Although she has been dating for well over a decade, Chani (not her real name) is optimistic about her future. Personable, poised, and pretty, the 34-year-old Manhattan resident began dating at the age of 19, several months after returning from a year of study in Israel. Within the ensuing months, Chani became caught up in the whirlwind of weddings as her closely-knit circle of friends began to find their basherts.
All too quickly, the years passed by. Chani graduated from college and graduate school and is presently at the pinnacle of her career. Many of her friends are single women in their early to mid-thirties, successful in their respective fields, and sharing the ultimate goal of raising Jewish families.
It was on her 34th birthday that one of her closest friends shared her own experience with Chani about securing her future.
“She asked me if I had considered fertility preservation and told me that she had her eggs frozen at Extend Fertility, describing how positive her experience had been. I’d heard of the procedure before. Many of my friends have been discussing this option, which, thanks to medical advances, has a very high success rate. I was very interested in exploring this option, but was concerned about the emotional, physical, and financial aspect. Would my having the procedure be construed as a lack of emunah? I spoke to my rav, an esteemed posek who told me to go ahead with the procedure, that doing so is my hishtadlus.
“I did my due diligence and researched egg freezing and Extend Fertility. In addition to my good friend who had shared her own experience at Extend Fertility, I spoke to several other frum women who shared her enthusiasm and had similar experiences. I met with Dr. Klein at the complimentary consultation and observed their cutting-edge technology and met their award-winning doctors, including Dr. Klein himself, who is a shomer Torah u’mitzvos and is recommended by many rabbanim.”
She adds, “Having my eggs frozen at Extend Fertility was a life-altering experience for me. My emunah is unwavering; I am fully confident of achieving my dream of being a wife and mother. But I realize the clock is ticking and my chances of conceiving diminish as I get older. Extend Fertility is helping our community build batei ne’eman b’Yisrael.”
Elective egg freezing is a procedure that has been steadily growing for the last decade. According to the most recent data from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, more than 7,000 women had their eggs frozen in 2017, up from 475 women in 2009. That number is expected to rise, as more companies, like Apple and Facebook, provide coverage for the process.
“Egg freezing allows women to preserve their own eggs, frozen when they are young and healthy, to help them achieve pregnancy later,” said Dr. Joshua U. Klein, co-founder and chief clinical officer of Extend Fertility, the premier egg freezing clinic located in the heart of New York City.
Recognizing the need in the fertility industry, Dr. Klein sought a viable solution to make the process more accessible and more realistic for what “normal women of normal means” could consider. Sympathetic to the uncomfortable millennials he saw in fertility center waiting rooms, Dr. Klein recalls “the awkward fit — this young woman in the corner, doesn’t have a partner, is totally healthy — she just wants to do this as a proactive health and wellness choice to preserve her options for the future.” Spurred to action, Dr. Klein, a renowned IVF and fertility specialist, opened a clinic that gives women the same customized attention as those attempting to become pregnant immediately.
Because egg health is directly correlated to age, in order for egg freezing to be most effective, it has to be affordable for younger women.
The premise behind fertility preservation is the disconcerting fact that a woman’s reproductive ability decreases significantly as she ages. From the time she is born, her biological clock begins ticking. A female baby is born with two million eggs—her lifetime supply. By the time she reaches puberty, the amount will decrease to about one million. At age 25, it’s down to 300,000. Beginning at age 35, the rate of follicle loss increases rapidly; more significantly, the quality of her eggs decreases substantially, thereby diminishing the egg’s chance of becoming fertilized. And even if fertilization does occur, there is a heightened risk of genetic or other disorders. Indeed, decreasing egg quality is key to the drastic reduction in fertility as a woman ages.
“There’s a narrative in the media that women who freeze their eggs are selfishly focused on their careers, says Dr. Klein. “But really, the vast majority of them are single women who haven’t found their partners yet and feel their clock ticking. Preserving their fertility takes away the panic in the dating scene.”
The majority of Dr. Klein’s patients are in their thirties with an average age of 36. As a strong advocate of the procedure, he calls it an insurance policy. Still, he says, there is no guarantee of success and he advises every woman to make her own informed decision and individual cost-benefit analysis. In keeping with Extend Fertility’s premise of transparency and unparalleled client service, Dr. Klein always presents the statistics to his patients at the initial consultation.
“Women who are 42 and 44 will come to me, asking to freeze their eggs. It’s a tough conversation. On the one hand, she sees this as her last hope; how can I take that away from her? On the other hand, ethically, how can I let her spend thousands of dollars on something that has a low chance of success? The best thing I can do is to give her my informed opinion.”
Extend Fertility was founded on the premise that democratizing egg freezing could ultimately change the fertility industry and deliver better results. Prior to co-founding Extend Fertility, Dr. Joshua Klein was a reproductive endocrinologist and fertility specialist at one of the nation’s leading fertility practices. Upon observing IVF’s low success rate for women over 40 and its high cost for both doctors and patients, he saw the opportunity to help women have a more proactive approach regarding their fertility. He believed that if more women could access their younger eggs during the IVF process, they would see successful outcomes.
Since its founding, Extend Fertility has helped thousands of patients on their fertility journey through egg freezing and IVF, empowering them, with Hashem’s help, to navigate their fertility future rather than allowing time to dictate the path. Extend Fertility began offering egg freezing at 40% below the national average cost. By 2017, they were the largest egg freezing practice in the nation. Since then, they have expanded to offer a full range of infertility services, including IVF, in a small-practice environment that is more personal, of higher quality, and data driven. Their team of experienced doctors and a cutting-edge lab provide patients with superior results.
