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为真命天子冻卵而散尽千金的女性

更新时间:2018-7-8 12:01:15 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The women who empty their savings to freeze their eggs
为真命天子冻卵而散尽千金的女性

Nadine, a New York-based restaurateur, was supposed to refrain from doing too much physical activity as she prepared to have her eggs frozen.

生活在纽约的纳斯塔西娅(Nastassia)是名餐厅经理。她正准备冻卵,医生建议她不宜太过劳累。

But despite this, she would regularly cycle the two-mile journey between her Manhattan flat and the Upper West Side fertility clinic for morning ultrasound appointments. The extra stress on her body could possibly have damaged the eggs growing in her ovaries and a ride through New York rush hour by bike is anything but stress-free. Only on the day of the operation itself two years ago did she finally indulge in a cab ride.

可尽管如此,她定期要大清早骑三公里多的路程,从曼哈顿的住所赶到上西区的生育诊所做超声波检查。要知道在纽约早高峰时段骑自行车可不是什么轻松的事,而若身体过度疲劳会影响她卵巢内卵子的发育。她只在两年前取卵手术的当天才奢侈了一回,搭了次出租车。

“I was like, this is going to save me money,” Nadine explains. She is one of thousands of women each year who decide to have their eggs frozen and stored as an insurance policy for the future. For some, their hope is to preserve their fertility while they look for the right partner or so they can hold off starting a family while they pursue more immediate career goals.

"我是想省钱啦",纳斯塔西娅解释说。每年,像纳斯塔西娅这样冻卵的女性有成千上万,她们把卵子冻起来好为日后留个保障。有些人是希望在找到真命天子前保存自身的生育能力,而有些人则想先立业后成家。

The procedure is much like the first half of an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) cycle: stimulation with hormones that causes multiple eggs to develop, then retrieval before they are frozen. Women can then use these frozen eggs sometime down the line for IVF, should they be unable to conceive naturally.

冻卵流程与体外受精的前半段相似:先用激素刺激多个卵子发育,再将它们取出冷冻保存。若女性丧失了自然怀孕的能力,就可以使用这些冷冻的卵子进行体外受精。

But much like other forms of insurance, egg freezing – or oocyte cryopreservation as it is also known – can exert a heavy financial toll on those taking it out. A single cycle can cost up to $17,000 in the US, equivalent to a fifth of the US median household income. In the UK, a cycle can cost between £2,500 and £5,000 – roughly 10% to 20% of a median household’s disposable income.

冻卵(又名卵母细胞低温保存),同其他保险一样,可能给冻卵女性造成很大的经济负担。在美国,一次冻卵要花费将近一万七千美金,相当于美国家庭收入中位数的五分之一。在英国,一次冻卵费用在2,500英镑至5,000英镑,约占英国家庭平均可支配收入的10%到20%。

Covering these costs can cause significant financial strain for women, who already earn less and save less than men do. Many women who freeze their eggs decimate their savings, while others are left with significant debt after taking out loans to pay for the procedure or the costly medications.

相比男性,女性本就赚的少花的多。高额的费用将给冻卵女性带来巨大的财务压力。许多人倾尽积蓄来冻卵,甚至还有些人不惜借贷以支付取卵费和昂贵的治疗费,导致负债累累。

But why are these women prepared to pay such a high price – often at the cost of other goals such as owning a house or financial security – to store eggs they may never need? There are also absolutely no guarantees the frozen eggs will lead to a successful pregnancy even if they do use them.

为何这些女性愿意花如此大的代价来存下日后可能根本用不上的卵子,甚至愿意为此牺牲房产、财务保障等其他人生目标?即便这些卵子未来真能用上,冻卵也并不与成功受孕分娩划等号。

When a handful of large technology companies, such as Apple and Facebook, began offering employees egg freezing as a fertility benefit, critics portrayed the move as a sinister attempt to encourage women to “surrender to corporate control,” putting off human relationships in favour of more hours at their desks. Both these companies have insisted they offered it as a perk in response to demand from their employees and to give them more choice.

