put motherhood on ice.

Most who ac­tu­ally freeze their eggs, how­ever, don’t do so be­cause they are in­tent on suc­ceed­ing at work.

They do it be­cause they can’t find a sim­i­larly suc­cess­ful man, it has been claimed.

These highly ed­u­cated women, who pay around £5 000 (R85 000) each for egg freez­ing, are de­scribed in a new study as the “left­over women” in a gen­er­a­tion of “miss­ing men”.

Their prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to US and Is­raeli re­searchers, is that they are un­able to find sim­i­larly clever, driven men be­cause fewer males are en­ter­ing higher ed­u­ca­tion. It fol­lows re­ports that Bri­tish women are a third more likely to at­tend uni­ver­sity than men. The find­ings, from a study of 150 women, have been backed up by Bri­tish fer­til­ity clin­ics.

Study au­thor Mar­cia In­horn, pro­fes­sor of an­thro­pol­ogy at Yale Uni­ver­sity, said women who freeze their eggs have strug­gled to find suit­able mates.

“There are not enough grad­u­ates for them,” she said. “This is about an over­sup­ply of ed­u­cated women. In China they call them ‘left­over women’.”

Pro­fes­sor Geeta Nar­gund, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of Cre­ate Fer­til­ity, said the sit­u­a­tion was echoed in Bri­tain. “It is some­thing to cel­e­brate that more women are go­ing to uni­ver­sity, but at the same time, when it comes to start­ing a fam­ily, it seems there is now a so­ci­etal prob­lem with these women find­ing men at the same level of ed­u­ca­tion,” she said.

“Women tell us fre­quently they are freez­ing their eggs be­cause men they meet feel threat­ened by their suc­cess and so are un­will­ing to com­mit to start­ing a fam­ily to­gether.”

In Western coun­tries, soar­ing num­bers of women are freez­ing their eggs as an “in­sur­ance pol­icy” to beat their bi­o­log­i­cal clock.

The lat­est study, pre­sented at the Euro­pean So­ci­ety of Hu­man Re­pro­duc­tion and Em­bry­ol­ogy con­fer­ence in Geneva, ex­am­ined 150 women in the US and Is­rael, more than 90% of whom said they were not in­ten­tion­ally “post­pon­ing” their fer­til­ity be­cause of their ed­u­ca­tion or ca­reer.

Rather, they were “pre­serv­ing” their fer­til­ity be­fore their eggs ran low and they lost their chance to have a child, be­cause they were sin­gle or with­out a man to marry.

The au­thors said fe­male grad­u­ates, who out­num­bered male ones and made up four­fifths of the study group, were un­able to find ed­u­cated men will­ing to com­mit to fam­ily life.

Pro­fes­sor In­horn said: “Maybe women need to be more open to the idea of a re­la­tion­ship with some­one not as ed­u­cated.

“But also maybe we need to be do­ing some­thing about our boys and young men, to get them off to a bet­ter start.”

PIC­TURE: LEN­NART NILSSON/REUTERS

FROZEN HOPE: A hu­man em­bryo in the eighth week of de­vel­op­ment. In Western coun­tries, soar­ing num­bers of women are freez­ing their eggs as an “in­sur­ance pol­icy” .

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