Younger or particularly fertile patients sometimes can do a single round of egg retrieval to get the 15 to 20 eggs recommended for decent odds of pregnancy in the future. But many women opt to repeat the procedure multiple times, Grifo says, especially if they’re toward the end of their natural fertility and producing fewer viable eggs with each round.
Despite the costs and daunting odds, egg freezing’s popularity is expanding in the United States. Only 9,000 women nationwide froze their eggs in 2016, but according to Extend Fertility’s CEO, Anne Hogarty, her company alone did 1,000 egg-freeze cycles in 2018. Kindbody, which has only been open for a little more than six months, says it has already done 100. Trellis wouldn’t reveal its numbers so far, but the brand has been around since 2018, and it’s part of IntegraMed, which is the largest network of fertility clinics in the country.*
These new businesses’ Instagram- and Facebook-ad campaigns have put egg freezing on the radar of an untold number of women who likely wouldn’t have thought to visit a fertility doctor while young and single. For those potential patients, the message is one of familiar, friendly empowerment. These new clinics emphasize that they can give working women more time to focus on their nascent professional success. At the same time, research suggests that work isn’t why unmarried women consider their fertility options. Rather, it’s the limited availability of partners with whom they’d want to raise a family. That probably doesn’t make for much of an empowering Instagram caption.
“We’re trying to make what we’re doing into a lifestyle brand that’s more appealing to people, and not something that’s so foreign and sterile,” says Rebecca Silver, Kindbody’s director of marketing. “We don’t want to look or feel like a health-care company.” Extend Fertility and Trellis both told me that their target demographic begins at 27 years old, while Kindbody hopes to reach consumers as young as 25.
That desire to skip the traditional doctor’s-office feel is clear in both Kindbody’s country-crossing van and Trellis Health’s offices, which are appointed in an Instagram-friendly style that includes soft pinks, plants in minimalist pots, and encouraging words on the walls like It’s up to each of us to invent our own future and Invent your future. At its mobile events, Kindbody gives out T-shirts and branded S’well water bottles, in addition to controversial hormone tests, which some doctors fear could be used to stoke unnecessary anxieties in perfectly fertile young patients. (Kindbody says they provide the appropriate medical context to anyone who takes one of its tests.)
Kindbody, Trellis, and Extended Fertility offer regular informational sessions that bring in groups of prospective clients to learn about egg freezing, and they all told me their goal is simply to get the facts to young women who have been underserved by the industry in the past. But a 2017 study from the University of Minnesota Duluth found that marketing messages from egg-freezing companies were usually persuasive instead of neutrally informational, and that few provided detailed information on the process’s limitations or downsides. The three companies emphasized to me that egg freezing isn’t a guarantee of future pregnancy, but if you peruse any of their online egg-freezing FAQs, the numbers that Grifo gave me, which paint a more modest picture of the possibilities, are absent. They also don’t tell you that most of the people who freeze their eggs never thaw them.