Invest in your future - Should you place all your eggs in one basket?
As a thirty something woman living in the UK, I grew up in an age of girl power; where girls were taught they were equal to boys. This inspiration upbringing led to a generation of career-minded young ladies, who were afforded the choice to place their future happiness and success ahead of the more conventional life of getting married and starting a family. This is referred to as a “social” reason for oocyte cryopreservation (aka fertility preservations) and ladies, whatever you chose – there is no judgement here.
I too went from concentrating on ballet grades to grades at school and university, then jumping onto the treadmill of the steep career ladder. While I enjoy my job, unfortunately I’ve had to sacrifice life to prove that I am just as good as the boys club around me, if not better. And while building this independent woman lifestyle, jet-setting around the world living my best YOLO life, my body had a plan of its own.
There are reasons why women choose to freeze their eggs: some of us develop medical conditions or are predisposed to certain medical illnesses which means we may be eligible to freeze your eggs before chemotherapy or radiation reduces your fertility; some of us choose to donate eggs to those who cannot conceive conventionally; and some choose to harvest their eggs because they are uncertain they want children or do not feel ready to have them.
Planning Your Options
We have all spent the last year battling with the covid-19 pandemic, evidence that the future is unpredictable, bearing this in mind we should plan ahead and prepare for our unknown futures or unknown health conditions which should be factored in. Well ladies, the clock is ticking faster and faster… the following info is for all of you who want a bitesize of knowledge to understand what is involved in freezing your eggs – so you can bank on your career first and plan for a family later, before our time runs out.
If we are diligent about where we go to school, which extracurriculars are best, whether we should become fluent in a second or third language…why is it that when it comes to something as life-altering as our fertility and potentially starting a family we are less considered and leave it to chance. Ladies, we are smart and forward-thinking – play the odds, put some eggs in your bank and do so, sooner rather than later.
Freezing eggs when you’re younger in your mid-20s to early thirties significantly increases your chance to have a family later on in life. Currently, the common age to freeze eggs is 38 yet the most common age to seek using their eggs is 40. Evidence illustrates that where eggs are frozen before aged 35, the chances of success is higher using frozen eggs than natural conception rate as women get older. If we plan ahead and freeze our eggs prior to our early 30s, this will significantly increase our chances of a successful outcome.
STEP 1 - First consultation appointment (60 minutes)
At this first meeting, your doctor will take your medical history and explain the following process.
STEP 2 - Initial testing (30 minutes) On day 2-3 of your cycle
With the assistance of an ultrasound and lab tests doctors can estimate the number of eggs which may be retrieved during the cycle. Based on this result, a doctor can ascertain how many retrieval cycles are needed.
STEP 3 - Review Your Results (30 minutes) 2 to 3 Weeks Later
Having reviewed the results, a doctor can more accurately provide you with the cost of the process.
STEP 4 - Fertility shots
You will need to learn how to self-administer your fertility shots – your consultant may demonstrate this during a meeting or you can attend a short course.
STEP 5 - Taking medication (10-12 days) On day 2-3 of your cycle
- On day 2-3 of your cycle, you will start fertility medication / shots – this will help to overstimulate the ovaries with the intent of getting a good number of viable eggs;
- For the next 10-12 days, you will visit the clinic every other day – so that they can test your response to the medication;
- Once your doctor determines that your eggs have reached maturity, they will schedule an appointment to harvest your eggs; and
- The doctor will administer a “trigger shot” which helps release eggs from the follicle wall for retrieval.
STEP 6 - Retrieval (60 minutes) 36 hours later
After 36 hours from receiving the trigger shot, you will be placed under general anesthesia for the retrieval process. The doctor will “use an ultrasound-guided needle to aspirate your egg follicles and suction the eggs to be frozen” and for the remainder of the day you will rest from the anesthesia in the recovery room.
STEP 7 - Recovery (4-5 days) after retrieval
Following the retrieval process, you will need to rest for the next 4-5 days – as you may experience discomfort, bloating and soreness.
STEP 8 - Your egg portfolio
Your doctor will assess whether enough viable eggs were retrieved from your first round of harvesting. Further rounds of the egg retrieval process may be necessary and it is recommended to wait two to three months before starting the next round – to generate more eggs.
STEP 9 - Freezing your assets
Once a sufficient number of viable eggs have been successfully harvested – they will be flash frozen using the vitrification allowing the eggs to be safely stored in the Clinic in liquid nitrogen.
STEP 10 - Starting a family
- Once you decide to use your eggs, schedule an appointment at your Clinic to arrange to have your eggs defrosted;
- The thawing process hardens the layer surrounding the eggs so it is recommended to inject the eggs with sperm using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (the ICSI method);
- The fertilised egg(s) is then observed in the laboratory; and
- The embryos are transferred into the uterus – hopefully leading to full term and healthy pregnancy.
Invest in your future
- The process of freezing your eggs can be timely and requires both planning, patience and sufficient finance.
- Yet this process allows women to invest in themselves, and as such provides us with the comfort that for the following ten years you will have a greater chance to achieve a pregnancy if you choose to.
- It is for this exact reason that companies in the USA are now offering women the ability to freeze their eggs as a part of their benefits package, so women have a greater choice of deciding how their future will look.
- Diversify your options and give yourself the choice and the best possible chance – invest in your future.
- Fertility Network
- Why Egg Freezing Can Help Your Dating Life, by Sarah Elizabeth Richards
- Egg Freezing – A Summary Of The Recent UK (HFEA) Guidelines, By Irfana Koita, Director, IVF Mattersst
- Egg Freezing: A Step By Step Timeline, Pregnantish, Danielle Page
- Serena H. Chen, MD, Member of Progyny’s Medical and Scientific Advisory Board