苹果、Facebook等几家科技巨头为雇员提供冻卵福利的措施就遭遇非议。有批评则认为此举意图险恶,是在鼓励女性"屈服单位的管控",延长工作时间而将人际关系置于身后。但这些公司都坚称这样做是响应员工要求,为他们提供更大的选择余地。

Some health insurance plans will also cover cryopreservation if it is judged medically necessary, such as before chemotherapy treatment. But the vast majority of women pay for the procedure out of their own savings.

一些健康保险公司也准备为医疗目的冻卵报销费用,例如罹患癌症需要化疗的女性。但绝大部分冻卵的女性都是自掏腰包。

Nadine, now 36, lived frugally throughout her 20s and early 30s so she could save towards a deposit on a home, at one point amassing $30,000 in the bank, some of which she invested in a side business. But at 34, having ended a long-term relationship the previous year, she decided to freeze her eggs, draining $5,000 from her remaining savings in the process. She took out a loan for the rest of the $8,000 in total she needed to cover the cost of the egg retrieval, and put the ovarian stimulation drugs, which cost around $1,000, on her credit card.

现年36岁的纳斯塔西娅为攒钱买房十几年来生活节俭,最多时银行户头里存了3万美元的积蓄,还留一些钱做了副业投资。但在她33岁那年,一段多年的恋情以分手告终。第二年她决心冻卵并从所剩积蓄中拿出了五千美元,又贷了八千美元以支付取卵费用,还刷信用卡花了一千美元购买刺激卵巢排卵的药。

Four months after freezing her eggs, in December 2016 she got a bonus and a pay rise, enabling her to pay for a second cycle of egg freezing in January 2017, without taking on additional debt.

时至2016年12月,也就是她第一次冻卵后四个月后,她拿了一笔奖金也涨了薪。一个月后,她又进行了一次冻卵,这次没贷款。

Although now she is earning more than she ever has before, Nadine is still paying off the loan she took out. She still looks at properties, and even contacts agents, before being nudged back to reality.

虽然纳斯塔西娅现在赚得比以前多,但还没还完贷。如今她也在找房看房,联系中介——在没跌落现实之前。

“There’s still this thing in the back of my mind that I have all that money, because I did at one point,” she says. “But the way dating goes, I know I might not find the right person in two, four, or 100 years. (The age of) 34 seemed to be the cut-off of when fertility doctors advise to freeze eggs, so it was a no-brainer. I had to do what I needed to do.”

纳斯塔西娅说,"毕竟之前有过那么多钱,所以我总潜意识里觉得自己还有钱。但照我现在约会的情形看,也许这几年甚至永远我都找不到对的人了。医生建议冻卵时年龄最好小于34岁,所以我想都没想就做了,我得做我该做的事。

The number of women freezing their eggs has risen sharply in recent years. There were just 564 egg-freezing cycles performed in the US during 2009, while in 2016 this number had rocketed to 8,892, according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. In the UK, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority recorded around 1,170 egg-freezing cycles performed in 2016, up from 395 in 2012.

近年来冻卵的女性数量激增。美国辅助生育技术学会(Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology,SART)数据显示,2009年美国冻卵案例仅564个,而这一数字在2016年猛涨到8,892个。英国人类受精和胚胎学管理局(Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority,HFEA)的数据则从2012年的395增长到了2016年的1,170。

The increase can be partially explained in 2012, when the American Society for Reproductive Medicine lifted the “experimental” designation after advances in freezing technology led to eggs getting a much better chance of viability after being thawed. Media coverage of technology companies offering egg freezing as an employee benefit and celebrities talking about their own frozen eggs raised awareness of the option. As did companies like EggBanxx, a financial services firm offering loans for egg freezing, which drew attention for holding egg-freezing “parties”.

