People are having children later and late, and sometimes it doesn't work out for them. The solution? Freeze your eggs young and 'manage' your fertility. How do we want to shape the future of childbirth?
In the Netherlands, the average age to have your first child is around thirty. That number has been rising since the 1970s, and with it the number of women who face age-related infertility, but still want a child. There's certainly a wide range of treatments available for 'hopeful parents', but the chances of success are often slim. So specialists are increasingly recommending freezing your eggs young, so you have a healthy supply for later. The motto is: the smart woman freezes early.
In this episode, Backlight dives into the world of engineered fertility. We talk to fertility entrepreneurs, embryologists, IVF specialists, and researchers. One saw fertility as a gap in the market and founded Spain's first egg bank. Another is concerned about the commercialisation of fertility and is working on creating the UK's first not-for-profit 'fertility service'. One thing they have in common: they're all focused on catching up with the human biological clock.
Egg freezing parties are becoming increasingly common in the US. They're like the Tupperware parties of the future, for ambitious people in their twenties and thirties who want to postpone their desire to have children. In the Netherlands, the Kinderwens Medical Centre in Leiderdorp hosts fertility cafes – informal evenings where people can ask questions about the freezing process.
In a society where certainties like a house, job, or relationship are taking longer and longer to arrive, freezing eggs can be a solution for some people. But how do the costs of a freezing procedure - financial, emotional, and physical - compare with the chances of success? And when are we starting to slip into social engineering?