Darla Murray is a 34-year-old entertainment reporter from New York City. With her career on the rise and recently married, she and her husband made the decision to freeze her eggs.
“I think anytime you can take matters into your own hands, it’s really empowering,” Murray said. “This is an investment into my future.”
Egg freezing can cost between $5,000-$20,000, which can add a huge financial burden to an already personal choice. In 2014, Facebook and Apple became the first companies to offer up to $20,000 for employees to freeze their eggs, a rare benefit. According to a 2016 study, only 5% of large companies cover egg freezing.
“My best friend paid the full price, out of pocket, which would have been $20,000 plus. For my husband and me, that was just too steep of a price,” Murray said. “But once I’d done the research, and I found out that we could freeze my eggs for a significantly cheaper price, it was a no-brainer.”
Murray chose Extend Fertility, a clinic in New York City. Because the clinic only provides egg freezing and storage, and doesn’t create or implant embryos, the cost is significantly less — the procedure is $4,990, and hormone medications cost Murray an additional $3,000-$5,000.
“I would say the cost is the absolute biggest obstacle for myself and friends when deciding whether or not to freeze their eggs,” Murray said. “For us to have found Extend Fertility, which offered a hugely discounted price, suddenly made this a viable option and a really appealing decision.”
Murray is married and plans to have children in the next few years. She said the decision to freeze her eggs, while expensive, eased the stress over planning for a family.
“It’s just basically a kind of expensive insurance plan, a backup plan, but it’s nice to know they’re there,” Murray said. “It gives me some peace of mind and ease about deciding whether or not to have kids right now.”
Egg freezing is becoming more common among women — one fertility clinic predicts 76,000 people will freeze their eggs in 2018. In 2009, only 500 women froze their eggs, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART). The numbers are expected to grow as more and more women wait to have children.
According to the CDC, 21% of women have their first child between 30 and 34, and 9.1% were 35 or older. While studies show women are most fertile in their 20s, many women may not feel ready or prepared to start a family. They may be focusing on their careers or other personal goals, looking for a partner, or working to become more financially secure.
Murray said her career played a role in her decision to freeze her eggs, which she says allowed her to take control of her options.
“You’re not in a rush to have kids, [and] you’re really working on your own timeline now,” she said.
The process of egg freezing involves injecting the body with hormones to produce multiple eggs, which are later retrieved from the ovaries and frozen. When a woman decides she wants to use her eggs, they’re unfrozen, fertilized and then implanted inside the uterus as embryos.
Murray doesn’t know if she will use the eggs she freezes, but the assurance that she has them if she needs them is worth the cost.
“We might not ever even use these eggs. When the time is right, we [might] get pregnant naturally,” Murray said. “Freezing my eggs is an investment in our future and in our family’s future so that we can have it all one day when we’re ready.”