More women are freezing their eggs for a *way* different reason than we thought

A new study out of Yale University found that more women are freezing their eggs after graduating from college and finding that there just aren’t any “quality” men to partner up with. This “man deficit,” as the study puts it, flies right in the face of other recent studies that assumed more women were freezing their eggs so that they could pursue their career and wanted to buy themselves some time to stack their dough. To be honest, there’s nothing wrong with either reason: If you think you want kids at some point in your life, but not anytime soon, freezing your eggs is not a bad way to go.

The study interviewed 150 women at eight IVF clinics in the U.S. and Israel, between June 2014 and August 2016. When asked why they were doing it, 90 percent of respondents said that they just couldn’t find a “suitable partner.”

Study author Marcia Inhorn elaborated at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Geneva, Switzerland. She said, “Women lamented the ‘missing men’ in their lives, viewing egg freezing as a way to buy time while on the continuing — online  —search for a committed partner.” The desire to find a man who wanted to “settle down,” so to speak, was more common in women who were highly educated. The results, Inhorn says, show that women are outpacing their male peers, which is a phenomenon that’s been brewing for some time.

The new survey is interesting. But it was merely 150 women at a handful of clinics, all in the same demographic, and mostly in their late 30s or 40s. Women are freezing their eggs more than they used to, likely thanks to better medical science and less stigma — remember it wasn’t until 2012 that the American Society for Reproductive Medicine took away the “experimental” label from the procedure.

Despite the high price tag, women are taking advantage of science, much like they did with birth control and emergency contraception, pretty much as soon as it was available. Now that they are freezing their eggs, though, the need to place women who do so in a box, like “Can’t Find A Man” or “Selfishly Wants A Career” is not the way to go. However you interpret the results of studies like this, there still seems to be a lot of judgement about why women choose to freeze their eggs.

Could it be that freezing your eggs is just crazy empowering?

Inhorn did add that women were happy to be taking control of their fertility. She said, “Almost all of the women that I spoke to were glad that they’d done it. They felt it had given them some measure of control, a kind of peace of mind, and it actually took the desperation out of dating and feeling like they were under the pressure of the biological clock.”

Take Kaitlyn Bristowe, for example, who found her fiancé on The Bachelorette (talk about a fairy tale!). The 31-year-old is happily engaged and employed, but decided to take advantage of her options. “I’m taking control of my future!” she said in a tweet when a fan asked her why she was at a fertility clinic. Bristowe added, “As a woman there’s always pressure to have babies, and this puts my mind at ease for when I’M ready.”

Given the expensive nature of IVF treatments, it’s a privilege to be able to make that kind of choice, and many women who would like to take advantage of science, simply cannot. It’s nice that as a society we’re finally starting to examine why women are choosing to freeze their eggs, now that the procedure is more common and accessible to some segments of the population. Let’s do more science! But let’s not assume that if women were able to freeze their eggs decades ago that they wouldn’t have — and that it might not have anything to do with men at all.