Nancy’s Stats: Froze @ 34, # eggs retrieved: 17, # frozen: 16
What made you to start thinking about freezing your eggs?
It’s something I had thought about for quite a while I know I want kids, I know I’m not getting any younger, but at the same time I’m a career girl (lawyer). Also, I have a boyfriend and we have been together a couple of years now. We are serious, but he has yet to put a rock on my finger and you really just never know how relationships will pan out until/unless you have a commitment nor do you know how life in general will pan out.
A couple of years back, I was admitted to the ER with severe pains in my right side. It transpired that I had a large ovarian cyst. I had immediate keyhole surgery to remove it. There had been no guarantee that my right ovary would be saved, but it was saved albeit partially removed. From that point on, I always had thoughts at the back of my mind that falling pregnant later on might not be smooth sailing.
Over the last few years, I’ve also heard about a number of friends who have had trouble conceiving and/or miscarriages, as well as people who have fallen sick (cancer) and the treatment possibly affecting their fertility…all these things get one thinking…and I’m a pragmatic kind of person. Egg freezing is this daunting thing that I can imagine many people consider, perhaps look into by reading/researching a little, then put off to a later date, thinking….hhhmm, I’ll cross that bridge later down the line when I come to it…even if I am with my boyfriend and we stay together and try for kids, who’s to say it will be straightforward and will happen without hiccups? Another scenario is that I might have a first child, but find myself having trouble conceiving a second or even a third (as by then I will be that bit older)… much better to have my young eggs frozen in case of need…
There had been no guarantee that my right ovary would be saved, but it was saved albeit partially removed. From that point on, I always had thoughts at the back of my mind that falling pregnant later on might not be smooth sailing.
Why did you finally decide to freeze your eggs?
I currently live in Israel and a friend with whom I had often discussed the issue, did her research, found a well reputed doctor in Tel Aviv and went ahead with the process. My turn I thought why waste any more time? I got the doctor’s details and went for an initial consultation. Doc was impressed by how proactive I was and by my age, saying that sadly most women who went to him went at the point where they were already having problems or at an older age (38, 39 etc) by which time the egg quality is generally lower. He said people think of Madonna and 50 year old mothers to be in the press and think “wow! pregnancy…easy peasy…I have years ahead of me” but in reality he
told me the stats are drastically against women’s favor as they climb further into their thirties. He also said to me that in an ideal world every father should give their daughter the opportunity to freeze unfertilized eggs on her 30th birthday (he had no vested interest in this as although the procedure in Israel is expensive around 14,000NIS including total hormones, surgery and storage for 5 years with minimal further storage costs, the healthcare is nationalized rather than private so his time was effectively almost cost free to me). I made my mind up….why put off until tomorrow what can be done today? And why not freeze my 34 year old eggs rather than wait until they are older?
Tell us a bit about the procedure, how did you feel?
Being a wimp, I went for the option of nurses injecting me daily rather than self injection. I did not feel sad, tired, sick, stressed, anxious or emotional. Nor did I feel any discomfort or pain. The biggest pain were the daily injections, 2 daily blood tests and ultrasounds (and subsequent faxing of results to doc in time for him to amend med dosage and send through new instructions for the nurses).
In addition, there was also the time taken out of my day and the effort of having to trek to the medical centers, wait in line, etc. What did shock me though (at the clinics when waiting for blood tests and ultrasounds) was the sheer number of women there, all of them in their late 30s/early 40s, clearly going through IVF due to difficulties falling pregnant. The statistics were then so real and in my face and so sad! Would those women be there if they had known about/thought about and had the opportunity to freeze (their eggs) at an earlier age? Possibly not!
How did the actual retrieval go?
I had the retrieval procedure (under general anesthesia) at 7 am after about 2 weeks of daily injections. The whole procedure took 15 minutes and I was out of there by 8.30 AM and worked a full day that day with no physical or mental side effects. Doc confirmed after surgery that my right ovary (the one I had had surgery on a few years back) was not functioning/producing follicles so everything was down to my left. My left, on the other hand, seems functions well and of 17 eggs retrieved, 16 were suitable for freezing. That’s 16 from one ovary and one cycle of treatment RESULT! Doc was as impressed and pleased as was I.
What, if any, are your plans to use your frozen eggs?
I hope not to need to use my frozen eggs and I also know the chances of successfully having a child with them are still lower than natural pregnancy, however, aside from the cost and a little hassle, I see no disadvantage whatsoever in having frozen the eggs. I see them as a sort of insurance policy, as well as something that has freed up my mind about the worries of reaching mid-late thirties (or more) without yet having kids. The whole thing gives you some sort of release, comfort and peace of mind. I have recommended the procedure to a number of friends and am fairly vocal about it as there really is very little awareness out there about egg freezing. I hope it becomes more accessible to women all over and that more women consider it and go for it.