Froze @ age 39
Cycle 1 Cycle 2
# retrieved: 20 # retrieved: 42
# frozen: 20 # frozen: 38
Why did you freeze your eggs?
After my last relationship ended when I was close to 39, I found that I was experiencing a lot of anxiety about whether I would find the right man before it became too late to have a biological child. I knew that I did not want to have a child on my own, which only increased my anxiety about my biological clock. Right before the New Year, I had dinner with
a friend who went through two IVF cycles at age 44. She encouraged me to go and at least talk to a doctor about freezing my eggs because of the many advances in technology in the past couple of years. There was a month span between making the appointment and actually seeing a doctor, so I began researching everything I could about egg freezing including the process, success rates, what may be covered by my insurance and how to finance what would not be covered by insurance. By the time of my appointment nearly one month later, I knew a pretty good amount, but there was still so much more to learn.
Oddly, I also felt depressed that I was going to such lengths to preserve my own fertility. In ways, it was a reminder that I was not where I thought I would be in life, despite the fact that I was also at the best point in my life in every other aspect.
What was the most difficult part of the process for you?
Different phases of the process presented different challenges. When I made the decision and began my research, I found conflicting information about whether egg freezing would be a viable option at my age. There was also a great deal of conflicting information on the cost of egg freezing (which varies by clinic). In addition to that, I spent countless hours on the phone trying to figure out whether my insurance would cover any of the costs. During the initial phase, I felt a mixture of excitement and fear of the unknowns of all of it. Oddly, I also felt depressed that I was going to such lengths to preserve my own fertility. In ways, it was a reminder that I was not where I thought I would be in life, despite the fact that I was also at the best point in my life in every other aspect.
Starting the injections brought on a completely different set of issues. My treatment was delayed for an additional cycle because I had ovarian cysts on my right ovary. My doctor explained that the injections had to be delayed because they would not be able to tell during the cycle what was a follicle (the sac that holds the egg) or what was a cyst. I was placed on birth control pills for one month and altered my diet (based on my own research regarding ovarian cysts, not anything my doctor told me). By the next cycle, the cysts had cleared and I was ready to start my injections. After beginning my injections, there was almost an instant change in the emotions I was experiencing.
Although I did not have severe mood swings, I cried very easily. If I laughed so hard I cried, I soon found myself sobbing uncontrollably for no reason at all. The physical side effects consisted mostly of bloating and a heavy feeling in my abdomen. By the time of retrieval, it was hard to sit, stand or walk fast, but I got through all of it with the help of my support system, and one friend in particular who very bravely did my final injection (the needle was large and scary to me) and patiently waited in the waiting room when they did my retrieval, then got me home.
Despite the complications post-retrieval after the first cycle, I went through a second cycle
How did the egg retrieval process go?
Egg retrieval was the easy part. I went in at 7:15 am and was home on my couch by 10:00 a.m. My ovaries felt lighter and a little less sore for the first day, but the days following proved to be difficult. I was unprepared for how things would be and what would happen to my body post-retrieval. During the first cycle, they retrieved 20 eggs (all 20 froze successfully). As it was later explained to me, all of the follicles contain estrogen, which can cause many issues later. I was very bloated and easily looked four months pregnant, gaining about five pounds in fluid in the seven days that followed. Many people described me as looking more round, but they also described me as “glowing” for some reason.
Regardless of how everyone else saw me, I felt miserable. I returned to the clinic due to sharp pain in my left side near my ovary and was told I had something called “kissing ovaries.” Kissing ovaries are caused when fluid builds up behind one ovary (my right) and pushes it into the other (my left). I was told to drink fluids that contained sodium and potassium (Gatorade and coconut water) to decrease the fluid build up. My doctor also told me that most of what I was experiencing would resolve in the few days following my visit and definitely after my period. I was back to myself and in my regular size within three weeks. Despite the complications post-retrieval after the first cycle, I went through a second cycle in which my doctor retrieved 42 eggs (38 froze successfully). The second cycle was easier emotionally because I knew what to expect. Physically, although I did not experience any complications post retrieval, it took approximately two months to get back down to my regular size.
Several things have changed since freezing my eggs. I no longer feel panic or anxiety about whether I will be able to have a biological child, which translates into not feeling any panic or anxiety to find the right man to marry and have children with before my biological clock expires. The best way I can really describe it is to say that it feels like someone has taken a ticking time bomb off of my body, then handed me an insurance policy in the form of 58 frozen eggs. Although I was strong before doing this, I feel even stronger now.
What would you tell women considering egg freezing?
Know your support Once I made the decision to go through with it, I was very selective about who I told because it seemed so private to me, and still does in a way. There was not one person on my “in the know” list that would not have picked up the phone at all hours of the day or night, or supported me in any way that I needed at the time, whether it was help with injections, a good laugh or cry, a hug or a distraction to get me focused on something other than what I was doing. I also worked with a therapist before, during and after both cycles. Although therapy may not be helpful for everyone, I found it beneficial to have someone to process my feelings with.
Gather as much information as you can on the front Dealing with financing, insurance and fertility pharmacies can be time consuming. In regard to medications, if they are not covered by your insurance, the price of medication will vary drastically from pharmacy to pharmacy. It is worth time time to call each pharmacy (my clinic gave me a list) to get the best possible price. You will also need all of your medications long before you start your cycle, therefore, find out how to get them and plan your cycles around when everything is in order.
Listen to your body and pay attention to your When you begin to feel the medications working (and you will), your body will tell you what its limits are. I’m not a doctor, but having gone through it, I tried to stay as in tune with what was going on as much as possible and give my body a break when it needed it. In regard to your emotions, allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling. Although it’s easy to blame the hormones for your emotions, sometimes they have nothing to do with what you are feeling.