Deciding whether to have a child is a complicated, expensive, emotionally fraught journey — especially if you’re also trying to work on things like your career, retirement planning, existing child care … the list goes on. So it’s no surprise that egg freezing has “ballooned in popularity” over the past decade, with more and more people deciding to preserve their opportunity to have a baby while they focus on — as Ellevest Financial Advisor Cam Rogers puts it — becoming, “personally and professionally, [their] best self yet.”
Cam recently appeared on fertility and family planning podcast Stork’d to talk about her experience, both in freezing her own eggs and in helping women achieve financial goals like egg-freezing. Here’s a quick breakdown of the key takeaways. (You can also listen to the episode itself here.)
The decisions to freeze your eggs is different for everyone
“I know I’m a 34-year-old, single, cisgender, straight white woman living in New York City,” Cam says. “That’s only a small sliver of experiences. Everyone will come to the table with different backgrounds, different stories.”
Just like any family planning option, there are plenty of different reasons someone might want to freeze their eggs:
You may want to ensure your career plans won’t get in the way of your desire to start a family.
You may want to date more openly, without having to worry about whether the other person will make a good parent.
You may have just gotten a medical diagnosis that could impact your fertility in the future.
You may just want to give yourself time to decide whether you even want kids.
“My decision was very much born during the pandemic,” says Cam. “[Before,] my response was like, ‘Ah, I’ll do it down the road, but I'm not there.’ Then during the pandemic, we all saw the upending of things, processes, institutions. I observed people making decisions … that might've otherwise been considered totally unconventional. [I realized] that when we're making decisions with this silent, overpowering buzzer in the background, we think differently. We act differently. [And] I personally didn't want to be in that mindset now, [when I’m] both personally and professionally my best self yet.”
Egg-freezing is an investment — do your research first
In a perfect world, fertility treatments — including procedures like egg freezing — would be covered by your average health insurance plan, not just those offered by the richest employers in the market. It wouldn’t be considered an elective service (yup, like plastic surgery), and more people would be able to plan for it, in the same way we plan for retirement — aka like the future life phase it is. In the real world, it’s “only serving a small community,” one that can pay the major out-of-pocket costs associated with an elective procedure.
But just because it’s a big-ticket item doesn’t mean it’s unattainable. Part of the problem, Cam says, is that it’s not conceptualized like retirement savings or a down payment, so people don’t start saving early. It’s for the same reason that many don't know you can start a 529 for an unborn child: If you’re in your 20s, your friends probably aren’t actively planning to freeze their eggs, either.
Also? Egg freezing is … $$$$. And unlike retirement — where you start spending that money decades after you started saving — you may end up having to pay for a lot of it upfront. So doing your research ahead of time will be key — including making sure it’s a viable option for you, medically — to ensure it’s something you really want to invest in.
Here are some basic costs you’ll need to factor in:
Multiple consultations with different clinics: roughly $500 each
Lab costs (stimulation, monitoring, egg retrieval): $10,000
Additional medication: $4,000-5,000
Egg storage: $1,000/year
That doesn’t even take into account another very real cost: time. The clinic appointments (which may increase in frequency as you get closer to the retrieval), the time off work (or off caregiving duty) for the recovery period. (To say nothing of the physical toll of hormones and the procedure(s) itself!)
And most importantly, remember that success with fertility treatments of any kind aren’t guaranteed. While egg-freezing has been found to be more successful than other routes, there are still plenty of unknowns, even after you’ve paid for the process, such as:
How your body will react to the treatment
How the eggs will thaw once you’re ready to start trying
Where the other half of the DNA (read: sperm) will come from
Whether the eggs will implant
Whether surrogacy will be an option
Whether it’ll result in you having a child at all!
That’s why it’s best to see this less as insurance, and more like buying an option (basically reserving the ability to try something later). As Cam explains: “There are no guarantees, there are no payouts, but you have increased that time and runway. You're spending all this money and cost physically, emotionally, psychologically, financially for the preservation of a dream.”
Save for egg freezing like you would a down payment (or not!)
So how do you afford something as costly as egg freezing if you don’t have gobs of cash lying around? You could go one of two ways:
Start saving early, and save (or invest) consistently. Figure out what you can afford to save each month (or each paycheck, etc), and put that away — if you plan on doing it in the next two years, put it in an FDIC- or NCUA-insured savings account (preferably where you can’t see it and be tempted to spend it). If it’s further out, consider investing toward the goal. (If you’re not sure how to fit the cost in among your existing savings/investing goals, we have a guide for that.)
Look into financing / payment plans. Many fertility clinics offer this payment option, and it can be a good route if you’re looking to start ASAP and don’t have much saved.
Either way, you’ll probably be making monthly payments — be it to the clinic or to your own banking account — so compare the costs and savings of both before you decide on which route you’ll take. Ask the clinic for help with estimates; even if you have some saved, like Cam did, it might make more financial sense to let that money accrue interest in your account and opt for a low- or no-interest payment plan.
Find your community
Beyond cost, there’s one more key element in this decision: having a pod of friends and loved ones who can support you through what can often feel like an isolating process. Talk to others who have done it, whether people you know or communities online, and ask for what you need, be it insight, tips, or just moral support.
“I found the community element actually really striking,” Cam says. She recalls being nervous about her first round of hormones: “One of my girlfriends kindly offered to come over to my apartment [to] show [me] what to do. We're following a YouTube video, but there was one question we had [about] some part of the process. So we ended up FaceTiming [another] friend in. And it was this comedic moment of community in the middle of something that's so deeply personal. [It felt like] that moment when we were nine or ten [when] all of the parents came together and decided to gift [us] The Body Book at the same time. It felt like that same kind of community, like we were going through this together.”