TIME families

What You Really Need to Know About Egg Freezing

Some call it an "insurance policy" for modern women. But does it really work? Watch TIME's investigation of the latest fertility craze

Egg freezing has been hailed as a game-changer for women, an “insurance policy” to revitalize waning fertility, a breakthrough as revolutionary as the birth control pill. But how well does it really work?

In this week’s issue of the magazine, we took a deep dive into the promises and pitfalls of egg-freezing. If you’re reading this, you probably already know all the facts about how egg quality and quantity deteriorate with age, which is why some women consider freezing their eggs until they’re ready to use them.

Here are eight key takeaways from six months of reporting on whether procedure lives up to the hype:

1) Egg-freezing is taking off among professional women. Doctors say they’ve seen more interest in the procedure since Apple and Facebook announced last year they’d cover egg-freezing in their employee health plans, and younger women are beginning to ask about how they can preserve their fertility. In 2009, only about 500 women froze their eggs—in 2013, almost 5,000 did, according to data obtained from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART.) Fertility marketer EggBanxx estimates that 76,000 women will be freezing their eggs by 2018.

2) While there is no widespread published data on the live birth rate from elective egg-freezing, initial data provided exclusively for TIME by Dr. Kevin Doody, former chairman of the SART Registry, gives us the clearest picture so far. Of the 353 egg-thaw cycles in 2012, only 83 resulted in a live birth. After 414 thaws in 2013, 99 babies were born. Those are the most comprehensive live-birth rates for egg freezing, and they’re just under 24%. (It should be noted that some of these eggs may have been frozen with an older slow-freeze method, which has a much lower success rate.)

3) Elective egg-freezing gained popularity after the American Society for Reproductive Medicine removed the “experimental” label from the procedure in 2012, in part because a new quick-freeze vitrification method radically improved success rates. But in the same document, the ASRM also warned against using egg-freezing to electively delay motherhood, citing lack of data. “Marketing this technology for the purpose of deferring childbearing may give women false hope,” they wrote.

4) That marketing is happening anyway. Fertility companies and specialists are hosting egg-freezing parties and other informational gatherings to encourage women to consider freezing their eggs as an “insurance policy,” and in some cases offer Groupon-style discounts if they commit immediately. One of these fertility companies, EggBanxx, recently merged into a new company, Progyny, that’s privately held and funded in part by Merck Serono Ventures. Merck Serono Ventures is the strategic corporate-venture arm of a biopharmaceutical division of Merck KGaA, which just happens to make three major fertility drugs.

(MORE: You can read the full story here: Buying Time: More women than ever are freezing their eggs to use later– but success rates are lower than you think)

5) Freezing your eggs is expensive. The egg retrieval process can cost $10,000-15,000, and that’s not including storage fees or the cost of fertilization and embryo transfer. And it can be physically grueling as well—patients give themselves daily hormone injections for two weeks before eggs are retrieved from the ovaries. The good news is that the procedure doesn’t take very long—most patients said it was over in about 15 minutes.

6) Nobody knows how many babies have been delivered from a mother’s own frozen eggs. When you ask doctors about success rates, they tend to compare the procedure to IVF (which is done with fresh eggs) or egg donation (which often uses frozen eggs from women in their early 20s). And while anecdotal evidence suggests egg freezing is comparable to IVF because frozen eggs behave like fresh ones, IVF itself is hardly foolproof—even in women under 35, the majority of cycles don’t result in a live birth. But because IVF is such a common procedure, women are often reassured when they hear the comparison.

7) Even young women have a high percentage of eggs with chromosomal abnormalities. And while genetic testing of eggs is technically possible, it’s too expensive to become part of the regular procedure in the U.S.—so genetic testing only happens once a egg has been fertilized and grown into a blastocyst (a pre-embryonic state.) That means women don’t know if their eggs are genetically healthy until they’re thawed and fertilized, which means they could be freezing—and pinning their hopes on—bad eggs.

TIME Crime

Watch: NYPD Official Explains When Body Cameras Will Be Recording

The NYPD is testing body cameras and figuring out how they should—and shouldn't—be used

As communities across the country wrestle with questions over police misconduct, law enforcement agencies are increasingly turning to body cameras, which supporters say provide transparency for police actions and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations. At least 5,000 of the country’s 18,000 departments are now using or testing them, including the biggest agency of them all: the New York Police Department.

