I Should Have Frozen My Eggs. Here's Why.

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
May 21 2013 1:43 PM

I Should Have Frozen My Eggs

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A technician opens a vessel containing women's frozen egg cells

Photo by LEX VAN LIESHOUT/AFP/Getty Images

Sarah Elizabeth Richards makes a great case for why a stigma against egg freezing shouldn’t exist and why women who freeze their eggs are happier for doing so. I know about these fears because I did not freeze my eggs. Yes, I repeat, I did not freeze my eggs. That’s why at 42 years old, I’m involved in the long, painful process of in vitro fertilization.

So here I offer even more myth-dispelling reasons why egg freezing doesn’t have to be expensive, emotionally draining, or painful.

Misconception No. 1: Egg freezing is the same as IVF

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I think one of the biggest reasons most women don’t consider freezing their eggs is that they (me too, back then) do not understand the concept. We spend so much of our youth trying to avoid pregnancy, then we spend our 20s and 30s tuning out people who tell us that our clock is ticking. I think by the time we women reach an age when we might begin considering the process, we have an emotional block about hearing anything about it, which is basically this: Before you ovulate, a doctor retrieves your eggs with a syringe from your ovaries via your vagina. Then he puts the good ones in the freezer. (IVF will require you unfreezing them, adding sperm, and putting them in your uterus).

Misconception No. 2: Egg freezing is painful

You are under local sedation for retrieval. (If you have many eggs removed it can be general). The most I ever felt under local was a tiny pinch. Moreover, my clinic has a laser light show of stars floating across the ceiling, just in case I didn’t want to watch the ultrasound of the doctor fishing in my follicles to extract the eggs. They even play classical music. The whole process takes less than an hour—and that’s counting the part for the Valium to kick in. It’s easier than going to the dentist … and my father is my dentist, so I know of what I speak.

Misconception No. 3: Egg freezing is prohibitively expensive

I go to a holistic clinic where egg retrieval costs $1,200 and freezing another $1,000. That’s only $2,200 per round. My previous insurance did not cover the process, but it did cover the medication. My current insurance covers up to $10,000 worth of all fertility costs. Some people have $20,000 riders. Check your insurance and find a good but inexpensive clinic.

Misconception No. 4: It takes over your life

You can do the entire process in a period of three months. The first month you go to the clinic, meet the doctors, have some tests done, and plan for your period. The next month, you go to the clinic a few times for “monitoring”—they do blood tests and ultrasounds to prepare for your retrieval—and more frequently toward the middle of the month. Repeat the process the following month if you want to do another round.

Misconception No. 5: Medications will make you fat and hormonal

You will have to take medication and do injections for every cycle. But you’re only going to be doing this once or twice. So you might have some adverse affects from the medication—it’s more like a bad PMS. So even if you gain a few pounds or have a couple of crying jags, chances are, no one will notice. Just blame it on a bad breakup (with your eggs).

So, there you have it. Freezing your eggs is worse than PMS but better than a trip to the dentist and can be done in less than a season. It may be covered by insurance but it can run you less than a week-long spa vacation. Like Ms. Richards, I think women should consider it—single women without life partners in sight, busy women with no time for children, women who are not sure they want to have children. I had fit into all those categories—and if I had stored my 35-year-old eggs in the freezer, I might already be with child. 

     

Amy Klein writes the Fertility Diary column at the New York Times and blogs at In Vitro. Follow her on Twitter.

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