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A Tortoise File

Big Egg

Big Egg is booming. Global birth rates are crashing and women are choosing to have children later in life. Private fertility clinics are drawing more investment than ever – and it’s easy to see why.

First published
Tuesday 29 September 2020

Last updated
Tuesday 17 November 2020

Why this story?

Millions of women annually are turning to IVF and other procedures to help them conceive a child. In 40 years, 8 million children have been born thanks to the scientific breakthrough of IVF, a moment, you could argue, more momentous than the moon landing for its transformative effects on society. But there are cracks in this story of Big Egg’s growth.

In this Tortoise File, we are investigating the clinics rushing to offer young women procedures affecting their fertility and their future – often with little science to support it.

We dig into how ‘abusogenic’ environments in private clinics lead desperate women to near financial ruin via add-ons and hidden costs to their fertility treatments.

We share the money diaries of those who have been through the expensive world of IVF – a place full of shame and unease for those lucky enough to be able to afford it.

And we profile the innovators, the people who are on the frontline of fertility science, leading a revolution in how we think about reproduction.

The boundaries are being redefined when it comes to the question of who can procreate, and how. 

Basia Cummings, Editor