They believe that no one should fear what they don’t know about their own fertility, and share a passion for delivering fertility in a caring and more transparent way.
Dr. Klein also feels fortunate to have recruited Dr. Bat-Sheva Maslow, one of the rising stars in the field of fertility and a frum woman, to work alongside him at Extend Fertility.
Dr. Maslow is director of research at Extend Fertility and a highly accomplished reproductive endocrinologist. After attending Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, she went on to complete her OB/GYN residency at the University of Pennsylvania and her subspecialty in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the University of Connecticut. Along the way, she completed the clinical and translational research master’s program at UConn, which focuses on clinical research methods and the way that we communicate about the results of that research to the greater public.
For the past few years, Dr. Maslow has been working as a physician and a researcher in the field of women’s health and fertility. Additionally, she writes and lectures on topics at the intersection of reproductive medicine and halachah. To that end, she serves as the curriculum director for Nishmat’s North American Yoetzet Halacha fellowship, a program that trains female religious scholars to address questions of halachah regarding women’s health. In addition to educating the fellows on topics pertaining to women’s health so that they can become more effective Jewish advisers, she also functions as a liaison between religious leadership and medical professionals.
Passionate about helping her patients, she views her profession as a labor of love.
“I love being able to use my position to educate and spread awareness about fertility,” she shares. I love giving women the power and control to know more about their biology, so it isn’t some locked secret that they can’t access. I love being on the forefront of researching fertility and how women interact with their fertility.”
Since its inception, Extend Fertility has impacted the lives of thousands of young women, helping them perform their hishtadlus in building a future bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael. An exemplary ben Torah and world-renowned fertility authority, Dr. Klein’s fertility center has become the industry’s gold standard. Consider the following testimonials from patients who have experienced Extend Fertility’s signature service.
“Working with Extend Fertility to complete an egg-freezing cycle was a very positive and productive experience for me,” shared J.M. “Dr. Klein met with me for the consultation and I was impressed by how much time he spent with me, going through the details of the process and answering all my questions. I highly recommend Extend Fertility if you are considering egg freezing as an option.”
For S.B., making the trip to New York from out-of-state was well worth her invested time and effort. “I had the best experience from start to finish,” she explained. “Everyone was so kind, professional, friendly, knowledgeable, and respectful. They made the entire process extremely easy,” says S., a litigation attorney who recently celebrated her 32nd birthday. “Having children and raising a family is what I see in my future and by egg freezing, I feel I’m doing my hishtadlus to make it a reality.”
Prior to choosing Extend Fertility, S. conducted extensive research and opines that the facility “exceeds all expectations in regards to what one should be looking for when seeking the right fertility clinic. All of the doctors, nurses, and advisers were so transparent, kind, and attentive, and made the process as easy as it could have possibly been. Everyone I worked with, from the first consultation to the retrieval date, provided incredible service. The facility is clean and aesthetically pleasing, which also adds to the ease and comfort of the process. I have already recommended Extend Fertility to friends who have asked me about my experience, and will continue to do so and share my positive experience with others. I want to sincerely thank everyone at Extend Fertility for providing me with such excellent care and service!”
For A., a 34-year-old pediatrician, the decision to reach out to Extend Fertility and schedule a consultation was the result of her close friend’s recommendation and encouragement.
“As frum, single girls in our thirties, with hope and determination to each get married and raise beautiful families, we’d given much thought to this option and discussed it with our parents and rabbanim. My friend had heard wonderful recommendations regarding Extend Fertility and had her eggs frozen at their facility. Throughout the entire process, she was so positive and enthusiastic—her high spirits were so infectious, I was inspired to experience the process as my ‘insurance policy’ to building a bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael.”
She added, “Freezing one’s eggs can be a physically challenging experience as well as an emotionally difficult journey. From the moment I stepped into the clinic, the Extend Fertility staff eased both of these experiences; from the doctors to the nurses to the support staff, the entire Extend Fertility family was patient and dedicated to me as an individual person and not as just another case walking through their door. They patiently explained each step of the process and made it as easy as possible. If you are looking to freeze your eggs, I would highly recommend attending one of their open house workshops and seeing for yourself. This is the place for such a procedure!”
Doctors in the United States who are familiar with halachah say they are seeing more Orthodox patients who have been sent by their rabbis to freeze their eggs before their fertility declines.
Reproductive technology has perfected freezing techniques that are approximately the same as using fresh eggs when in vitro fertilization methods are used. “Most rabbis are strongly recommending this for single women who don’t anticipate having a baby soon, as a form of hishtadlus.” Dr. Klein shared.
In Israel, the procedure is covered by the government. Some rabbis recommend every single woman over age 32 freeze her eggs as an insurance policy against infertility.
For 20 years, Rabbi Gideon Weitzman, director of the Puah Institute in Jerusalem, has been a major authority on infertility procedures performed in accordance with halachah.
“There is a very high interface through the millennia between Judaism and modern technology,” he said. “We’ve learned to go hand-in-hand with science.”
Rabbi Weitzman said freezing the eggs of single women is a real “boon” for Orthodox women who are taught at a young age that marriage and children are important. “We get calls on this question every single week, if not every single day,” he said.
If you are considering egg freezing as an option, call Extend Fertility for a complimentary consultation and discover why they are the choice of the Jewish community.
Rochelle Maruch Miller is a contributing editor for the Five Towns Jewish Times. She is a journalist, creative media consultant, lecturer, and educator, and writes for magazines, newspapers, websites, and private clients.