Egg Freezing at the End of Romance: A Technology of Hope, Despair, and Repair

Marcia C. Inhorn, Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Ruoxi Yu, Pasquale Patrizio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The newest innovation in assisted reproduction is oocyte cryopreservation, more commonly known as egg freezing, which has been developed as a method of fertility preservation. Studies emerging from around the world show that highly educated professional women are turning to egg freezing in their late thirties to early forties, because they are still searching for a male partner with whom to have children. For these women, egg freezing may be a new “hope technology” for future romance; but it may also be a “technology of despair,” as women navigate the ends of a failing relationship. Based on the largest ethnographic study to date, undertaken with 150 women who froze their eggs for nonmedical reasons in the United States and Israel, we examine egg freezing at the end of romance. Relationship dissolution—involving divorce, separation, broken engagements, and relationship breakups from men who are unfaithful, controlling, rejecting, uncommitted, or unready for fatherhood—is one of the major pathways to egg freezing. When such relationship dissolution ruptures a woman’s reproductive life course, egg freezing may become a “technology of repair,” allowing women to find new strengths and opportunities as well as new visions for the future.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)53-84
Number of pages32
JournalScience Technology and Human Values
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2022


  • assisted reproduction
  • divorce
  • egg freezing
  • men as partners
  • oocyte cryopreservation
  • relationships

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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