What Nobody Tells You About Freezing Your Eggs, According To Women Who’ve Done It
If you want kids, but not yet or are not sure, some women see freezing their eggs, aka fertility preservation or oocyte cryopreservation, as a security blanket of sorts. The process has its benefits, especially if one’s not in a having-a-child mindset at the moment. Freezing their eggs can provide women with the option of having a baby (or more) down the line.
“As fertility MDs, girlfriends, and exercise enthusiasts, we have chatted with patients, friends, and ladies we meet on the shower line in the locker room about egg freezing — what they know, what they want to know, and what they wish they knew,” Dr. Jaime Knopman, co-founder of Truly, MD and Director of Fertility Preservation at CCRM New York, tells Bustle. “Hands down, this is the question that we are asked the most: ‘Will the eggs that I freeze today be good enough to make a baby in X number of years?‘ And, unfortunately, despite everything that we can do, answering this question accurately is not one of them. There is no way for any fertility doctor to predict whether the eggs that you make today will have what it takes to make healthy embryos in the future. Although we use factors such as age, follicle count, and hormone levels to guide us in guiding you, there is nothing out there that can answer your question definitively. However, when all else fails, look at your birth date. Simply stated, age trumps everything. The younger are when you freeze, the more eggs you will get and the better your chances are in the future.”
However, not all Millennials and women over the age of 40 are aware that the rate of conceiving a baby naturally has to do with age. Healthline recently released a fertility survey — the findings were based on a national sample of 1,214 Americans, age 18+, recruited from SurveyMonkey’s Contribute panel. The survey was conducted from March 30-April 2, 2017. It revealed that only 32 percent of Millennials are aware that 50 percent of people over the age of 35 will need medical intervention to have a baby, and there’s no guarantee they’ll be successful. Those over the age of 40 were not aware of the difficulty of conception in their age range, either — 11 percent guessed accurately that the vast majority in their age group, 90 percent, will need support. Healthline’s survey also found that over 53 percent of Millennial women said they would freeze their eggs.
Below, women who have gotten their eggs frozen reveal the one thing they wish they knew before doing so. While you may hear that some women experience mood swings from all the hormones, other women have other surprising side effects. As much prep as you and your doctor do, there’s bound to be something that comes up that you weren’t ready for, and these women want you to be prepared and in the know.
Amanda Bradford, Founder & CEO Of The League, 32
“The experience is quite emotionally draining and reflective — partly because of the huge syringes of hormones you’re injecting yourself with daily for two weeks, but also because you’re asked to grapple with crazy scenarios, like ‘Who would you give your eggs to if you were to die?’ — questions I would have never thought about before walking into the office. Going under for the actual removal was pretty crazy, too, as you get foggy and start speaking nonsense, wake up speaking nonsense, and, after a few hours, it’s over and your eggs are removed and already out of sight! I decided to go through with the treatment when I decided I wanted to invest in time — I wanted more time to make one of the most important decisions in my life and not to have fears of infertility creep in and potentially sway my decision-making. While the experience was intense, the peace of mind I got afterwards made up for it, hands down. Not only did I get peace of mind, I got time to reflect and think about the enormous decision of building a family with a partner and what I wanted that experience to be like in the future.”
“I am really open about my experiences with egg freezing and have recommended it to other young women. For me, the biggest thing I wish I had known is how tough it would be emotionally. The physical part was fine for me. Sure, I felt bloated and uncomfortable — it was like a bad period. Emotionally, though, I was a bit of a wreck. I tend to have strong reactions to hormones in particular, so being pumped up with an excess was hard — I cried a lot during this process. Little things would make me cry, and I had a total breakdown when I thought the whole process wasn’t going to work and I was only going to get a few eggs. I remember hysterically crying in my parking spot at work, feeling frustrated and upset. Even at the time, I knew my reactions were really heightened, but I couldn’t help it — the tears flowed so easily! That said, despite how hard it was mentally, I would do it again because, ultimately, it’s a short amount of time to protect your fertility.”
