Gen Z girlies are rushing to freeze their eggs: Everything you need to know about the new trend

By Abby Amoakuh

Published Oct 22, 2023 at 09:03 AM

Reading time: 5 minutes

From girl maths and girl dinner to the girlfriend effect—we all know that gen Z girlies love a good trend. Once a good idea has been formed, it doesn’t take long for netizens to hop on the bandwagon and showcase their versions of it on social media. But what about egg freezing? The hashtag currently has over 91.0 million views on TikTok and a lot of those views seem to be attributed to gen Zers.

Confused as to how fertility suddenly became a top gen Z concern? Me too, to be honest. With so many immediate things to worry about such as work, the rental crisis, and the ever-present threat of an impending climate catastrophe, my fertility doesn’t really make the list. So let’s delve into this strange, new trend together, shall we?

In August 2023, fertility benefits company Apryl conducted a survey which revealed that 48 per cent of young people aged 16 to 24 are worried about their future fertility. Around 17 per cent of gen Zers said they were “very worried” about fertility, while nearly 31 per cent responded that they were “somewhat worried” about being able to conceive.

The survey came on the heels of data by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, which documented a sharp rise in the number of people seeking fertility treatments like egg freezing since the COVID-19 pandemic. What was especially surprising was a stark increase in the number of women in their 20s freezing their eggs. In fact, it seems like egg freezing has become the UK’s fastest-growing fertility treatment.

The emergence of this intriguing new trend finds some of its roots on TikTok. For this reason, SCREENSHOT spoke with Nathaly Sanguino, a 25-year-old content creator based in New York City. Sanguino recently posted a video where she shared that she was considering freezing her eggs.

@nathalysanguino

Reproductive literacy needs to be democratized and financial access made more equitable ♥️ I learned so much just going to get checked. Ultimately, this is about taking control of my reproductive future now so I don’t have to stress about it later. Arm yourself with knowledge 🤓 #wellness #femalehealth #fertility #eggfreezing #womenshealth

♬ Ruby Sparks - Monét Ngo

“After getting off birth control in my early 20s, I embarked on a journey to explore and appreciate my reproductive system,” she explained in a conversation with SCREENSHOT. “Egg freezing is one of those options that can provide a sense of security and flexibility down the road.

“I decided to go through the consultation and testing to see if egg freezing would be right for me. To my surprise, I was told I was the youngest patient in the clinic who came in. I knew then that this was something more young women should know about,” Sanguino stated.

“I believe in women taking charge of their health and future by understanding their options and making choices that resonate with them. It’s about embracing the idea that our bodies are on our side, and the more we know, the more we can take control of our destinies.”

Consequently, egg freezing isn’t exclusively about anxiety for young women. It is also about empowerment and taking control of their reproductive futures.

Jessica Choi, a 27-year-old California-based industrial designer known as @surgarplumgorth on TikTok, seems to share a similar mindset. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m dramatic or because it’s Aries season and I’m an Aries rising, but I have decided to freeze my eggs,” she stated in a video posted in March.

@sugarplumgoth

Replying to @vintagevandal yeah so im freezing my eggs #ariesseason #hotgirlshit #4thegirls #slay

♬ america has a problem - NHLZS™

“It’s not looking great out there,” she admitted. “I don’t want to settle. I want to raise my bar even higher. I don’t want to worry about my biological clock. So I am on day four of actual fertility medications. I’ve been injecting myself for 4 days,” she said, showing her injections to the camera.

“I am still in my 20s but I kind of wanted to do it while I have the chance,” Choi continued. “One day, I can have kids on my own terms.”

@sugarplumgoth

egg freezing slay 🥚🧊🎀 #grwm #eggfreezing #20somethings #dontbescared#luckiestgirlintheworld #girlythings #ootd #fitcheck #Inverted

♬ Lucky Girl - Carlina

“That’s amazing and so smart! Don’t settle! You are beautiful, queen! You deserve a man of quality,” one commenter stated. And to be honest, I couldn’t agree more.

