By Jessica Calef
Here at Milx, we field questions from women at every stage of their fertility journey. No matter where you’re at in your family planning, it’s never too early (or late!) to take control of your personal health.
Thinking of freezing your eggs? Milx family member Morgan Calef recently went through the process after contemplating it for years. Below she shares the top 7 things she learned through freezing her eggs and why it left her feeling empowered.
Being 34 and single, my biological clock really made an appearance this year. I had actually started to think about freezing my eggs a few years ago, but always had an excuse to push it off - mostly I didn’t know how to fit it in with a busy work/travel schedule, and was turned off by the financial commitment to something that might not even work. And while having to go into a doctor’s office 10+ times and have a procedure during COVID definitely wasn’t ideal, working from home made this whole process soo much easier. No one even had to know (unless I wanted them to) and I could be bloated in sweatpants in the comfort of my apartment.
Before starting the process, I tried to do as much due diligence as I could before picking a clinic - I listened to podcasts, read a gazillion articles.. there’s so many options in NYC that I could have kept debating where to go for weeks, but I finally bit the bullet and made an appointment for a consultation at Kindbody. And from there, it all kind of happened quickly... but here are some things I learned along the way incase this helps anyone on the fence and/or anyone just looking for some more information or real life experiences:
1. Your fertility is addressed on a need to know basis, and you need to proactively look into your own. Gynecologists mostly focus on everything but (pap smear, breast exam, pelvic exam, etc.) even though your fertility can be checked so easily with an ultrasound and bloodwork. So unless you’re trying for a baby, or having problems getting pregnant, you really don’t know what your situation is. After my initial ultrasound and bloodwork at kindbody, they told me I had PCOS, which I didn’t know (even though makes total sense given my history) but my gyno never told me that. I probably need a new gyno...
2. The number one factor in fertility is age. Even though this one is obvious, I didn’t know how drastically your egg count drops around 35-36-37. At 34 and a half, my doctor said “the half was good” and to not wait any longer. That was scary to hear, but also a kick that I needed to just get this over with and stop putting it off.
3. The injections are not so fun but every day I got a little better at them. For 12 days, I was taking hormone medications and giving myself injections. I didn’t know I would be doing 3 injections a day and/or that I would be mixing my own medications. The nurses gave me tutorials and I watched a video almost every night to make sure I wasn’t completely effing up, but I kept thinking how much room there is for error and would freak myself out that I did something wrong. And they hurt (despite everyone telling me they don’t), but I was so proud every night when it was over, I would send my family group text an announcement with many emojis. Kindbody also had a WhatsApp line that you can call/message 24/7, which I sure did several times!
4. I was not the norm when it came to side effects. Almost every article I read - and all the pamphlets from the clinic - say the side effects are minimal, and you can essentially carry on with your daily life as normal. That was not the case for me. On the downside, I was INSANELY bloated, very tired, my boobs hurt, I had weird cravings, I had a few emotional meltdowns, etc. On the plus side, my hair was the thickest it’s been in my whole life, and I’ll forever miss those blessed 12 days of liking my hair and not having to wash it every day <3 After the procedure, it also took me a while - about 2 weeks maybe - to recover, when again all the literature says you’ll be back up and running the day after. It took a while for my ovaries to go back to normal size and I think I was more bloated after the retrieval than I was taking the hormones. It was hard to walk, hard to find a comfortable position sleeping, and also hurt when I had to pee because my ovaries had moved and were pushing on my bladder. I ended up having to go back to the clinic 3 or 4 times after the retrieval to get follow up ultrasounds and bloodwork, which is not the norm. Obviously everyone is different, and this was just my experience, but I felt a little like the side effects are downplayed and I wish I would have been more informed about the possibilities, so then when they happen you’re not freaked out and think something is wrong.
5. You find out how many eggs you got immediately after the procedure. The actual process of extracting the eggs only takes about 15 minutes, and you are put under for it. It feels very scientific, with the endocrinologist (who was a man in my case but my surgeon was a woman yay) there ready to analyze and freeze your eggs immediately. When I woke up, they told me how many eggs they extracted, and a few hours later, how many were able to be frozen. It was really emotional too, hearing how many they were able to get after this whole process. I feel really lucky and pleased with the number I got; I kept thinking how so many women go through this over and over and get one or zero and how heartbreaking that must be. After you put your body through so much, it’s definitely emotional.
6. It’s not an “insurance policy” but I do feel like I have a small safety net. I have no idea what will happen with these eggs - I might never use them and get pregnant naturally (and then, the eggs would be donated to science), I might try to use them and none of them are viable. There’s no guarantee, but at least I have somewhat of a “back-up option” now, which feels really good.
7. I have no regrets. Even though the whole process was a lot, I would do it again 1000%! I’m so happy and proud of myself I did it finally after years of thinking about it and pushing it off. And I may end up doing it again, pending what my situation is in a year from now. Especially now that I know what to expect, I’m sure the second time around would be easier. My only regret is that I wish I did it when I was younger and then maybe I would have gotten more (and better quality) eggs, but at least I did it now.
Morgan wanted to share her experience to normalize egg freezing and to let women know that they can be proactive about their fertility health regardless of what life stage they’re at. If you want to learn more from Morgan about her experience, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*If you are interested in exploring your fertility, please consult with your OBGYN.