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Fertility preservation for married couple

13 September, 2020

Question:

Hi, I have a question about fertility. Thank God, my husband and I have 3 children and have never had any trouble with fertility. I’ve gotten pregnant within a few months with each child. We feel very fortunate.

I am thinking about the future, however, when there may be a situation in which we want more children but we do encounter trouble conceiving. We are in our early thirties. I am wondering if other couples are facing the same possibility and if they are taking action steps to increase their options. For example, I know that some women freeze their eggs before they are married, and some married couples who want to delay having children will freeze embryos. With the latter, I’m thinking of friends who are not frum, though perhaps there’s a halachic basis for doing that, too. But…. is it a “thing” for married couples who are not facing known fertility issues right now to freeze eggs or embryos for the future?

I’m not talking about delaying our childbearing at all. In any event, we’ve already fulfilled the mitzvah of pru urevu — b’H we have two girls and a boy. It’s just about making sure there is no situation in the future when we want to conceive again but biology gets in the way. I imagine that there are halachic implications of my question, but also financial ones (these procedures can be expensive, I’m sure, and many are probably not covered by insurance)…and social ones. I’d love your help in thinking this through. Thank you!


Answer:

This is a fascinating and important question.

There are some medical risks involved in fertility preservation procedures. There are also ethical questions about the use and disposal of embryos and, in some cases, diverting medical resources from those in greater need of them. These issues bear halachic weight. They are surmountable specifically when there is a current need or in cases in which there is strong reason to think that a need will arise.

We cannot rule out the possibility that something like what you suggest will become accepted practice in a few decades, as the technologies develop. However, we cannot recommend pursuing fertility preservation at this stage.

We hope and pray that you will be able to have as many children as you desire. The Talmud teaches that the keys to fertility lie in God’s hands. Even as our ideas about appropriate human intervention evolve, we must accept that there are never guarantees, biological or otherwise, that a given couple will be able to conceive.

Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.


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