Later, Baby: A Brief Look at Millennial Women + Egg Freezing

A few nights ago, I felt the need to indulge in some binge-watching. I hadn’t watched “The Mindy Project” since my girl made the move to Hulu, so it was definitely time to catch up. A major plotline in the fourth season involves Mindy trying to get her fertility practice off the ground. In the episode titled “Later, Baby,” Mindy and her colleagues go to NYU and explain to a lecture hall full of female students the importance of freezing their eggs in today’s world.

Here’s how Mindy put it:

“Let’s be honest, guys. Most men are complete garbage. … When I was your age, I thought that I was going to be married by the time I was 25. But it took a lot longer than that. And unfortunately, your body does not care if you are dating the wrong guy, or the guy you’re with is also sleeping with the rest of your dorm. Your body and your eggs just keep getting older, which is why freezing them is actually a pretty smart idea, because it gives you a little more time so that you can try to find that one diamond in the crap heap of American men.”

Mindy, my friend/idol/role-model, you have a point. While I wouldn’t go as far as to call “most men … complete garbage,” this is kinda half the story. In all of my millennial generation research and analysis, one of the major trends I continually note is that the young women of today are a bit more ambitious than the men. Millennial women are likelier than their male counterparts to go to college, likelier to graduate and likelier to live outside of their parents’ homes.

Here are a few, quick stats to digest:

  • In 2012, some 71% of women enrolled in college immediately after high school, whereas only 61% of young men did. (Pew Research Center, 2014)
  • Women are 33% more likely than men to earn a college degree by age 27. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2014)
  • 17.7% of men between the ages of 25 and 34 live at home with their parents, compared with 11.7% of women the same age. (U.S. Census Bureau, 2015)

So, when it comes to having kids, these stats manifest themselves in two ways: 1.) We no longer live in a world where young people are expected to follow some implicit blueprint; where American women in particular find themselves mothering three children before the age of 35 because that’s what they’re “supposed to do.” If that is what they want, cool. If it isn’t, that’s cool too. They can spend their 20s and 30s traveling the world, or working 12-hour days at a finance firm, or living on a yoga farm, or being a tatted up hipster running a coffee shop in Bushwick. 2.) In my (very) humble opinion, the stats I presented above put a strain on the dynamics of male and female dating. Cue: “No, I don’t want no scrub …” 😉 But for serious: It looks like it’s taking young men a bit longer to gain independence these days. So, for the women who do want to settle down and start a family, it takes work to find a dude who’s on the same page, emotionally and financially. It sucks, but we really are racing against a biological clock. And it’s not like college-educated men are likelier to be on board with having a baby before that clock runs out. Men who have a college degree are far more inclined to delay parenthood than guys who are less educated.

So, yeah … I’d say Mindy’s advice about egg freezing is not a bad option for millennial women who aren’t ready for a child just yet, but know they might want a baby at some point in the future. A lot of companies are even supporting this by covering the costs of egg freezing for their female employees. Apple, Google, Citigroup and Facebook are among them.

In preparation for this blog post, I went on Reddit and asked young women to share their experiences with egg freezing. One user directed me to check out stats on the procedure’s effectiveness. To be honest, they weren’t great. Only 2 to 12% of eggs are viable after being frozen. Some 77% of frozen eggs do not result in a live birth for women aged 30; and there’s a 91% failure rate for women aged 40. I can go on and on about all the sobering facts I read, but I won’t because at the end of the day … it’s a shot. Egg freezing is a chance at having it all in a world where we’ve been told that we can. It’s a chance for women to take charge and feel in control of their reproductive rights while they work to get their ducks in a row

My old college housemate summed it up best. She recently froze her eggs before undergoing an aggressive medical treatment, and was quoted in an article as saying, “Young women have to be their own advocates.” In today’s world, for women who want to keep their options open, I can’t think of a better way.

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