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Facebook, Apple pay to freeze employees' eggs

(CNN) -- Facebook and Apple are telling their female employees: We will pay to freeze your eggs.

Facebook is already covering the procedure as part of its insurance benefits, the company said. Apple plans to offer coverage starting in January, according to report by NBC News.

The relatively new practice of freezing eggs allows women to put their fertility on hold so they can still have children later in life.

It's an unusual \"perk\" and the technology giants appear to be the first major employers to offer such coverage for non-medical reasons.

Egg freezing allows women to focus on advancing their careers during peak childbearing years without sacrificing their fertility.

But some critics argue that companies are encouraging women to put work ahead of motherhood.

The cost of freezing and storing eggs typically adds up to at least $10,000 for each round of treatment, plus $500 or more annually for storage, according to NBC News. Doctors often recommend women freeze at least 20 eggs, which can require two rounds of the procedure.

Both companies offer coverage of up to $20,000. Facebook employees began taking advantage of the coverage this year.

While using frozen eggs does not always result in pregnancy, success rates have been improving.

NBC says fertility doctors have reported a \"surge\" in demand for egg freezing since the American Society of Reproductive Medicine lifted the \"experimental\" label from the procedure.

The new benefit comes as many big technology firms have been taking steps to increase diversity among the male-dominated ranks of Silicon Valley.

Apple released statistics last month showing that 70% of the company's 98,000 worldwide employees are male. The figure jumps to 72% for leadership roles and 80% for technical positions.

Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, is a leading voice exhorting women to take a leading role in the workforce. But the company's diversity statistics are a reflection of the rest of Silicon Valley. Nearly 70% of Facebook's global staffers are male. A full 85% of the company's tech workers, and 77% of its management team, are also men.

Apple did not immediately responded to requests for confirmation.

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