24th May 2013 | by MFC Team
Giving myself more time to have kids: My decision to freeze my eggs
Hi, my name is Tracy. I was recently accepted to do my doctorate overseas in the UK. It’s a dream come true! I have always wanted to do a Ph.D. and the timing is right to go away to study for several years. I don’t have a partner, I’m eager for a change after being in my job for 7 years, and my friends are all starting to get married and have babies, something I’m not ready for yet. However, I’m also am aware that spending several years doing this degree is not the best timing in terms of my fertility. I’ve been hearing more lately about how a woman’s eggs are “as old as she is”! In my case that means that my eggs are currently 32 years old. Doing the math, that means that by the time I finish my doctorate, my eggs will be 37 or 38! If I haven’t met the right guy yet, who knows how long it will be before I’m ready to have kids!?
The question that’s been weighing on my mind since I accepted the offer of admission is — what if by the time I’m ready to have kids it’s too late for me? So, never being someone who just throws caution to the wind and hopes everything will just work out, I started researching my options to test and possibly preserve my fertility. I started reading about how more women are deciding to freeze their eggs in order to give themselves an “insurance policy” – or a longer time to have a baby later, when they are more ready, using their own eggs. I researched this option on the Internet and learned that the technology has really improved so that they’re able to freeze and thaw the eggs more successfully these days. The “frozen” eggs can be used later, when the woman is ready. I even read that this is no longer considered an experimental procedure, which means it should be safe and effective. I spoke with my family doctor who said that a few of the fertility centers offered “social” egg freezing. That seemed like an odd term, but she said it is the terms they use when the egg freezing isn’t specifically for medical reasons. She also cautioned me that it is pretty expensive and that there were some risks in terms of the drugs I’d have to use so they could “harvest” my eggs. I had some money in my savings account and figured if I saved the $5 I spend every day on a latte that would help pay for the egg freezing procedure. I also knew that if necessary, I could likely borrow some money from my parents to help pay for the procedure if it meant they might get to be grandparents in the future!
When I met with the doctor at the fertility clinic he first tested my fertility to determine if freezing my eggs was even an option. It turns out my hormone levels were good, and I probably still had some healthy eggs to harvest and freeze. This was a huge relief! So I decided to go ahead with the egg freezing procedure. The procedure was more difficult than I had imagined. I had to take a couple of different hormones to force my ovaries to produce extra eggs. The hardest part was having to inject myself in my belly – given that I’m not great with needles at the best of times. Then after several ultrasounds and blood tests, when my stomach was bloated and I was beginning to feel like a pin-cushion, the docs decided it was time for the retrieval. On the day of the retrieval, I was really nervous, so my mom came with me and held my hand through the procedure. I have to admit it was a bit painful, but the extraction went well. They were able to retrieve and freeze 12 eggs.
I feel proud of myself for making this decision so that I can keep my options open in the future. I know that freezing my eggs doesn’t guarantee that I’ll be able to have a baby when I’m ready, but for now, the voice in my head that asks, what if by the time I’m ready it’s too late for me? has finally quieted down – just in time to leave space and energy for all of the new and exciting things I’ll be learning in my Ph.D.
To read more about social egg freezing, click here.
To read about another woman’s experience of freezing her eggs, click here.
Share your thoughts on Tracy’s story in the comments section below, or submit your own fertility story here.