Author Name: Ruby Relton BSc MSc
As the reproductive health revolution is making its way to the workplace, “Hertility Answers” addresses queries from human resources, rewards and benefits managers on all things women’s health.
Employee benefits once encompassed things such as a free gym membership, company car or even a meal out every once in a while. However, more companies are now looking to offer egg freezing as part of their benefits programme.
What is egg freezing?
As a woman approaches mid-thirties, she gets closer to the ominous fertility cliff. Meanwhile, more women delay having children to pursue career growth and others often try juggling family forming and professional aspirations.
In an attempt to help, companies are offering women the opportunity to preserve their fertility potential by freezing their eggs.
Companies such as BlackRock are offering employees in the United Kingdom the opportunity to subsidise or completely fund the procedure. But, does providing egg freezing as a benefit serve your employees?
To freeze or not to freeze?
The main pros to providing egg freezing as a benefit are that it fosters reproductive autonomy and choice. It is an inclusive benefit that supports people to start their families at their own pace.
There are of course also a few concerns and uncertainties. Egg freezing doesn’t guarantee a baby. Women opting for this benefit need to be properly counselled to ensure they understand the pros and cons of egg freezing, and how this relates to their unique circumstances.
Critics of egg freezing feel that instead of providing women with more options, it encourages the view that you can have either children or a career in your 20s and 30s – but not both. This simply is not the case. We do however know that delaying childbearing into the late 30s/40s, decreases the chances of having a healthy baby and increases the risk of pregnancy-related complications.
Another consideration often overlooked is what will happen if a woman chooses to leave the company that helped pay for her egg freezing. Whilst being a welcomed benefit by female employees, it could also be viewed as coercive because costs don’t only come from freezing the eggs but also from storage, thawing when the time comes and fertilisation. If employment is ended for any reason, these costs will have to be covered out of pocket by the employee themselves who may not have the means.
What other options are there?
There are other ways to support your employees, in addition to providing egg freezing. This includes offering proactive hormone testing, educating your workforce on fertility and finally, providing well-rounded fertility and family-forming benefit programmes.
Companies should create different opportunities for employees to balance fertility, parenthood and work, being supportive of their employees’ life choices.
Hertilty Health is committed to improving access to reproductive healthcare for your workforce. Hertility provides educational workshops, female health assessments and consultations with in-house experts in fertility, menopause, PCOS, endometriosis and gynaecology.