“Mistakenly, I was under the impression that I needed to remove my IUD for this procedure. My concern was that it would affect egg count/ovulation. If you have an IUD, you know that removal and insertion can be quite a headache. However, my doctor assured me that I did not need to do so. Egg freezing is a great option, and if you’re thinking about it, I would encourage you to do it. Leave alone everyone else’s story and think about your own. Hopefully, women can start to feel that they can be open about the challenges and expectations they face around fertility, and more and more women will start to see that it’s a great option to consider — especially if you have access to it and especially as technology gets more advanced. It’s not a silver bullet, but an insurance policy. That said, it’s not the science that will stop us, but the story we tell ourselves about it.”
“Although I was warned, the hormones really got to me — in a good way and in a bad way. I felt absolutely crazy with all the mood swings! (My poor friends and family!) But the hormones also made me want to have sex ALL THE TIME. So, my lucky boyfriend! I definitely don’t regret doing it, but just be prepared to feel crazy for a while!”
“If you want to stress yourself even more during this grueling process that is composed of: time management, mixing potions, and sticking yourself with needles… then add travel to the mix. It is a great experience to go to the airport with vials of clear liquid in a cooler and 50 billion needles. Some airports are totally used to it, but I would recommend having a doctor’s note and giving yourself more than ample time to get searched and felt up by security. I decided giving myself a shot wouldn’t be so bad. I hate flying, I hate packing, and I hate shots… so let’s combine them all together over Thanksgiving with the family. In 2015, I did just that. I started in Los Angeles with my pre-work and popping hormones and a round of shots, then flew to Chicago for Thanksgiving and more doctors and more shots to Minnesota to see Dr. Paul Kuneck, the founder of the Center for Reproductive Medicine, aka the Fertility Guru, for more shots and tests and to do the deed — get my eggs taken out of me and put on ice. Also, this is a hella costly procedure. Ask your doctor’s office, as there are less expensive options to get the drugs you need. Call up a slew of compounding pharmacies, too, and ask if you can use generic options. Set an alarm on your cell phone, your friend’s cell phone, your parents’ cell phones, and your watch… do not be late for your shot. Don’t beat yourself up if you only have three viable eggs or 32. It is out of your control. Just be grateful that this is an option for you to do.”
“I froze my eggs at 34. When I was 39, I tried to thaw those eggs out and use them. NONE of them thawed. It was a huge disappointment, and the statistics of live births from frozen eggs is not very good. It is getting better, but not very good. I am sure I was told that, but I wish I had really processed it. I have a daughter and was able to get pregnant naturally, but she has a genetic disease and we needed to do IVF to make sure we didn’t pass it down. It was just heartbreaking. I also only got seven eggs and you really need to have a large number — so if you don’t get a lot, you should do it again if you’re going to do it.”
“I froze my eggs when I was 31, mostly to try to help my sister. I donated half to her and froze half. It was not successful for her and she is still childless. I have been in two serious relationships since, but neither led to marriage and a family, and I am still single, so praising the Lord I did this! I’m definitely not banking on this, though, and it sometimes makes me feel a little better that I have back-up plan, but there is definitely no guarantee of it working. Also, I could have never afforded it if it was not for my sister and brother-in-law, who paid for it. It was their way of thanking me and putting my sister’s mind at ease that I would not have to go through the same heartbreak she (still) faces every day. They are getting stronger every day, but it is a process. Also, I had to do it twice to get to the retrieval. I went in the morning and I had plenty, and my levels looked good. Then, when they were supposed to call me to tell me to do the trigger shot [the last shot], my levels dropped and the whole cycle was, for lack of better terminology, shot to hell. It is an emotional roller coaster. The doctors said it was a fluke, but no one ever told us that this was a possibility. They said ‘this never happens’ — well, it did. We waited about four to five months before trying again, because my sister and her husband still wanted a baby and I still wanted to help and felt incomplete and like I would have regrets. The second was successful in the retrieval, but who knows what will happen down the road…”
Andi, Then-Mid 30s