Aug 28, 2013

    More Taiwan women opting to freeze eggs

    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 territories 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 Taiwan'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 that I wanted to become a mother," said Ms Linn Kuo, 34, who chose to freeze her eggs three years ago.

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

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

    She said: "I did some research and decided to freeze my eggs."

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

    He said: "We thought that if they had frozen their eggs earlier, maybe they wouldn't need to use donated eggs.

    "That's why we combined in-vitro fertilisation with the idea of prevention - preventing women from using others' eggs after their fertility has deteriorated."

    The clinic now gets more than 100 phone calls a month asking about egg freezing.

    Dr Chen Fen-ling, a professor of social work at National Taipei University, said societal pressures were causing women to delay marrying and starting a family.

    She said: "Married women are like candles burning at both ends. Women work two jobs - they make money with a daytime job but, when they go home, they take care of their children and parents-in-law.

    "This pressure often makes women hesitate when making the decision about marriage."

    Taiwan is tied with Hong Kong in third-last place globally in terms of the average number of children born per woman, just above Macau and Singapore, according to the CIA World Factbook.