Career first, children later: Taiwan women put their eggs on ice

Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:22am EDT
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HSINCHU, Taiwan (Reuters) - Caught between traditional expectations and career pressures, working women in Taiwan are increasingly opting to freeze their eggs at fertility clinics as they postpone marriage and motherhood.

Women play a big part in Taiwan's workforce, trailing only New Zealand and Australia for female employment among 14 countries in Asia, a recent report by MasterCard showed.

A slowdown in the economy has made job security an even more pressing priority. That has been a factor in pushing the East Asian island's average marriage age to 30 these days, from 24 in the 1980s, and in driving the interest in egg freezing.

"I was not sure when my ovaries would start degenerating but I was sure that I would probably marry late and I was sure that I wanted to become a mother," said Linn Kuo, 34, who chose to freeze her eggs three years ago.

Kuo, a manager at Cisco System Taiwan Ltd, has a well-paid job that allows her to work from home. While her career has had a smooth trajectory, Kuo said she has not been as lucky in her love live.

After her mother died, she realized the importance of having the support of children in later life.

"I already had my conclusion," she said. "So I did some research and decided to freeze my eggs."

Lai Hsing-hua, the clinic director at e-Stork Reproduction Center in the city of Hsinchu, said he realized the need for egg-freezing services when many patients asked for egg donors after a late marriage.

"We thought if they had frozen their eggs earlier, maybe they wouldn't need to use donated eggs," he said. "That's why we combined in-vitro fertilization with the idea of prevention - prevent them from using others' eggs after their fertility has deteriorated."   Continued...

An employee demonstrates the process to extract eggs in a lab at the e-Stork Reproductive Center in Hsinchu, northern Taiwan, August 8, 2013. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang