A few years ago, there was a big push for older, never-married women to freeze their eggs. Everywhere I went people were talking about it. My parents were against it, but since my friends were doing it, I decided to go ahead and do the procedure, though I never told my parents. It was not as easy as everyone made it seem. I had horrible pain and lots of bleeding, too. No one warned me about that! Everyone told me that it’s no big deal.
The people who pushed for it, including my rabbi, said that it will help me get a shidduch, because men are obligated to have children, and by telling a date that I froze my eggs, he will know that he has nothing to worry about in that regard.
But guess what I found out? Frum guys are turned off by that! When I told one guy on a date what I did, he told me that it makes him want to throw up thinking about it. I asked him why (I thought it was because I told him while he was eating), and he said it makes him feel that the woman is too old to have children the natural way. He didn’t want to go out with me again after that.
I spoke to some of my friends who froze their eggs and they told me that it never helped them get a shidduch! Not only that, but I heard of married women who said it didn’t work for them when they tried to have it implanted.
Now I’m mad as hell that I let myself be talked into this gimmick, and I need advice going forward. I want to get married, but the men I meet or get introduced to are not serious about getting married. They say that they are, but really they just want to have a relationship with a woman.
The man who is not serious about marriage is the same man who will say he is turned off by a woman who had her eggs frozen. With such a man, no matter what you do or don’t do, you will be damned in his book.
Since you wrote your letter to receive my response published in a public forum, I need to educate readers who don’t understand the process of egg freezing. Women have been taught that they are born with the amount of egg cells in their ovaries that they will have in their lifetime. And because eggs deteriorate with age, the fertility of a woman is affected as women get older, although there are various methods to induce pregnancy even in older women.
In recent years, women (although not always frum women) have been putting off starting a family, either to build their careers or feel more secure in their marriage. As a result, complaints about infertility have been on the rise, and so doctors began offering women who are still in their childbearing years to freeze their eggs until they are ready to have a child.
As you surely know firsthand, the frum world is filled with never-married women or divorced women who never had children. For various reasons, the crisis of fewer marriages is on the rise, and just like with other things in life, “supply creates its own demand.” The solution to the problem, in consult with rabbanim, was to introduce the concept of egg freezing to the frum world. To the surprise of many, it took off.
Women who never had the opportunity to try to have children were rushing to get the procedure done, and encouraged their friends to do it, too. The frum people in that profession launched the initiative and began publishing literature with the haskamah of rabbanim. Ultimately, it became an accepted practice in most frum circles. I am sure that there are people who can say that they are happy to have had the procedure, and as a result were able to eventually give birth to healthy children.
So, yes, you are definitely correct in saying that there has been a push for unmarried women who have never had children to freeze their eggs. I believe that the reason rabbanim became involved is because they were witnessing the number of unmarried women getting older and they were listening to them say that they gave up all hope of finding a husband. They also feared that when these women would get married, it might be too late for them to start a family. Knowing that men want to have children, as it is their halachic obligation, and based on the medical information they were given, egg-freezing seemed like a win-win all around. From their perspective, it made sense. A woman will freeze her eggs while she still can and implant them when she is married and ready to start a family. What the rabbanim could not predict is the future outcome, or how some men might react when they date a woman who had her eggs frozen.
I cannot comment on the gimmick aspect of it, only to say that shadchanim were encouraged to introduce the concept to the singles they work with. I will share with you that there was a time at my singles events that people would, without permission, try to drop pamphlets encouraging egg freezing. I always found that to be distasteful, because the objective of a singles event is for the singles to meet one another as the only option at that specific time! The practice of encouraging the procedure became so widespread that I started seeing pamphlets handed out at various other venues, too.
Women who choose to go ahead with the procedure are most likely not provided with enough information, as in your case. They are being told that it will help them with a shidduch and that rabbanim approve of egg freezing. For some, that is enough of a reason to do it. However, they may find out afterwards that the age at which they were encouraged to freeze their eggs might have already been a bit too late (although younger women would never even consider it), and thus the risk for failure is that much higher when they are ready to implant the eggs at a future date. The bottom line is that it may not work for everyone.
I find it incredibly disturbing that you were not informed about the health risks involved when retrieving your eggs for freezing. It is a medical procedure, after all! Usually patients are injected with hormones to increase the number of eggs that will grow in their ovaries at one time, and then receive another hormone to induce ovulation. That usually comes with side effects. And yes, bleeding is possible, as the physician uses an aspirating needle to retrieve the eggs. So, the symptoms that you experienced are not uncommon. I imagine you must have signed a waiver or release form prior to the procedure.
I hope you have recovered from the procedure, and, with Hashem’s help, it will be successful when you are ready for the eggs to be implanted. However, unfortunately, you feel that you are back to square one, where not only are you still meeting men who are not serious about marriage, but they are turned off by the mere fact of what you did to increase your chances to have children one day.
You are most likely dating men who are around middle-age, and, yes, there are many (as told to me by women) who are not serious about marriage. When you say that they want relationships, that is probably true. Human beings crave relationships with other human beings, and that is why people seek friendships. Moreover, most people need an emotional connection to somebody, and so they form relationships with the opposite gender.
The problem arises when one party wants more from that relationship than the other is ready to give. And since in many cases it is the woman in this age bracket who wants to get married as soon as possible, and the man oftentimes does not, the man comes across as not being serious about marriage. Why that happens can stem from different reasons.
Those men who have been single for many years — either because they never got married or have been divorced for a long time — have become accustomed to that lifestyle and are not looking to change it up for anyone else, regardless of how wonderful the woman might be. Others are gun-shy, having come out of a bad marriage and divorce, and are afraid to trust another woman. There are still others who are concerned about having to support a new family while they are paying alimony and child support.
The point is, as challenging as it is for young singles, it is even more difficult for those who are older. Those who have a reputation for seeking relationships without marriage have worked long and hard to achieve such a name for themselves. My advice is that you try to find out the dating history of the man way before you fall into a nonviable relationship. Additionally, you might want to start looking into the possibility of dating a man you previously may not have considered. When you meet the man who will eventually become your husband, he will embrace your choice of freezing your eggs to secure the opportunity of having his child and creating a family and life together.
Baila Sebrow is president of Neshoma Advocates, communications and recruitment liaison for Sovri-Beth Israel, executive director of Teach Our Children, and a shadchanis and shidduch consultant. She can be reached at Bsebrow@aol.com. Questions and comments for the Dating Forum can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.