In the absence of a stable partner in their lives, more and more women are opting to have their eggs frozen and put motherhood on hold until they find Mr Right.

This is according to new research conducted by Yale University anthropologist Dr Marcia Inhorn among 150 women in the USA and Israel who had undergone at least one cycle of elective egg freezing.

Some 85% of the women reviewed weren’t in a relationship at the time of freezing their eggs.

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“The medical literature and media coverage of oocyte cryopreservation (egg freezing) usually suggest that elective egg-freezing is being used to defer or delay childbearing among women pursuing education and careers. Our study, however, suggests that the lack of a stable partner is the primary motivation,” Inhorn says.

For the 15% of women who had partners, the main reason they were opting to freeze their eggs was either because the man wasn’t ready to have children or didn’t want them at all or because the relationship was still very new.

“Most of the women had already pursued and completed their educational and career goals, but by their late 30s had been unable to find lasting reproductive relationship with a stable partner. This is why they turned to egg-freezing,” she says.

Career-planning turned out to be the least common reason the women were freezing their eggs.

While the cost of egg-freezing remains high and out of reach for many South African women, life coach and founder of motivational firm The Human Refinery Refilwe Marathe says as societal norms around the age women should be having children have become more relaxed, it’s made the decision to delay childbearing easier for many women to make.

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“It was a culture or forgone conclusion that by age 30, you would have children. This was an expectation enforced by society, adults and family. The pressure to have children at an earlier age is letting up, and the expectations are also shifting from generation to generation,” she said in a previous interview with DESTINY.

“It doesn’t mean that women aren’t getting pregnant at a younger age, but the difference is that this is a conscious movement and it’s usually a career-based decision. There’s a growing trend that women want to prioritise themselves and in turn, find a balance.”