7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Freezing My Eggs
7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Freezing My Eggs: Here’s how much egg freezing costs, what it feels like, and a bunch of other things I learned while going through it.
If you’re considering egg freezing, here are the 7 things I wish I had known — and that you should consider — before taking the plunge.
Science is pretty f*ing amazing. The fact that egg freezing exists — that there is even the slightest chance that a tiny frozen oocyte floating around in a freezer somewhere in Midtown Manhattan might result in a healthy, human being 10 years down the line — is astounding.
That being said: the science behind all of it is still relatively new. The first reported pregnancy resulting from frozen oocytes was in 1986 — and only about 5,000 births from frozen eggshave been reported since. As such, reliable data around success rates is largely limited, confusing, and inconclusive at best.
According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), the chance that any given frozen egg will result in a baby (even when the mother is younger than 38) ranges from 2-12%. During the egg-collection process, hormone stimulation treatment is used to help patients produce more eggs than they would during a normal cycle, so that multiple eggs can be collected and frozen.
But even with a bounty of a baker’s dozen eggs or more (which would be considered a very successful round of egg collection and freezing) — the chances that the eggs will survive freezing, thawing, fertilization, and then result in a successful implantation and pregnancy are often very low. This is especially true for women who freeze their eggs after age 35; who are trying to get pregnant in their 40s; and who underwent treatment using an older, slow-freezing technique.
While fertility clinics note that recent studies show a 90+% survival rate of frozen eggs using a newer vitrification technique — that figure only accounts for the freezing and thawing part of the process. It says nothing about the likelihood of fertilization and a successful to-term pregnancy. (And as this heartbreaking story demonstrates — it is disappointment in those final stages that can be the most traumatic and agonizing.)
So — long story short: freezing your eggs is faaaaar from an insurance policy. The reality is, while you are giving yourself another (small) chance at having a child later in life — you shouldn’t count on it as a solid Plan B. It’s a Plan C at best — and a pretty stressful one at that
2. There will be blood. And needles. And DIY home chemistry involving strange solvents and powders and stuff that can all be very frightening. Prepare yourself.
If you’ve done any preliminary research, you know that the scariest part of this whole thing won’t be the egg retrieval procedure itself (though, to be fair, the idea of a needle traversing through your vagina and into your ovaries to slurp out a bunch of hormonally induced eggs will take a minute to get comfortable with.)
No — it’s the two weeks leading up to the procedure that the real fun happens. And by “fun” I mean a rigorous schedule of twice-daily, self-administered hormone injections that would make even the most practiced factory chicken tremble.
So I’m not going to sugarcoat this.
Waking up at the buttcrack of dawn every other day to get your blood drawn at a cold, depressing fertility clinic; shooting yourself with a syringe full of hormones twice every day (the moment you wake up and every night before you go to bed); feeling — and watching — as your ovaries swell to several times their normal size within the course of days — none of it is easy. It gets better after a couple of times, but those first few days will be scary (and for those with any discomfort around needles — straight up harrowing). And on top of all that — some of the medicine requires precise mixing of powders and solvents, temperature control, and timing. And if you mess up any one of those variables, it can be a big deal and ruin your whole retrieval cycle.
That being said: while by no means a piece of cake — it’s all doable. After the first couple of days, the shots become routine and the mixing and timing almost second-nature. You learn what tips and tricks work for you. For me, it was icing the area for your shots 10-15 minutes before each one, injecting the solution very slowly so as to make its entry into your system less shocking (and therefore less painful), and recording each shot location and timestamp in my notepad app to ensure I wasn’t missing doses and wasn’t shooting myself repeatedly in the same place. Truth be told: the shots themselves don’t really hurt that much. The needles are so thin and small they’re hardly painful. But wrapping your mind around all of it, and convincing yourself this is worth doing for 14 or so days, can be tough. That’s why it’s important to remind yourself that yes, this will suck —but it’s all tolerable with the right attitude, organization and discipline. I’m a total disorganized wimp, and I survived. So let that be an inspiration to you all!