Apple and Facebook will pay female employees up to $20,000 to help cover the cost of freezing their eggs.

The idea is to enable women who want to continue focusing on their careers without sacrificing their chance to have children later on.

NBC News reports that Facebook recently began its program and that Apple will start paying employees who want to freeze their eggs in January.

Known as oocyte cryopreservation, egg freezing is a process by which a woman extracts and stores her eggs so that they can be reinserted into her uterus at a later date, allowing her to have children during a time when she might otherwise be infertile.

Scientific advancements have made the process increasingly successful in recent years, with a 2006 study finding that fertility rates using frozen eggs were comparable to those achieved using fresh ones.

Most women go through menopause in their late 40s or early 50s, and according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, one-third of couples where the woman is 35 or older have fertility problems.

The time period during which women approach declining fertility is seen as prime work years for women hoping to advance in their careers, and many professional women consider the process a means of hitting pause on their desire to have a family.

According to a Businessweek cover story on the topic, a 2013 NYU study found that out of 183 women who froze their eggs, 19% said they might have had children earlier if their employer was more flexible.

Given Silicon Valley's noted lack of women in power positions, offering employees money for this costly procedure--it's $10,000 for every round of frozen eggs and an additional $500 annually for storage--could help lure top female talent.

NBC reports that Facebook and Apple are the first major employers to offer egg freezing coverage for non-medical reasons.

--This story first appeared on Business Insider.