这一增长背后的原因可能是:随着冻卵技术的发展,卵子解冻后的存活率提高,卵子冷冻临床应用被开放。2012年,美国生殖医学会(the American Society for Reproductive Medicine,ASRM)正式摘除冻卵技术的"试验性"标签。另外,科技公司为员工提供冻卵福利以及名人自述冻卵经历等相关报道引发了人们的关注。还有一些冻卵派对的举办也起了推广的作用,例如,一家为冻卵客户提供贷款金融服务的EggBanxx公司就经常组织这样的派对。

Research into this sort of “social egg freezing” suggests women are perhaps taking this costly gamble due to factors that go deeper than simply wanting to focus on their careers. Unpublished research by Yale University anthropologist Marcia Inhorn found 90% of the 150 American women she interviewed as part of a study on egg freezing cited an ongoing search for a partner as their main reason for choosing the procedure. Zeynep Gurtin, a visiting researcher with the University of Cambridge, has claimed there is a similar phenomenon in the UK.

针对这类"冻卵社交"的研究显示,女性之所以肯花大价钱下如此赌注可不仅是为了专心事业发展。美国耶鲁大学(Yale University)人类学家英霍恩(Marcia Inhorn)开展的一项尚未发表的冻卵研究表明,受访的150位美国女性中有90%选择冻卵的主要原因是没找到合适的人生伴侣。而英国剑桥大学的访问学者格庭(Zeynep Gurtin)表示英国女性也是如此。

But what does this mean for women’s finances? Women already earn less than men in nearly all sectors of the economy, and they also own fewer assets such pensions and property. In the US, women hold just 32 cents for every dollar owned by men.

但冻卵对女性的财务状况有什么影响呢?几乎各行各业的女性都比男性赚的少,相关津贴及名下的房产等资产也少于男性。在美国,男女财富占有比例为100 : 32。

While the number of women who have frozen their eggs is likely to be too small to impact national figures, for individual women, the cost is significant.

虽说冻卵女性的数量不多,不足以影响全国整体数据,可对个人来说,花费极高。

Emma Jane, a freelance events planner in London, makes around £55,000 a year and started looking into egg freezing when she was 37, after not having dated anyone seriously for several years. She researched clinics carefully, and was able to do preliminary tests at a clinic that had an offer for an inexpensive consultation – around £200, she recalls.

简(Emma Jane)是一名自由职业者,在伦敦从事活动策划,年收入约55,000英镑。多年来她情路坎坷,37岁时她开始考虑冻卵。对冻卵诊所一番调研后,她选了其中一家做了初步检测,她记得当时咨询费是200镑,并不算太贵。

In November 2017, she retrieved nine eggs at a network of UK clinics known for pioneering mild stimulation techniques, which use fewer drugs and so lowers the cost of the procedure, but also yields fewer eggs. Even so, it still set her back around £5,100 for the procedure, including medication and blood tests.

2017年,她在一家诊所取了9课卵子,加上验血、药费等,总共花了5,100英镑。英国某些诊所提倡相对温和的促排卵技术,用药少,费用也低,但排卵数量更少,简选择的诊所就是其中一家。

“It is a lot of money,” says Emma Jane. She’s now planning to undergo a second cycle – doctors recommend women have 20 for the best chance of having a live birth. Storing her eggs will also cost Emma Jane an additional £360 annually, which will set her back thousands if she stores them for the UK’s maximum term of ten years. Then there is the cost of IVF itself, which can run to £5,000 or more for private treatment, if she chooses to use them.

简说:"花的钱可不少"。目前她正打算再取一轮,医生的建议是至少保存20个卵子,这样将来成功受孕的机率更高。保存卵子的费用是每年360英镑。如果要存10年(英国现行法律规定的最高年限),则得花几千英镑。若将来要将这些卵子用于体外受精,还要花约5,000英镑,找私立诊所就更贵了。

The costs can become astronomical. Emma Jane compares it to “an insurance policy that could be a waste of money, because I might meet a partner and have kids naturally”.

