I had heard about people freezing their eggs but never fully understood what it entailed. I know a handful of women who have done it, yet after going through this experience, I’ve learned of so many more. Most of them are not as open about it. Is it weird to respond to a simple, “What’s new?” with “I’m freezing my eggs!” like I did the past few months? TMI? I don’t think so.
I think it’s awesome that egg freezing is an option allowing single (and some married) women to possibly delay pregnancy until it’s the right time for the individual, as opposed to when it’s expected by society, or more pressingly, by our biological clock. (Ugh, just that phrase alone, “biological clock,” makes me cringe.)
Like most things in life, you can plan, but it doesn’t mean things will go your way. When I first thought about freezing my eggs I was newly single. I was not at all interested in rushing into marrying the very next guy who showed interest just so I could stay on track to have a baby within the near future. My life felt a bit out of control, yet this felt like I was taking action to get some of that control back.
At a gynecologist appointment only a week after my breakup, in tears, I asked her, “Should I freeze my eggs?!” My gyno, who is very laid back, seemed to think at 33 years old I could still meet someone and given the cost factor–freezing your eggs is not cheap–it was worth waiting a bit more, maybe when I was 34 she said.
I had a friend who was in the process of freezing her eggs who told me it’s really not a big deal and that her insurance covered it. Then, I started asking people who knew exactly what they were talking about, two family members who work in the fertility field. As much as I’d hoped they’d say, “Nah, you’re still so young!” neither did. Both women thought it was a fantastic idea.
I even watched this clip from “The Doctors,” the show I’m currently working on, where a famous Beverly Hills gynecologist said she recommends it by 32! I mentioned it to a friend who had to use IVF for her pregnancy, and she was a huge proponent of me taking these steps now. So far, that’s zero votes for “don’t do.”
The cost was for me, and for most people I think should be, the biggest prohibitive factor. Without insurance, the procedure is about $10,000 and the cost of the medications could be close to that as well. That being said, I totally appreciate that I was privileged enough to do this and realize not everyone is as fortunate.
I checked with my healthcare provider and found that egg preservation, the insurance term for egg freezing, was covered up to 90 percent! I decided this was something I wanted to pursue. I had my initial consultation with a doctor at a reproductive center and the entire interaction put me at ease. I decided I was going to do it.
Even while I was going through this process I had a lot of questions. I was on this ride where I was manipulating my body in a crazy way. What exactly happens?
To put it briefly, from the time you start hormone injections to when you have the egg retrieval procedure is about 3-4 weeks. For many women who are on birth control, they have to stop taking it a few months prior to starting. In my case, because I already had a good amount of eggs, I only had to stop five days before.
You also will start taking supplements to prep your body, as if you were trying to get pregnant. (Want to freak a date out? Leave your prenatal vitamins on your kitchen counter.) Then, for about 10-14 days, you must give yourself a series of injections. Mainly, two in the evening, and then toward the end, you add another injection in the morning. Two days before your surgery you administer “trigger shots” at very specific times. Then, you will have the egg retrieval surgery.
It is an outpatient procedure, which actually only takes about 20-30 minutes. They administer general anesthesia through an IV so you feel no pain and are fully under during the retrieval. The doctor goes intravaginally into your ovaries and removes the eggs you have been growing.
About a day later, you will know the final count of how many of those eggs were mature, meaning they were viable for freezing. The doctor told me they hope to get around 8-10 for women around my age, and I got 16! This doesn’t really mean you have 16 potential babies but rather, if they were used as embryos in the future, it’s about a 25 percent chance of survival. Also, unlike Tinsley from The Real Housewives of New York, I was not shown a photo of my “babies.”
For a few days after the procedure, you will experience cramping. My cramps were uncomfortable for the first two days, but nowhere near unbearable. Once you get your period, which should happen 8-10 days after the procedure, you can resume a normal life. By this I mean, you can return to exercise, sex, and eating or drinking whatever the heck you want.
Throughout this experience, I kept waiting for things to happen. Waiting to pass out at the sight of the needle before giving myself an injection. (I notoriously get faint from thinking, seeing, or hearing about needles. In 5th grade, I passed out when the teacher drew one on the board!) I kept thinking I would start to feel crazy. Any day now I’ll be an emotional wreck due to the hormones. Soon my cramps are going to get really bad. Any instant I’m going to feel pain. Thankfully, none of that occurred.
I wanted to share my entire detailed experience with anyone who may be considering freezing their eggs. That is why I wrote out my day-to-day experience in “I Froze My Eggs and You Can Do It Too In 15 Easy Steps.” Warning: it’s long and you may need an Adderall to get through it. Personally, I think it’s a delightful read so click here!
While the thought of freezing your eggs may evoke strong emotions including some fear, I don’t think it needs to be this way. This journey can actually be a really exciting, confidence-boosting experience. I have no regrets. Freezing my eggs has helped me to feel really chill about my life. (Pun intended.)