Egg freezing suddenly seemed to be about independence, self-determination and taking back power. It’s a big ‘f*ck you’ to the patriarchy that tries to make women feel like they have a shelf life. I mean, isn’t that all the ‘biological clock’ is? A mostly invented metaphor about ageing bodies that makes us feel like our reproductive systems are working against us? So, if you can shatter this metaphor and the pressure associated with it, why wouldn’t you?

But then I started to realise that I was buying into the glamour and marketing of it all.

Choi explained in her video that she was able to afford the procedure because her company, Google, paid for it. Nevertheless, this is not a benefit many gen Zers can rely on. Sanguino, for instance, who owns her own company, decided not to go through with the procedure because she wasn’t in a place where she could financially afford it.

“With the start of a new company, I chose to prioritise my resources there, however, I do want to seriously consider the process in the next year. Overall, going through the discovery phase taught me how much work needs to be done to make this option more financially viable for other women,” the content creator noted.

The average cost of having your eggs collected and frozen in the UK lies at £3,350, with medication being an added £500 to £1,500. Lastly, storage costs are an extra £125 to £350 per year. Consequently, it is a form of ‘empowerment’ that not every young person can afford.

And then there is obviously the success rate… Of six eggs, the chances of a live birth are somewhere between 32 per cent and 18 per cent depending on the age of the woman at the time she freezes her eggs. Thus, the chance of having a baby later on in life isn’t as promising as marketing is making it out to be.

In July, VICE also reported on the risks of freezing eggs in one’s early 20s. The hormonal injections can lead to overstimulation of the ovaries, for instance, also known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which occurs in 5 per cent of IVF and egg-freezing cycles. As a result, getting more eggs can put those who are younger at a higher risk of some of the complications of the procedure.

The procedure also carries mental health risks, due to the hormonal injections that can lead to mood swings, especially for hormonal young adults.

And while the idea of putting your babies on ice for future use might seem appealing, the prospect of getting them surgically removed after multiple weeks of hormone injections might not, especially considering that the success rate is relatively slim.

So what is egg freezing? A chance to take control of your future by delaying some of the important decisions, like starting a family, or an unnecessary and expensive medical procedure that some good marketing executive slapped a feminist slogan on?

It’s a bit of both, I suppose. Egg freezing allows us to preserve a potential future, especially when we are facing challenges that might put it at risk. Cancer patients, for example, frequently choose egg freezing because chemotherapy can damage fertility.

@jessica..brock

first fertility treatmet ✅ #cancer #cancerawareness #cancerinyour20s #digitaldiary #vlog #minivlog #fertility #fertilitytreatment #ivf #ivfjourney

♬ original sound - jessica brock

Nevertheless, we also live in a capitalist society where industries always find a way to exploit our anxieties for profit. That includes getting pregnant and starting a family because it’s something a lot of women feel anxious about, my 23-year-old self included.

@gal_talk_

Celebs and the media make egg freezing appear “normal” and somewhat of a choice. The reality is this unregulated treatment is for the privileged few and fertility clinics know this. There are currently no laws safeguarding women against financial, physical and emotional drain. It’s time the world catches up #womenshealth #womenshealthmatters #learnwithtiktok #tiktokscientist #reproduction #journalism #fertility

♬ Miss You - Oliver Tree & Robin Schulz

I guess, the thing that makes this trend so concerning is the lack of education and transparency surrounding it. For this reason, the UK’s fertility regulator has called for an urgent update to the law around egg freezing, as clinics are reportedly adopting “aggressive” marketing tactics and knowingly heaping on extra costs without taking care of their patients’ physical and mental wellbeing.

If you are anything like me, you are probably feeling very conflicted about egg freezing now. After all, it is a relatively new technology that sells us something very different to what it can actually provide: time and certainty.

However, knowing the cost, chances and risks, it is definitely an option worth taking for some gen Zers who want a little more security when it comes to their futures.

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