Chicken or Egg

04.17.1412:30 PM ET

Career + Family = Solved?

Egg freezing seems to offer the possibility of having it all, but the odds are still only one in five.

The cover of Bloomberg Businessweek declares “Freeze Your Eggs, Free Your Career.” It is not breaking news that women who postponed having children have a harder time conceiving: the National Survey of Family Growth shows that among women 40 to 44, about half are childless by choice and half would like to have children but can’t conceive. Egg freezing seems to offer the possibility of really having it all. For between $11K-15K, a woman can undergo a round of egg freezing that includes 6 to 25 eggs; 8 to12 frozen eggs are needed for a successful pregnancy. The popularity of the procedure is increasing—in the past five years, New York University's clinic has seen egg freezing go from five percent of its business to 30 percent as the technology improved—and media attention increased. It seems fair to say that egg freezing has the power to be revolutionary. But caveat emptor: with egg freezing, a woman has about a one-in-five chance of a live birth and, as ever, the odds decrease with age. By the time she is 40, one out of every eight eggs is viable, and at 45, it’s one out of 20.