有些冻卵可达天价。简将冻卵喻为购买保险,"兴许这就是白花钱,或许我能遇见结婚对象,将来自然受孕生子呢!"

“Even if I met someone tomorrow who was the man of my dreams, it would be a while until we settled down and got married. Then if we chose to have a kid, I’d probably be 40 by then, and if I wanted two kids, I’d probably be in my early 40s.”

"就算我明天就遇到真命天子,到结婚稳定下来也得一段时间。如果再打算要孩子,可能我就快40了,要二胎的话就40多岁了。"

But what these women are paying for is still just a sliver of hope. The technology is not guaranteed to work, since the majority of IVF cycles end in failure – only a fifth are successful – and there is always the chance that the frozen eggs might not survive the thawing process, or could have chromosomal abnormalities.

但其实这些冻卵的女性高价换来的不过是一线希望而已。因为冻卵可能失败。之前冷冻卵子的试管受精大多都失败了,累计成功率仅有20%左右。冷冻的卵子还可能在解冻过程中死亡或出现染色体异常。

Helaine Olen, a personal finance writer and author of personal finance book Pound Foolish, questions why so much money is pouring into an industry that still has low success rates. “This is about American women getting sold on a less-than-certain technology as a way of addressing greater sociological issues,” argues Olen.

奥伦(Helaine Olen)是位个人理财作家,出版了个人理财书《贪小便宜吃大亏》(Pound Foolish)。她就对人们把钱投在成功率如此低的行业表示质疑,她说:"此事的本质是美国女性被尚不确定的科技出卖以期解决更严重的社会问题。"

And for most women, they hope they will meet a partner and get pregnant the old-fashioned (and free) way, and therefore never having to use their frozen eggs at all.

就个体而言,大多数冻卵女性仍希望遇到合适的伴侣,可以通过传统(也自由)的方式受孕,这样就不需要用到冷冻的卵子了。

Tiffany Murray, now 40, froze her eggs when she was 34 after having limited success with dating in Washington, DC. Rather than be pushed into a relationship that wasn’t right by the desire to have children before it was too late, she chose to freeze her eggs. Her parents paid for the procedure as a Christmas gift.

穆雷(Tiffany Murray)现年40岁,住在华盛顿特区,恋情一直不顺,34岁时选择了冻卵。与其因为急着要孩子而将就,她宁可冻卵。冻卵的钱是她父母出的,作为送她的圣诞礼物。

Four years later, however, she met her now-husband and they conceived naturally shortly after they were married. She still pays to keep her 14 frozen eggs stored in case they have trouble conceiving a second time; in the six years since she froze, the annual storage fee has risen from $350 to $600.

但38岁时,她遇到了现在的丈夫,婚后不久就自然受孕了。现在她还在花钱保存着14个冷冻卵子,以防要二胎时会用到。自她6年前冻卵到现在,卵子保管费已经从每年360美元涨到了600美元。

At that price, jokes Murray, it feels a little like her “eggs are being held to ransom”.

穆雷笑称这个价钱让她觉得自己的"卵子被人挟持了,要缴付赎金"。

Despite the high cost of retrieving 30 of her eggs and the $1,000-a-year storage fees, Nadine feels she made the right choice. She even encourages friends to consider freezing their own eggs.

取30个卵子的费用不菲,每年的保管费也要1千美元,但纳斯塔西娅坚定地认为自己的选择是对的,她还鼓励朋友们考虑冻卵。

“There’s a little bit of anger surrounding the finances,” she says, but she adds that she does not regret making the investment in her future.

纳斯塔西娅说,"财务方面确实会有压力",但她从不后悔给自己的未来投资。

“Now I have 30 kids on the Upper West Side that I pay $1,000 a year for,” she adds with a laugh. Or at least she might have, if she ever chooses to cash in her fertility insurance policy.

她笑着说,"现在每年我要为我在上西区的30个娃儿花1,000美金"。如果她以后要"兑现"这笔生育保险的话,这些"冻卵"还真可能是她的孩子。

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