In a bold step for assisted reproductive technology, researchers are working on a new technique to allow a woman to freeze-dry her eggs at their peak and preserve them for years. In her own kitchen cabinet. Because even if the workplace isn’t progressing, science is.
Back in October, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine officially recommended the removal of the ”experimental” label from the reproductive process of egg freezing, but experts haven’t stopped there. They have been working on a safer, lower cost method to keep those frozen eggs. So lean in ladies, the real-life solution to delaying your child-bearing years could be sitting in your pantry right next to the flour.
The freeze-dried eggs would be re-hydrated when mommy-to-be is ready to have the baby, fertilized with the sperm of her chosen mate or donor, and the resulting embryo transferred back into the woman for its 40-weeks of gestation.
The freeze-dried technique, developed by Amir Arav for Core Dynamics, is expected to be safer for the eggs than the current method of preserving eggs which involves flash freezing. It would also be much cheaper since eggs could be kept at home in a dark dry place, rather than stored in tanks of liquid nitrogen at your fertility clinic.
The Canadian article that interviewed Arav also reports that as many as 1/3 of fertility clinics across the country are already using the technique in preserving eggs, allowing women to quiet the tick-tock of their biological clocks while they continue searching for the right mate or pursue their careers. But Sheryl Sandberg need not fret over the Canadian advantage — Arav is already collaborating with Yale University to bring the procedure to the United States. This means all you ladies can lean in and heed her advice while still keeping your fertility on ice waiting for that perfect time when work approves of the distraction of kids.
I’m not a big Sandberg fan because she admittedly addresses “the chicken” (aka the women) vs. “the egg” (aka the workplace). Unlike the women Sandberg speaks to, I was encouraged to dream big, fight for equal treatment to male counterparts, and not let any obstacles get in the way of building the career I wanted.
My career wasn’t stalled by my lack of ambition, but my desire to cut down on the 70-hour work weeks once I became a mother. So me? I’d rather see radical changes in the way the workplace functions (for all Americans, not just mothers) mandating face-time at your desk and promoting 24/7 availability, but that’s my experience. Sandberg recognizes the war really exists on two fronts. In her own words from Lean In:
This is the ultimate chicken-and-egg situation. The chicken: Women will tear down the external barriers once we achieve leadership roles. We will march into our bosses’ offices and demand what we need, including pregnancy parking. Or better yet, we’ll become bosses and make sure all women have what they need. The egg: We need to eliminate external barriers to get women into those roles in the first place. So rather than engage in philosophical arguments over which comes first, let’s agree to wage battles on both fronts. I am encouraging women to address the chicken, but I fully support those who are focusing on the egg.
Ironically, Arav and his team of scientists focused on the egg, but their advances helped the chicken side of Sandberg’s debate.