They say that "worry often gives a small thing a big shadow." However, it is a significant thing when it comes to concerns regarding a woman's fertility, causing her to consider oocyte cryopreservation. This scientific terminology is a big word that describes freezing the eggs. So, how do you find yourself making an appointment with a fertility center? Well, first, let us understand the basics that can lead to a woman freezing her eggs.
A girl comes into this world with around one million eggs in her ovaries, and they gradually decrease as she gets older, ultimately ending in menopause. Aside from age, medical conditions and treatments may cause the eggs to reduce significantly due to Premature Ovarian Insufficiency (POI). It is at this stage that a doctor may advise you to consider preserving your eggs by freezing them. Oocyte cryopreservation involves extracting the eggs from the ovary and freezing them for a possible future pregnancy.
Now, I am not saying that every woman out there should freeze her eggs. The conditions I mentioned above may lead you to consider preserving your eggs. Nevertheless, the ultimate choice of whether to freeze your eggs or not is up to you. I decided to freeze my eggs because of worrying about my age and possibly risking my opportunities of having a biological child. I heard my biological clock tick, and three years ago, I decided to take charge of my fertility’s future.
I was 27 years old at the time, single, and not ready to be a parent. Yes, that was quite a young age for such thoughts, I know. Nonetheless, I was aware of the fact that my eggs would decrease in quantity and quality over the following years. I did not know anyone around me who had undergone the procedure, and the whole experience was both terrifying and fascinating. I had my mother and my best friend's help and support through it all, as it can be quite an isolating experience. So, how did it go?
First, I spoke to my gynecologist about my concerns, and he referred me to a fertility center. You would think that because it is my decision and my body that I get to do as I want, right? That is not correct at all. All readers are encouraged to consult their physicians before making any choices or following through with any procedures. Thereafter, I went to the center, and the doctor took details from me regarding my sexual history, periods, and general health. He then gave me all the information about the egg freezing procedure, from retrieval to the freezing, and took an initial test to gauge my egg quality and supply.
He started by checking my hormones and the number of eggs in my ovaries by taking a blood test and performing a transvaginal ultrasound, respectively. It may sound scary, but you do not have to worry as it is a bit uncomfortable but not painful. He used the results from the feedbacks to approximate my chances of preserving my eggs successfully and in preparing the stimulation protocol. However, you should note that the number given does not always mean that you will get eggs close to that number. I got an estimate of fifteen to twenty eggs, but they ended up retrieving twelve eggs, of which only nine were worth freezing.
Retrieving the group of eggs requires you to inject some medication that will stimulate the oocyte growth. The doctor showed me how to mix and prepare the four essential medicines, and the areas to inject them on my body. I went to the doctor on the second day of my period as scheduled. I had a blood test again and an ultrasound to check on my follicles. I got the green light to start the medication, which would last for twelve days. Personally, that was one of the scary aspects of this procedure because I am not particularly fond of needles. The trigger shot uses a larger needle compared to the other medications, and one of the medicines, Menopur, did burn a bit.
Nonetheless, I went on to inject myself on my lower abdomen and outer thigh areas every night. I may not be a doctor, but I became somewhat of an injection expert by the fifth night. As the cycle neared its end, my lower abdomen and thighs were sore, and I was running out of places to inject. I was so grateful for my mother and best friend’s presence during these injections because you can feel so alone when doing it on your own. During the medication, I also visited the center every other day to monitor egg growth.
In the end, the doctor extracted twelve oocytes, and after laboratory tests, only nine were viable for freezing. I was under sedation during the retrieval process that took 20 minutes to complete and was a little sore for around two days after that. I ended up doing two more cycles that produced 10 and 12 quality eggs, meaning I have 31 frozen oocytes. I must say that while the process was worth it, it was quite expensive, especially as I did not use any insurance coverage. The extraction and freezing fees and the medication costs are high, so you need to prepare well financially before starting the procedure. You can organize a plan, get partial or full coverage, and avoid paying as much as I did.
During the entire process, I only missed work once, which was on the day of extraction after which I resumed my usual routine. My shots were convenient for me as I administered them nightly, so depending on your schedule, you may need to make some adjustments. If you love to exercise, you will also have to forget about that during the entire process, as it may cause ovarian torsion. This complication requires surgery to set right the twisted ovary.
I am glad I decided to freeze my eggs because I do not have to worry about losing the chance to have biological children. I know there is a stigma around cryopreservation, but believe me, there is nothing wrong with wanting to take care of your future by protecting your fertility. Should you decide to take this path, egg freezing is undoubtedly a practical, valid, and worthy choice. However, I just want to encourage you to consult their physicians before making any choices or following through with any procedures.