Assisted reproduction accelerates, as more employer health plans cover it

Egg being fertilized. Public Domain, Link

“Your boss will freeze your eggs now,” is the title of a New York Times article about the rapidly growing number of women freezing their eggs for future use, and how more and more health plans pay for freezing your eggs:

Spring Fertility, a clinic in Midtown Manhattan, looks like the place where the main characters on “Broad City” would have wound up if the millennial sitcom had done an episode about egg freezing….Across Spring’s clinics nationwide, the number of egg freezing cycles undertaken last year jumped 37 percent from the year before. That surge is visible at fertility clinics around the country, according to data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. The prototypical patient also seems to be getting younger, doctors say, a change coinciding with a steady uptick in corporate benefit packages that cover fertility preservation. In 2015 just 5 percent of large employers covered egg freezing; in 2023, nearly one in five did.

Some medical technologies spread slowly, but the embrace of fertility preservation has grown at a remarkable rate. In 2015 there were about 7,600 egg freezing cycles recorded nationwide, and by 2022, that number hit 29,803, a nearly 300 percent increase. An egg freezing cycle starts when a woman injects herself once or twice a day with hormones (see: “shots nights”) that stimulate the production of multiple eggs and ends about two weeks later when a physician extracts those eggs with a needle. Some patients go through multiple cycles in the hopes of getting more eggs, which are then preserved in liquid nitrogen tanks, a mad science experiment enabling deferred motherhood.

Egg freezing has been around since the 1980s, but for decades it was primarily used by cancer patients before undergoing treatment that might damage their fertility. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine lifted the treatment’s experimental label in 2012. In the decade that followed, the vast majority of people who froze their eggs fell into one defined demographic, painted vividly in anthropologist Marcia Inhorn’s book “Motherhood on Ice”: women in their late 30s who hadn’t settled down with romantic partners and wanted to preserve the option of becoming a mother….There are those who see it as a way to spend their early 30s focused on career, untethering professional timelines from reproductive ones. There are those who have seen friends freeze their eggs and figure they may as well do the same.

Artificial wombs could be coming soon, to prevent premature babies from dying or being permanently disabled due to premature life outside the womb. Doctors are already beginning to do womb transplants. A woman who was previously unable to have children recently received her older sister’s womb in the first womb transplant in the United Kingdom.

Doctors overseas are using artificial intelligence to detect cases of breast cancer more effectively. Artificial intelligence is now developing highly-effective antibodies to fight disease.

LU Staff

LU Staff

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By GIL