Launched six months ago by the NYPD, the department’s body camera pilot program is providing direction for police officials in determining when officers should be recording, when they shouldn’t and the times recording should be left to the officer’s discretion.

In an interview with TIME, Jessica Tisch, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner of information technology, discussed the department’s plans for cameras and said it’s possible that the entire force of 35,000 officers could eventually carry them.

“I don’t see body cameras at the NYPD as a quick fix,” Tisch said. “I see it as part of a long-term, big picture strategy for how policing should work in the 21st century.”

TIME TIME 100

Kanye West Talks Hope for Humanity’s Future

The artist describes the nature of his influence in an exclusive video interview with TIME

When Kanye West was on the cover of TIME in 2005, promoting his second album, the magazine noted that the rapper strives to be all things to all people, concluding, “He just might succeed.” Nearly ten years, five albums, and countless provocative statements later, West appears to have gotten as close to that goal as a recording artist can get: A cultural colossus who’s as comfortable showing a fashion collection as performing at the Grammys or sharing the contours of his personal life with Ellen DeGeneres and her viewers.

“I’m not in a competition with anyone,” he says in a video interview with TIME.

West’s greatest passion whether in music or fashion, he says, is taking risks that can influence mainstream culture.

“Currently, the most amazing designers have very few opportunities to connect to the masses. The most amazing designers have been programmed to design in a luxury context,” says West. He admires admires fast-fashion focused on the consumer created by Zara or H&M for doing just that. And the recent Yeezus Tour was memorable for more than its songs: West’s statements onstage about the nature of contemporary fame, and its intersection with issues of race and class stoked feverish conversation among fans and the media.

“All these walls that keep us from loving each other as one family or one race–racism, religion, where we grew up, whatever, class, socioeconomic–what makes us be so selfish and prideful, what keeps us from wanting to help the next man, what makes us be so focused on a personal legacy as opposed to the entire legacy of a race,” West says. “The dinosaurs aren’t remembered for much more than their bones. When humanity’s gone, what do we give to this little planet that we’re on, and what could we do collectively, removing the pride?”

That kind of thinking has made his every online provocation an instant attraction, equal parts celebration and criticism.

“Every time I crash the Internet, it’s like this little drop of truth,” West says. “Every time I say something that’s extremely truthful out loud, it literally breaks the Internet. So what are we getting all of the rest of the time?”

Even when he’s taking risks, West’s audience is willing to meet him—and West has only grown more comfortable with risk. West’s most recent album, 2013’s Yeezus, was certified platinum, despite the lack of an obvious radio-friendly single like past hits “Stronger” or “Love Lockdown.”As an artistic statement, Yeezus‘s percussive, self-consciously alienating sound was a leap forward, or at least in a startling new direction. Perhaps as a consequence of his marriage to Kim Kardashian, West has grown more evidently comfortable with his status among the famous. The tortured artist who interrupted Taylor Swift at the 2009 VMAs has, over time, evolved into a subversive wit who only pretended to interrupt Beck at the 2015 Grammys. West is a master of publicity, but he says his fame is less about glorifying himself than it is about the art of sharing: “Our focus needs to be less on what our legacy’s going to be or how we can control each other and more how we can give to each other.”

TIME Rwanda

Scars and the Smell of Grass: One Survivor’s Lasting Reminders of Genocide

Survivors of the Rwanda genocide in 1994, which left hundreds of thousands of people dead, still grapple with its brutal legacy

More than two decades after the Rwandan genocide, the smell of grass in the summer still gives Consolee Nishimwe nightmares.

Between 250,000 and 500,000 women were raped during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, according to the United Nations. At 14, Nishimwe survived a brutal attack that left her emotionally and physically scarred for years. As a result of the assault, she is now HIV positive. Her father and brothers—aged 18 months, 7 and 9—were all killed.

“I will never forget what happened to me,” Nishimwe, who has vivid memories of hiding in the bushes from Hutu militias, told TIME in a recent interview. “Physical violence happened to me, and also living with HIV as a result of that, it’s something I will never forget—that will never go anywhere, that I have to live with.”

This week, as Rwanda’s government commemorates the 21st anniversary of the genocide, many survivors like Nishimwe are faced with unavoidable reminders of the physical and emotional toll of the conflict.

When asked about forgiveness, Nishimwe, who now lives in New York City, spoke of a work in progress. “That’s a really difficult word,” she said. “I think I did… I think 20 years is still early to me.”

