Egg freezing, so hot right now

When Leslie Kennedy landed a job at Facebook and moved from New York to California, she hadn’t given much thought to having a family. She was 30, single and focused on her career.

“I always knew that if I were to have a family, there were options — whether it be adoption or egg freezing or being one rock-star aunt,” Kennedy says. “I knew I had a very fulfilling life ahead of me, so it felt like I didn’t have that pressure.”

After a couple of years at Facebook, Kennedy learned the social network was expanding its family-planning benefits to offer everything from adoption assistance to paid surrogacy to egg freezing. That’s unusual. Most US companies don’t even offer paid maternity leave, much less egg freezing. Those types of benefits are expensive.

Egg freezing costs at least $10,000 a shot. It involves a surgical procedure in which a doctor retrieves eggs from a woman’s ovaries and then freezes them for use at a later date. While conceiving naturally can be difficult for women in their late 30s and 40s, research suggests they can carry a baby to term well into their 50s.

Although Kennedy wasn’t really thinking of getting her eggs frozen, she began to hear lots of buzz around the office as colleagues took advantage of the benefit.

“It just came up if you were above 30 and single,” Kennedy says.

So at 33 and just beginning a new relationship, she decided to take the plunge.

Facebook was the first tech company to announce it would pay for egg freezing — both for female staff and the spouses of its employees. That was in 2014. Soon after, Apple started offering it as a benefit too.

Today, at least a dozen tech companies have jumped on board — from Google to Uber to Yahoo.

“In 2016 we introduced a cryopreservation benefit that covers the freezing, storage and thawing of oocytes [egg cells], sperm and embryos,” says Carolyn Clark, Yahoo’s head of global internal communications. “Cryopreservation is part of a suite of family benefits that Yahoo offers, including generous parental leave program, infertility benefits, adoption assistance and more.”

Tech companies are known for offering impressive perks — like gourmet food, massages and dry cleaning — to attract employees. They’re also under pressure to attract more female employees to their mostly male workforces. Those two issues have put egg freezing and other fertility benefits on the vanguard of what tech companies are offering to entice and hold onto employees.

“I’m seeing big reasons why this policy has come to the front,” says Dan Bernstein, senior consultant at human resources consulting firm Mercer. “The first and foremost is the significant war for talent among high-tech companies, including the real need to attract and retain the best and brightest women.”

Read more at CNet.