LIFESTYLE

Facebook And Apple Pay For Female Employees To Freeze Their Eggs, But Is This Progressive Or Regressive?

15/10/2014 17:04 BST | Updated 16/10/2014 10:59 BST

Apple and Facebook have announced they pay for female employees to freeze their eggs. And, understandably, the news has divided opinion.

Although the scheme is designed to appeal to women, the move has reignited debate about the role of women, motherhood and work.

Financial support to freeze eggs is just one of the new offers from Apple, including a new extended maternity leave policy.

older woman pregnant

In recent years there has been a surge in the amount of women choosing to postpone motherhood, with some even attending 'egg freezing parties' alongside their friends.

Blogging on HuffPost UK Lifestyle, Veronica Montgomery explained why so many women are considering freezing their eggs.

"In this day and age, many young women attend university, focus on their careers, and don't even settle down in to a relationship until their 30s - it is becoming more and more common for a woman to start thinking about children in her late 30s or early 40s when her best fertile years have passed.

"For many women who are trying to conceive in this age bracket, conception is difficult and then they are faced with the prospect of undergoing IVF, which can be expensive and is less successful on women of advanced maternal age," she said.

The egg freezing schemes from Apple and Facebook are designed to appeal to women like those Montgomery describes, who may want to focus on their career but not sacrifice their chance of motherhood in the future.

It is undeniable that if a women decides she wants to delay motherhood, an employer's offer to foot the bill will make egg freezing available to many who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford it.

Facebook is offering support for egg freezing now, while Apple will make the same offer open to employees from January 2015.

SEE ALSO:

Women Can Invest in Their Reproductive Future by Banking Eggs; But They Shouldn't Leave It Too Late

Could Delaying Motherhood Put Your Life At Risk?

According to NBC, in America egg freezing costs around $10,000 (£6,300) for every round, plus $500 (£314) or more annually for storage. Doctors often recommend women freeze at least 20 eggs, which can require two rounds of treatment.

Up to $20,000 (£12,600), will be offered to Apple and Facebook employees to help cover the cost of freezing eggs.

Fertility expert Dr Geeta Nargund has has previously shown her support for egg freezing, saying the advances in technology mark a step towards equal rights for women in the workplace.

"The development of egg vitrification is a ground-breaking development in its ability to empower women and provide them with the freedom to choose when they have their children, and for these reasons I believe it to be a key milestone on the road to gender equality," she said.

Some on Twitter have also described the move by the tech giants as "progressive".

But others do not see the news as such a positive. The policy has been called "creepy" by some Twitter users while others have aired concerns that fertility is being used as a company "perk".

Perhaps the key thing to remember is that egg freezing is a great option for some women, and Facebook and Apple have now made that option available to many more employees.

But women (or men for that matter) should never feel under pressure to delay parenthood - companies should provide support, whenever their employees decide to have children.

It's fantastic that egg freezing has been presented as an option for women who wish to succeed in business, but it should never become a prerequisite.

As Oliver Black, founder of My Family Care, has said: "This looks like an amazing benefit from industry innovators but it’s only great if it’s matched by great working practices and benefits that support employees that decide to press ahead with families earlier in their careers. It needs to be an added benefit – not a demand.”

10 Things You May Not Know About Your Fertility