Nishimwe’s book, Tested to the Limit: A Genocide Survivor’s Story of Pain, Resilience, and Hope, is an account of her experience as a survivor.

TIME psychology

This Is Why You Overshop in Ikea

We take you through the popular furniture and home goods store to show you how the layout affects your buying habits

It’s easy to overshop. But at Ikea, it’s almost impossible not to spend more than you originally budgeted.

That’s because the Swedish furniture retailer designs its stores to trigger impulse purchases while making it difficult for shoppers to make a mad dash for the exits. It’s a way to take advantage of Americans’ changing shopping habits, which TIME’s Josh Sanburn detailed in this week’s magazine.

Our current phase of overconsumption began about 30 years ago, when Americans began committing close to half of their annual expenditures to nonnecessities. It was the beginning of a gradual decline in the cost of consumer goods, the growth of everyday credit-card use and the rise of big-box stores and discount retailers that pushed their way into communities nationwide, forcing down prices and profits for those competing around them.

In the past decade, the cost of cell phones, toys, computers and televisions has plunged, thanks in part to overseas manufacturing. The rise of “fast fashion”–popularized by the growth of clothing outlets like Gap, Forever 21 and American Eagle selling $10 T-shirts and $30 jeans–is now driven by low-cost imports H&M and Uniqlo. Today the average U.S. household has about 248 garments and 29 pairs of shoes. It purchases, on average, 64 pieces of clothing and seven pairs of shoes annually, at a total cost of $1,141 a year, or $16 per item.

“When the question is why do we have so much stuff, one reason is because we can,” says Annie Leonard, executive director of the environmental group Greenpeace USA and the creator of The Story of Stuff, an animated video about excessive consumerism. “For a huge percentage of this country, there is no longer an economic obstacle to having the illusion of luxury. It’s just that this stuff is so cheap.”

Watch the video above to go inside one Ikea store in Brooklyn and see how its strategy works, and read more here.

Read next: My House Is Ground Zero in the Clutter Wars

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TIME Islamist Extremism

Inside ISIS and al-Qaeda’s Battle for Brand Supremacy

They may share similar goals but the two groups are bitter rivals

Four days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, which killed 17 people, a video surfaced online showing one of the gunmen, Amedy Coulibaly, pledging allegiance in broken Arabic to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Earlier that week, another assailant, Chérif Kouachi, in a telephone interview to French television claimed allegiance to a different jihadist group: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. “We acted a bit together and a bit separately,” he said. Kouachi was later killed by police.

With an investigation of the attacks still ongoing, it remains unclear how closely the gunmen actually coordinated with the two terrorist organizations or between themselves. But the episode offers a glimpse of new undercurrents fueling Islamic terrorism: al-Qaeda is no longer the key player when it comes to Islamist terrorism against the West. Instead, multiple jihadi groups cooperate, and at times compete with one another.

That transformation is in full display with the recent successes of ISIS, which have re-invigorated jihadist movements worldwide, explained Katherine Zimmerman, a research fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank. “ISIS is only spurring the race toward violent jihad,” she said.

One of the key forces fueling this revival is ISIS’s head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a native Iraqi with a PhD in Islamic Studies and the track record of an ambitious leader.

Unlike heads of other al-Qaeda’s main affiliates who climbed the ladders of the group’s central leadership, al-Baghdadi rose in the ranks of one of its offshoots, al-Qaeda in Iraq, and doesn’t have a direct, personal relationship with the rest of the network.

In April 2013, al-Baghdadi announced that he was extending his group’s activities from Iraq into Syria. To reflect the change, he renamed al-Qaeda in Iraq to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, or ISIS.

The move reportedly took al-Qaeda’s head by surprise. In 2014, the group formally dissociated itself from its affiliate in Iraq and Syria, culminating years of feuding between the two organizations. ISIS “is not a branch of the al-Qaeda group … does not have an organizational relationship with it and [al-Qaeda] is not the group responsible for their actions,” al-Qaeda’s general command said in a statement.

The extent of the break’s shockwave is yet to be fully measured. But from the sidelines, observers have taken note of the new balance of power.

Recent signs of the tug-of-war include reports of ISIS militants trying to recruit in Afghanistan and Pakistan and of the arrest of three of its agents in late January — effectively tip-toeing on al-Qaeda’s home turf.

