IFLG-COVID-19-Accelerates-Egg-Freezing-Boom-Rich-Vaughn

COVID-19 Accelerates Egg-Freezing Boom

Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, already growing in popularity as a way to preserve fertility against disease and to postpone childbearing for career reasons, has exploded during the COVID-19 era.

Early predictions of a post COVID-19 “baby boom” as an end product of enforced home confinement haven’t quite panned out; apparently many people decided the pandemic and accompanying social unrest was a good reason NOT to procreate.

But for others, the enforced confinement of COVID-19 shutdowns, the shift to telework and the existential threats to health and safety were a wake-up call, a reminder of biological limitations and a desire to take control of events.

One unexpected result, as we reported earlier, has a been a growing demand for and a shortage of sperm donors.

Another has been a skyrocketing demand for egg freezing, as more women, after a year of COVID-mandated isolation, seek to buy more time to further careers or to find the right partner before becoming mothers.

Egg Freezing Developed to Help Women Undergoing Cancer Treatment

Egg freezing, was originally developed in the 1980s as a way for women with serious medical conditions to preserve the option to have children later in life, according to a report by The Guardian.

“In 2012, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine removed the ‘experimental’ label from the procedure, paving the way for ‘social’ or ‘elective’ egg freezing to grow in popularity,” the report continues.

In the ensuing years, an entire industry sprang up to meet demand, and today the process is marketed to young professional women as another form of “self-care” and feminist empowerment. Between 2009 and 2017, the number of U.S. women who froze eggs increased by 23 times, according to a report from Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), The Guardian reports.

Statistically the age at which women reproduce has been going up for decades. In Australia, the fertility rate of women aged 35-39 doubled between 1987 and 2017; among 40-44 year-olds, it tripled, according to Dr Alex Polyakov and Dr Genia Rozen of University of Melbourne.

Nowhere has the demand been more pronounced than Australia. Thirty-two-year-old management consultant Uma Patel told Financial Review, “When COVID struck I realized you can’t predict anything ... and this lets me have as many options on the table as possible.”

“The pandemic has focused people’s lives quite specifically on the role of family and of careers, and delays have occurred as part of this not only because of career progression but also personally as dating and socializing was replaced with Zoom,” said Queensland Fertility Group medical director Anusch Yazdani. “So people start to say, ‘We know that fertility decreases with time, we know that COVID has pushed this a year back, so what can I do to protect the resource of my eggs.’” Many of his clients freezing eggs are professionals, lawyers or medical specialists, he said.

Simone Campbell, a fertility specialist at Brisbane’s City Fertility Centre, reported a nearly 100 percent increase in egg freezing at her clinic in the past year, most commonly by women aged 30 to 35. Some are freezing their eggs to delay motherhood as they pursue careers, she said, but most are worried about meeting the right partner within the biological window during which they are fertile.

Postponing Motherhood with Egg Freezing

While egg freezing is increasingly used to allow women to postpone motherhood into their 40s, there are no guarantees of success.

Older women are both more likely to use the eggs they freeze and more likely to be able to afford the cost of the process—but their odds of success are significantly lower.

Eggs harvested from a 30-year-old woman and frozen have a 50 percent chance of successful fertilization, Financial Review reports. But the odds drop to just 2 percent when the eggs are harvested from women over age 40.

In addition to the donor’s age, the number of eggs harvested and preserved also impacts the odds of success: A 2016 study for The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) found that women who froze eggs at age 35 or younger had a 15 percent chance of live birth; for those who froze 10 eggs, the odds increased to 61 percent and to 85 percent for women who froze 15 or more eggs.

Women who freeze their eggs when they are in their 30s have significantly better odds of eventually conceiving than those who wait—but there’s also a higher chance they will never use the eggs they preserved.

That’s because there’s a greater chance that younger women, in ensuing years, will meet a partner and get pregnant the old-fashioned way. In those instances the frozen eggs may never be used.

Fewer than 20 per cent of women who freeze their eggs will use them in the future, according to the University of Melbourne report. “This is probably related to a multitude of factors including successful natural conception, remaining un-partnered or not wishing to use donor sperm,” they write.

While costs can be prohibitive—a single cycle in the U.S. typically costs $15,000 to $20,000, including medication, treatment and storage—fertility insurance coverage, including for fertility preservation, is mandated in a growing number of states, as we wrote. Some firms, particularly in the tech sector, are offering coverage for egg freezing as a way of recruiting and retaining women employees.

In addition to future fertility preservation, egg freezing also has improved the effectiveness of in vitro fertilization, or IVF: Outcome rates have improved with the use of cryopreserved oocytes, which has now become a standard best practice of fertility treatment.

For women who are considering freezing their eggs, it is essential to be fully informed of all potential medical risks and side effects and to have a clear understanding of the expected results. A properly drafted donor agreement stating the obligations, requirements and, most importantly, intentions of donor and recipient, also is essential to the recipient as the intended parent.

Egg freezing is not yet a guarantee of future fertility, but it is another powerful tool that is making parenthood a possibility for more people than ever before. For information about egg donation and egg donor agreements, contact IFLG’s team of experienced assisted reproductive services legal professionals.

Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Katie Deaquino
KATIE DEAQUINO
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Alexander Espinoza
ALEXANDER ESPINOZA
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Toni Hughes
TONI BOONE
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
MIESHA COWART
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.

KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien
MOLLY O'BRIEN
Partner

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler
PHOEBE S. SADLER
Associate

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan
RUBINA ASLANYAN
Paralegal

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Cara Stecker
CARA STECKER
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble
STEPHANIE KIMBLE
Paralegal

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
TRISH PITTMAN
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Elsa Jimenez
ELSA JIMENEZ
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.