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Career women who  choose their job over a baby are often said to have put motherhood on ice.

Most who actually freeze their eggs, however, don't do so because they are intent on succeeding at work.

They do it because they can't  find a similarly successful man, it has been claimed.

These highly educated women, who pay around £5,000 each for egg freezing, are described in a new study as the ‘leftover women' in a generation of ‘missing men'.

Their problem, according to US and Israeli researchers, is that they are unable to find similarly clever, driven men because fewer males are entering higher education. It follows reports that British women are a third more likely to attend university than men. The findings, from a study of 150 women, have been backed up by British fertility clinics.

Study author Marcia Inhorn, professor of anthropology at Yale University, said women who freeze their eggs have struggled to find suitable mates. 

‘There are not enough graduates for them,' she said. ‘In simple terms, this is about an oversupply of educated women. In China they call them "leftover women". It sounds cold but in demographic terms this is about missing men and leftover women.' 

Professor Geeta Nargund, medical director of Create Fertility, said  the situation was echoed in Britain. 

‘It is something to celebrate that more women are going to university but, at the same time, when it comes to starting a family it seems there is now a societal problem with these women finding men at the same level of education,' she said. 

‘Women tell us frequently that they are freezing their eggs because the men they meet feel threatened by their success and so are unwilling to commit to starting a family together.'

In Western countries soaring numbers of women are freezing their eggs as an ‘insurance policy' to beat their biological clock. 

The latest study, presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Geneva, examined 150 women in the US and Israel, more than 90% of whom said they were not intentionally ‘postponing' their fertility because of their education or career.

Rather, they were ‘preserving' their fertility before their eggs ran low and they lost their chance to have a child, because they were single or without a man to marry.

The authors said female graduates, who outnumbered male ones and made up four-fifths of the study group, were unable to find educated men willing to commit to family life.

Professor Inhorn said: ‘Maybe women need to be more open to the idea of a relationship with someone not as educated. But also maybe we need to be doing something about our boys and young men, to get them off to a better start.'

© Daily Mail