“The Islamic State is a competitor in leading the global jihad and it is currently winning the race,” said William McCants, a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Some groups, from Northern Africa to South-east Asia, have since rallied behind the winning horse.

For instance, in September, an armed group calling itself the Caliphate Soldiers in Algeria, previously affiliated with al-Qaeda’s North African branch, split from al-Qaeda’s core command and swore loyalty to ISIS, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors terrorist activity online.

In October, senior members of the Pakistani Taliban vowed allegiance to the Islamic State. While the six men didn’t speak for the Pakistani Taliban, the announcement further underscores divisions among militant Islamist groups as ISIS rises.

In all, 18 organizations expressed support and/or allegiance to ISIS, according to an analysis provided by al-Qaeda expert Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou, deputy director of the Geneva Center for Security Policy and adjunct professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva.

Beyond the Arab world, another organization has had a complicated relationship with al-Qaeda and ISIS: Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad, better known as Boko Haram. The group is behind a deadly suicide attack on a United Nations building in Abuja in 2011, the killing of thousands of people, including hundreds of students, and the kidnapping of at least 800 women and children in the past year alone.

While there is evidence that Boko Haram received training and support from al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the Nigerian group is increasingly aligning itself with ISIS. Drawn by its numerous successes, Boko Haram has adopted the ISIS flag in videos and started to mirror ISIS’ language in statements, said Amy Pate, the research director of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism at the University of Maryland.

“Boko Haram is going after status,” Pate said. “As ISIS remains the hot brand within the Islamic jihadi movement, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boko Haram continued to use supportive rhetoric and align itself more and more with ISIS as opposed to al-Qaeda.”

A month after ISIS declared its caliphate, Boko Haram also appeared to mirror the group’s land-grabbing tactics in Northern Nigeria, said Jacob Zenn, an African affairs analyst for the D.C.-based Jamestown Foundation.

Now, Boko Haram controls an area just over 30,000 square kilometers of territory, about the size of West Virginia.

But it’s premature to speak of a formal link between ISIS and Boko Haram.

“We see a clear copying,” said Zenn. “The big question remains as whether this is messaging or signaling or whether there are intermediaries between the two groups.”

Yet, despite ISIS’ growing appeal, the major branches of al-Qaeda in Yemen, Somalia and North Africa have remained in the ranks.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is considered the most dangerous affiliate and has the closest relationship with the original al-Qaeda.

The two have overlapping hierarchies: AQAP’s leader, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, was recently appointed to serve as al-Qaeda’s general manager, an important position that effectively makes him No.2 of the organization.

Al-Wuhayshi and al-Qaeda’s current head Ayman al-Zawahiri go way back. Al-Wuhayshi was Osama bin Laden’s personal aide in Afghanistan from the late 1990s until after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, at a time al-Zawahiri was also part of bin Laden’s inner circle.

In the rift between ISIS and al-Qaeda, AQAP has sided with the latter, arguing in online videos that al-Baghdadi’s declaration of an Islamic caliphate was illegitimate.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, another of al-Qaeda’s main affiliates, has for its part refrained from recognizing ISIS as legitimate. The group’s leadership, based in desert areas of Algeria, is also part of the network that trained in Afghanistan.

Blood kins
Despite clear antagonisms when it comes to strategy, al-Qaeda and ISIS can be thought of as ideological siblings.

“The disagreement between the two is over what the group should be doing to bring about the caliphate: the tactics and strategies,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Zimmerman said. “ISIS and al-Qaeda both want global jihad, but the way they go about it is very different.”

While al-Qaeda’s strategy under Osama bin Laden focused on preaching its form of Islam and toppling regimes aligned with the West before trying to establish a caliphate, ISIS believes in simultaneously establishing a state — a strategy first championed by al-Qaeda in Iraq’s deceased ideologue, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, said Zimmerman.

It is those competing visions that may separate the two in the long run.

What has been ISIS’ success — its ability to conquer and control territory — could be the source of its demise as the group will have to defend its territorial conquests, explained al-Qaeda expert Mohamedou.

“ISIS wants to be a global entity, but it’s very much locally grounded,” Mohamedou explained. “The territory they hold is their strength because they extract resources, but territory is where you can be found and where you can be targeted — that is strategically a more difficult position to hold.”

