Time for an eggcation?

Coining a phrase is all the rage these days, especially in the fast changing world of fertility technology. Now we have the latest one, an eggcation – a hybrid of egg + vacation. But what does it mean?

To give you a bit of background, the average age of motherhood is increasing in the west and in the UK, the number of women giving birth for the first time in their 30s exceeds the number giving birth in their 20s, while for women over 40 the number of births per year has doubled since 1990.

Sociologists suggest that this trend has been driven by women spending more time in education, work and by the rising costs of childbearing.

As this trend continues, set against the background of public information about the sharp decline in female fertility from age 35, more and more women are considering egg freezing as a form of insurance against age-related infertility in later years.

For instance the UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) confirms egg freezing to be the fastest growing form of fertility treatment in the UK, with uptake increasing by 10% per year.

So, back to an eggcation. The costs of freezing eggs is, let’s face it, high. Typical costs in the US are around $15,000 USD, which roughly includes $5,000 for the medication injections that stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs, and around $10,000 for the ultrasound investigations, blood analysis, anaesthesia, clinic fees and actual procedure, when the eggs are extracted and frozen.

This is why some women in the US are organising trips abroad to undergo the procedure. It means that they can share expenses such as travel, accommodation and take advantage of the group discounts that some international clinics offer. And there is no reason, once the procedure is completed, for the travelling companions not to enjoy themselves in terms of rest and recreation in some of the more exotic locations that are available. Hence eggcation!

Within the US itself, the dramatic increase in egg freezing, which saw a sevenfold increase from 2009 to 2013, is driving similar initiatives with some clinics offering discounts if you ‘Freeze with a Friend’. One or two clinics have introduced innovative options like ‘Freeze and Share’ that allows women to have the cost of their egg freezing covered in exchange for donating half of their eggs, and this may also be something we see more of in the future.

Yet even with the reduced cost of group egg freezing, the financial implications of the process are ongoing, because the cost of storing frozen eggs typically comes out to around $500 a year. Yet many women obviously feel it is worth it. As one younger woman puts it, “I am investing in my family future, which will be a fraction of the cost it would take to have a family with or without a partner later in life when my eggs are not as young.”

As for eggcations another benefit may well be that friends, as well as paying less can emotionally support each other, reducing stress and thereby improving results. What’s not to like?