Welcomed as liberation and dismissed as exploitation, egg freezing (oocyte cryopreservation) has rapidly become one of the most widely-discussed and influential new reproductive technologies of this century. In Freezing Fertility, Lucy van de Wiel takes us inside the world of fertility preservation—with its egg freezing parties, contested age limits, proactive anticipations and equity investments—and shows how the popularization of egg freezing has profound consequences for the way in which female fertility and reproductive aging are understood, commercialized and politicized.
Beyond an individual reproductive choice for people who may want to have children later in life, Freezing Fertility explores how the rise of egg freezing also reveals broader cultural, political and economic negotiations about reproductive politics, gender inequities, age normativities and the financialization of healthcare. Van de Wiel investigates these issues by analyzing a wide range of sources—varying from sparkly online platforms to heart-breaking court cases and intimate autobiographical accounts—that are emblematic of each stage of the egg freezing procedure. By following the egg’s journey, Freezing Fertility examines how contemporary egg freezing practices both reflect broader social, regulatory and economic power asymmetries and repoliticize fertility and aging in ways that affect the public at large. In doing so, the book explores how the possibility of egg freezing shifts our relation to the beginning and end of life.
Lucy van de Wiel is a Research Associate in the Reproductive Sociology Research Group (ReproSoc) at the Department of Sociology, University of Cambridge. She is also a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute in London.
A timely and powerful book … a jam-packed guide to the politics of reproductive ageing in a world of rapid social and technological change … will be of interest to a wide audience, from general readership to students, policymakers and social scientists working on reproduction and family politics.
Lucy van de Wiel’s Freezing Fertility brilliantly investigates fertile embodiment through a transnational exploration of human fertility preservation practices. Egg freezing, a recent biotechnological innovation, enhances corporeal capacities and transforms the temporality of everyday life. Her germinal analysis offers powerful interpretations of emerging cultural anxieties when we interrupt the imperative of ‘a biological clock’.
~Lisa Jean Moore, author of Catch and Release: The Enduring Yet Vulnerable Horseshoe Crab
In this beautifully-written and thought-provoking book, Lucy van de Wiel follows the egg from ovary to freezer and beyond. Grappling with the social, ethical, and economic complexities of egg freezing, she offers a vital contribution to debates about gender, reproduction, and aging.
~Rene Almeling, author of Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm
This volume is a brilliant foray into the contested world of egg freezing, taking readers on a journey with the human egg from its in vivo existence in ovaries and wombs to ex vivo sites of cryostorage, finance, and experimentation. Offering the single best analysis of the precarious relationship between fertility, reproductive technology, and women’s aging, Freezing Fertility is a must-read for gender, STS, and cultural studies scholars, as well as anyone interested in the future of assisted reproduction.
~Marcia C. Inhorn, author of Cosmopolitan Conceptions: IVF Sojourns in Global Dubai
an important contribution to medical anthropology and feminist technoscience and will be an excellent addition to the academic literature on this recently expanding practice, allowing us to prepare for what might come. The book is beautifully written, the main arguments are carefully elaborated and thought-provoking, and the key message is unsettling.
~Medical Anthropology Quarterly
Lucy van de Wiel’s Freezing Fertility is a beautifully written exploration of the cultural discourse of frozen eggs and their related technologies.
~Lauren Jade Martin of Penn State University, Berks, American Journal of Sociology
Interview with The Slow Newscast
The fertility industry is booming, but there is a tightrope to walk between what is possible, ethical and harmful. Reporter Claudia Williams and host Basia Cummings investigate the rise and rise of IVF.
Global Health Global Beats (03/04/2021)
Interview by Sonia Adesara, with Annabella Sowemimo
New Books Podcast Network
Interview by Ann Choi
Getting pregnant after 35: US research says reproductive years now extend to 37
So is the age of 35 really a #fertility cliff? New American research is saying no. Annette Young talks to Cambridge University researcher and author, Dr Lucy van de Wiel, on what this means and also how egg-freezing is becoming a growth industry. We also look at how French women who are not in a relationship with a man, are forced to seek IVF treatment outside of the country. Plus an exhibition at the Paris Pompidou Centre celebrates women artists in the abstract art movement.