Ladies, check your benefits packages.

In the last few years, some well-known employers have added insurance coverage for female employees to pursue fertility preservation options. In doing so, companies like Apple and Facebook have shed a light on techniques that have been around for decades, but are now gaining more notice.

One of those techniques, oocyte cryopreservation, or egg freezing, has gained traction since 2013, when the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) lifted the “experimental” label on the practice, says Dr. Krystene DiPaola, medical director and assistant professor at the UC Health Center for Reproductive Health.

There appears to be no increased risk for birth defects, chromosomal abnormalities or miscarriage simply because the egg was frozen and thawed, she adds.

So, who might be interested in egg cryopreservation?

Women who want to preserve or delay their reproductive options for a variety of reasons.

“Sometimes it’s just worth a conversation,” especially if a woman is entering or in her 30s, and considering delaying fertility because she is unpartnered, or not ready but mindful of the declining odds as time goes on.

“We can get a very good guestimate [of a woman’s current and, to a degree, projected fertility] through lab [tests] and evaluating in office,” says Dr. DiPaola.

Though it’s the rare forward-thinking couple “truly planning on delaying fertility for long stretches of time,” who come in for a consult, Dr. DiPaola appreciates such wisdom when couples do not just expect “it will be simple,” to conceive at any age.

As for having such a consultation, “the earlier, the better,” she says.

Another compelling reason to look into these preservation methods is when a woman is diagnosed with a cancer whose treatment could compromise her reproductive ability, says Dr. Steven Lindheim, professor and director of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Wright State University.

At the time of diagnosis oncologists are understandably driven to act quickly to combat the cancer—doing so is their priority, he says.

But another window is open then, too, before cancer treatment starts. Although it’s hard to think about at the time, many women may appreciate later the steps taken to preserve their chances of giving birth.

“To give them that opportunity means so much to them,” Dr. Lindheim says, adding that it impacts these patients’ quality of life, especially as cancer survival rates improve.

For these patients, emergency appointments often can be made, “to get them in the door the next day or days,” Dr. DiPaola says.

Taking the opportunity to preserve fertility before cancer treatment is like taking out “an insurance policy for their reproductive future,” she adds. As a member of such a treatment team, Dr. DiPaola says these patients are “definitely more hopeful and have a positive outlook.”

Typically, when cancer is not a factor, the egg cryopreservation process involves taking an 8- to 10-day course of medication to stimulate the recruitment of viable eggs, followed by a minor surgical procedure to retrieve those eggs, which can then be frozen or fertilized and cryo-preserved as embryos.

The cost of the process can be upwards of $8,000 without insurance coverage, plus a yearly storage fee, says Dr. Kasey Reynolds, a fertility specialist at the Bethesda Fertility Center.

To date, there have been about 2,000 babies born from cryopreserved eggs and about five million from in vitro fertilization, Dr. Lindheim says, adding that some couples are using both.