Ask Swan: my partner wants me to freeze my eggs

Dear Swan,

I’ve been dating a guy for a few months and it’s all been great. But he says that if we stayed together, he’d want me to freeze my eggs as he’s not ready for kids yet.

He’s 31 and I’m 30. We both agree we’d like 3-4 children, but I want to start having them sooner rather than later. He wants to achieve a certain career milestone before he’s ready to think about a family, and by his own estimate that’s a couple of years away.

He points out that female fertility worsens with age, so we should make sure my eggs are in great condition to maximise our chance of having healthy children. I’m reluctant because I’ve read about what egg freezing involves and it sounds pretty horrible. Please advise!


Dear Grace,

It sounds like there’s an obvious incompatibility here: you’re ready to have children and your partner isn’t. Moreover, he’s made having children conditional on an external factor – his career progress. Even if he’s the best in the world at what he does, this is very risky: circumstances can always intervene to prevent him achieving his goal, and what happens to your family plans then? There might always be reasons that it’s not the right time. I’m inclined to think that if he really wanted a family, doing so would be his priority.

His request that you freeze your eggs, so you can operate on his schedule, is not a small demand. As you probably know, egg freezing isn’t cheap – when you include thawing and fertilisation, prices start at around £6000, not including long-term storage. The effect on your body is also dramatic. Hormone injections stimulate your ovaries to produce more and more eggs, which can be exhausting and physically painful. They’re then extracted through your vaginal wall under light sedation. Most people have to go through this process several times. Even if your boyfriend offers to cover all costs, including time off work (is he?) the process isn’t always easy.

If you were thinking about doing egg freezing anyway, and your partner were willing to support you physically, financially, and emotionally through the process, this would be a fantastic opportunity. But you’re not – you’re reluctant, and your boyfriend is applying at least a moderate degree of pressure for you to do it anyway. That’s a red flag.

Finally, there’s a lot of bad information out there about female fertility, so it may be worth taking a look at the facts. You’re only halfway through your best childbearing years, and having 3-4 healthy children is almost certainly achievable even if you don’t start straight away. Your partner should also be aware that whilst male fertility declines less steeply than female fertility, from about 35 men do begin to see lower sperm quality and higher rates of chromosomal abnormalities.

You haven’t been with your partner for very long. Consider your options carefully, but don’t plan the rest of your life around his desires whilst neglecting your own.

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