The American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) ethics committee recently released new guidance
The guidance stated that healthcare professionals should stop using the term ‘social egg freezing’ and instead use ‘planned egg freezing’
So, what is wrong with using the term ‘social egg freezing’?
At first glance, the term social egg freezing seems pretty accurate. After all, women are choosing to freeze their eggs so that they can enjoy all kinds of social situations and behaviours without worry about their fertility later in life, right?
As an individual woman’s motivation for freezing her eggs is nothing to do with anyone else, egg freezing should always be considered preventative medicine, and never lumped into ‘social’ or ‘lifestyle’ procedures.
For many women, there is nothing ‘social’ about freezing their eggs
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has listed infertility as a disease,’ and so any choice that a woman makes to address her current or potential future issues around getting pregnant is a medical choice.
The choice to freeze eggs to address a potential fertility issue in the future has been likened to the choice to remove breast tissue when facing potential breast cancer in the future. Referring to the decision to freeze eggs as ‘social’ would be akin to calling a preventative mastectomy a ‘social’ surgery. The term ‘social’ is certainly not applicable in either of these situations.
As any woman facing infertility knows, the struggle around when, how, and if she can have a baby is anything but social. On the contrary, it can be an extremely lonely and isolating experience, and the use of the word ‘social’ in this context is inaccurate and rather offensive.
‘Social’ egg freezing diminishes women’s life choices
In the past, the only women assumed to need to freeze their eggs were those harried career gals who didn’t prioritise having children or those who may not have found their life partner.
Let us be clear – there is absolutely nothing wrong with a woman who simply chooses to freeze her eggs – whether that is to advance her career, travel, or simply wait until she feels ready. But remember – on average, women sometimes earn less money than men for doing the same jobs, and so the choice to focus on career may not be as simple as climbing the corporate ladder.
Some women simply don’t have the resources or ability to take time away from work for maternity leave. Whether they are worried about being replaced, are freelancers with a demanding client load, or simply can’t afford it, freezing her eggs might be her only financial choice.
What do you think about the term ‘social egg freezing?’ Do you think that there is no need to worry about these words, or are you happy to never hear these words again? Get in touch, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your views