The newest innovation in assisted reproduction is oocyte cryopreservation, more commonly known as egg freezing, which has been developed as a method of fertility preservation. Studies emerging from around the world show that highly educated professional women are turning to egg freezing in their late thirties to early forties, because they are still searching for a male partner with whom to have children. For these women, egg freezing may be a new “hope technology” for future romance; but it may also be a “technology of despair,” as women navigate the ends of a failing relationship. Based on the largest ethnographic study to date, undertaken with 150 women who froze their eggs for nonmedical reasons in the United States and Israel, we examine egg freezing at the end of romance. Relationship dissolution—involving divorce, separation, broken engagements, and relationship breakups from men who are unfaithful, controlling, rejecting, uncommitted, or unready for fatherhood—is one of the major pathways to egg freezing. When such relationship dissolution ruptures a woman’s reproductive life course, egg freezing may become a “technology of repair,” allowing women to find new strengths and opportunities as well as new visions for the future.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank Jennifer DeChello, Jeannine Estrada, Rose Keimig, Sandee Murray, Tasha Newsome, and Mira Vale for various forms of editorial, study recruitment, and transcription assistance. The authors are also grateful for the study support provided by our colleagues Joseph Doyle, Norbert Gleicher, and Lynn Westphal in the United States, and Martha Dirnfeld, Dror Meirow, and Daniel Seidman in Israel. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was funded by the US National Science Foundation, BCS-1356136 (principal investigator [PI]: Marcia C. Inhorn and co-PI: Pasquale Patrizio).
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This study was funded by the US National Science Foundation, BCS-1356136 (principal investigator [PI]: Marcia C. Inhorn and co-PI: Pasquale Patrizio).
© The Author(s) 2021.
- assisted reproduction
- egg freezing
- men as partners
- oocyte cryopreservation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Economics and Econometrics
- Human-Computer Interaction