Genetic Crossroads

The intersection of biotechnology, reproduction and society

Sofia Vergara Freezing Her (Perfect, Perfect, Perfect) Eggs

Is social egg freezing the answer to a woman's ticking biological clock?

Yes, the stars are doing it! 40-year-old Sofia Vergara revealed in the April issue of Vogue that she has to watch what she eats because she’s seeing a fertility specialist and taking pills and hormone injections to prepare for egg retrieval, in order to freeze them for use at a later date.

The Modern Family star explains:

They want to get as many eggs as they can because usually you produce them but they're not good. They have to be perfect, perfect perfect ones. My boyfriend [Nick Loeb] is 37, younger than me, never had kids.

Vergara isn’t the only celebrity embarking on “social egg freezing,” which is now being promoted as a way for women to pursue a career and delay childbearing until a more convenient time. Kim Kardashian (32) and Coco Austin (33), wife of rapper Ice-T, have also gone through the procedure, and talked about it publicly.

What’s next? I can imagine an egg-freezing reality TV show, with 24-hour-a-day cameras chronicling women injecting themselves with hormones, detailing every emotional reaction and trip to the clinic. The climax: an announcement of who produced the most “perfect” eggs.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

But egg extraction isn’t really a laughing matter. The hormones that “shut down” the ovaries can cause long-term debilitating symptoms. The hormones used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs can also have serious side effects, though they are fortunately rare; several women have died from complications of ovarian hyper-stimulation. The egg extraction procedure itself, in which a needle is inserted into a woman’s reproductive organs to suck out eggs, can also be risky and can lead to scarring and ovarian damage.

When women are facing medical procedures that can cause infertility, such as chemotherapy for cancer treatment, they may find these risks worthwhile. Extracting and freezing eggs for social reasons – so that a woman could pursue her career or wait for "Mr. Right" to come along before defrosting – raises a different set of ethical considerations. In short, social egg freezing is nothing to be taken lightly.

In other “egg-related news,” scientists say they are developing the capability to turn human eggs into powdered form, skipping the inconvenience and cost of storing them in expensive cryo-preservation facilities. A woman could conveniently store her egg sachet in her lingerie drawer, or in her kitchen cabinet next to her cinnamon and other spices. Simply add water, sperm, find the turkey baster in the kitchen drawer, and voila. Ahhh…the modern conveniences of reproduction without all the mess and fuss! Just be careful which spice you reach for when cooking up that romantic breakfast for two.

 

 

Diane Tober, Ph.D., is Associate Executive Director at the Center for Genetics and Society.

more...

Subscribe to Genetic Crossroads

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?