TIME Super Bowl

How Science Could Determine Who Wins the Super Bowl

A football science expert on how coaches can minimize randomness and take risks

Consider the fumble. Unlike a basketball, soccer ball or baseball, a football will never fall the same way twice. Its cone shape causes it to bounce in random directions, and every time the ball is fumbled, players must dive on top of where they think it might be going in an attempt to recover it. It’s the most exciting part of the game—and, it turns out, perhaps the most important.

The reason we call a football a pigskin is because the balls were originally made from a pig’s bladder. Those balls were about the same size as today’s but were not as pointy on the ends. The balls only began to take their modern shape—what’s known as a prolate spheroid—after the forward pass was introduced, because it’s easier to throw a pointier ball, even though’s harder to predict what will happen to it when it hits the ground.

“These guys are gladiators, the best specimen of humans that we have, but when it comes to the ball being dropped, they’re reduced to kindergartners because they just throw themselves on top of it. That’s the best you can do in terms of recovering this ball,” says Ainissa Ramirez, and scientist and author of the book Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game.

MORE How Digital Footballs Could Have Saved Us From Deflategate

It’s a problem for coaches in a game where so much of the play is precise. “Randomness, which is part of this bigger field called chaos theory, is sort of one of the last ways coaches have to beat another team,” says Ramirez. “We studied two different teams that looked pretty much the same on paper, but they had different performances when it came to recovering fumbles. One team did better than the other, and its performance that year was better than the other.”

This attempt to control randomness has become particularly important during the Deflategate debate leading up to Super Bowl Sunday. Since 2000, teams that have won the turnover scramble won 79% of their games. Warren Sharp at Slate argues that statistics suggest the Patriots—who allegedly used under-inflated balls in the AFC Championship game that clinched their trip to the Super Bowl—have been trying to eliminate fumbles and therefore win more games by deflating balls. He points out that the Patriots have been nearly fumble-free since 2006 and probably not because of any new carrying strategy—players who left New England had drastically worse individual fumble rates after their departure.

Without cheating, there’s no real skill that goes into recovering the ball. It depends on luck. So what else can coaches do to win games? One suggestion might be combatting their biological instincts.

Why, for example, don’t coaches go for it on a fourth down? It’s a question Ramirez gets a lot, and the the answer, she says, actually has to do with monkeys.

She describes one experiment in which scientists taught monkeys how to exchange money for grapes. The monkeys interacted with two people: A generous person and a stingy person. The generous person would show the monkeys one grape; the monkeys would give them money; and the generous person would give them two grapes. The stingy person would show the monkeys three grapes; the monkeys would give them money; and the stingy person would give them two grapes. “In both cases, the monkey got two grapes, but the monkey didn’t like the stingy person at all,” says Ramirez. “They actually quantified this: The monkeys hated the stingy person by 2.5 times.”

MORE The Simple Way to Make Football Safer

Humans have the same instinct: Our dislike of risk is 2.5 times greater than our appreciation of a benefit. “So coaches don’t want to go for it on the fourth down because their sensitivity to risk is higher than the benefits of actually going for it,” says Ramirez.

Whatever coach can find (legal) ways to recover fumbles and teach himself to bet against his instincts during the Super Bowl will likely win.

 

TIME Super Bowl

Watch a Scientist Put ‘Deflategate’ Under the Microscope

The science behind the New England Patriots scandal

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is appealing his suspension over the deflategate scandal. The NFL said Monday that Brady would have to sit out of four games without pay after the league determined of 11 of the 12 balls the New England Patriots used in their AFC Championship Game win were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements. Both coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady denied any wrongdoing prior to the Super Bowl game, and Brady has maintained his innocence throughout the investigation.

Science suggests that someone purposely deflated the balls.

Ainissa Ramirez, scientist and co-author of Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game, breaks down whether the cold weather could account for the footballs deflating about two pounds each, how players might take advantage of a deflated ball, and what players have done to manipulate balls in the past.

TIME People

Watch the Highs and Lows of 2014 in 165 Seconds

What a year you were, 2014 - here's some of the highlights

2014 was a year of bearing witness. From grainy footage of police confrontations in the U.S. to acts of senseless violence abroad, this year we saw, we shared and ultimately – we connected.

We watched borders being redrawn in Eastern Europe, the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the spread of a microscopic, yet formidable, enemy: the Ebola virus. Some led thousands into protest; some led countries into battle, others began to heal rifts that began half a century ago.

Whether it was tragedy, transition or triumph, here’s a look at the most significant actions that helped shape 2014.

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