Updated: Jul 25
Hello, curious minds and fellow egg-venturers! Today, I'm excited to share my experience of freezing my eggs as a woman who's uncertain about parenthood. So, fasten your seatbelts, and I'll take you through the highs, lows, and even the hilarious moments of my egg freezing journey – from the initial decision-making process to the hormone injections and everything in between.
But before we dive in, please remember that my story is unique to me and my medical history. Everyone's situation is different, so it's essential to talk to a healthcare professional for personalized advice.
Anything But Maternal
Growing up, I always imagined a future with children. Well, not exactly babies or toddlers, but rather adult children (can we call them that?). I always pictured them in high school or college. I never even thought about the twelve plus years that come before that!
I'm more of the cool, wine drinking "aunt" who dishes out dating advice to teenagers and stays up to date. on the latest high school gossip. Babysitting and entertaining toddlers isn’t really my thing. But hey, dreams can change, and perhaps one day my perspective will too.
So, when my friend from the States mentioned she was freezing her eggs, my interest was piqued. I realized it was more common than I thought and even though I was leaning towards the no-kids camp, I decided to explore the option. After all, there's yet to be a way to magically teleport a teenager out of my body, and considering the potential for changing values and the absence of a partner, it seemed worth considering.
So, what exactly is egg freezing?
Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, lets you preserve your eggs for the future. The process involves stimulating the ovaries, retrieving the eggs, preparing them for freezing, and then storing them until you're ready to use them.
But nothing is guaranteed. Success rates vary, and the quantity, quality, or effectiveness of the frozen eggs cannot be assured. Regardless of the outcome I had decided to only do this process once, but friends of mine have gone through it multiple times.
Choosing the Right Clinic
(Note that everything I am sharing is specific to my experience in The Netherlands)
Finding the right clinic is crucial for a smooth egg freezing experience. After doing some research, I chose TFP Fertility clinic in Leiden, the Netherlands. Great staff, shorter waiting list, and all of their information was available in English – perfect!
Let me give you some advice: if you're even remotely considering egg freezing in The Netherlands, get on a waitlist pronto. In Amsterdam, the waiting list is around 18 months and in Leiden, it's about 5-8 . There's no obligation, and the initial intake, transvaginal ultrasound, and blood check are free. So as Nike would say, if you are even considering it... Just do it.
Now let's talk costs. Egg freezing expenses vary globally. In the US, the procedure can cost upwards of $12,000, while in the UK, it's around £8,000. In the Netherlands, my entire process cost approximately €3,000 (including transportation to and from Leiden six times). Additionally, there's a yearly storage fee for the frozen eggs, which is €150 in the Netherlands, and as a reference point, a friend of mine in the states is paying $720 a year for her storage.
Since proactive egg freezing is considered an elective procedure, it was not covered by my insurance. But definitely check with your insurance provider, as some policies may cover it based on your situation. Some companies also offer fertility benefits (I'll save getting into the controversial opinions over this for another day!), so it's worth exploring those options too.
Step one: Diving into the unknown
Here. We. Go. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the fertility clinic were couples. Everywhere. My singleness hit me like a brick in a way I didn't expect and it made me feel lonely and a little green with envy. But no time for dwelling; I was quickly called in for my intake appointment involving blood work and a transvaginal ultrasound to check my follicle count. Undergoing the first ultrasound was WILD. It provided a glimpse into a natural process that I have little control over, and it was both fascinating and humbling. I was a little nervous too!
After the initial appointment, two follow-ups are scheduled. The first to get my results from the blood work and another one to start the procedure. Your doctor will determine the appropriate timing based on your menstrual cycle. If you have an IUD or a spiral like I did, I learned that you could keep it in during the process (PHEW!) and because I don’t menstruate due to my IUD/Spiral it meant I could begin the process at any time.
Let the hormones begin
The hormone injections typically last between 10 to 14 days. In my case, I was given two types of hormones (Gonal and Fyremadel). For the first four days, I had to administer one injection in my belly, followed by two injections for the rest of the process. Keeping up with the precise timing of these injections was essential, but I had the clever idea of using a travel ice pack to stay mobile in the evenings.
Speaking of the ice pack, let me share a comical yet slightly panic-inducing moment I had at the pharmacy. When I collected the injections, the pharmacist informed me that one of them needed refrigeration. She casually asked if I drove to Leiden by car, to which I replied with a slightly nervous "no, is that a problem." Her response left me SHOCKED, "well...too difficult to say." Seriously?! (for those who live in The Netherlands this was about as 'Dutch' of a response as you could get 😂). I had invested so much in this procedure, and now I was envisioning my precious medications overheating on one of the hottest days of the summer. Panic mode activated!
Racing back to Amsterdam, I ran through a series of misadventures involving buses, trains, and a chaotic grocery store visit in search of ice (not the most rational move, I admit). Eventually, I made it home, frantically dumping everything into my fridge. It was only then, after a reassuring call from a friend, that I realized there was no need to panic in the first place.
Now, let's talk about the dreaded first injection. As someone who dislikes needles, I was really nervous about it. But much to my surprise, it turned out to be super easy and virtually pain-free. Having someone there for moral support (and to translate the dutch instructions) during the first injection was comforting, and I was touched by the countless friends who offered to FaceTime me.
Now! For some things I didn't realize before going into this process:
Limited Physical Activity: During the egg freezing process, strenuous physical activities, including yoga and exercises that involve twisting the abdomen or uterus, should be avoided. Only walking and easy cycling were permitted in my case, so my daily commute became my exercise routine.
No. Sex! It never crossed my mind, but with the hormonal injections, you become extra fertile and given my usual "yoga-like" moves in the bedroom, I had to temporarily refrain from certain activities. It's a minor sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, but boo!
Emotional Rollercoaster: It's highly likely that you'll experience at least one meltdown during the process. By the fourth day of injections, I turned into a hormonal disaster, questioning whether I had made mistakes or if forgetting to take optional Folic acid had ruined everything (it didn't). I even worried if an enthusiastic blow job I gave was too strenuous! Fortunately, having a small support group of girlfriends who have been through this process before helped me tremendously. Plus, having a quick-responding clinic made all the difference.
Monitoring the process
Seven days after starting the hormonal injections, I had a follow-up appointment at the clinic. During this visit, my follicles were checked for quantity and size. I was relieved to hear that I was progressing well and was advised to come back for one more ultrasound before scheduling the extraction.
The trigger shot
36 hours prior to the extraction, I gave myself two trigger shots. This hormonal shot "triggers" the maturation of your eggs so that they can be captured during the egg retrieval procedure.
Ok...let's be honest. I didn't think much about the procedure before going in for it. So my freakout moment didn't occur until they went to insert an IV. Thankfully, the nurses were very patient with me.
Once in the operating room, the comforting hug of morphine quickly prevented any pain. The doctor talked me through the entire five-minute procedure, or at least tired to as I definitely sounded drunk from the drugs. After the surgery, I was brought to a recovery room and monitored for pain.
Eventually, the doctor called me in and shared the results – the number of eggs retrieved and how many were viable for freezing. Then a friend (bless her!) picked me up and took me home. Which was great, as I could barely walk.
Recovery and Post-Procedure
This is something EVERYONE experiences differently. While some feel completely fine after the procedure and can even return to work the same day, my recovery was not as smooth as I expected. Immediately after the operation, I blasted off triumphant messages proclaiming that the procedure had been easy and successful. However, as the drugs wore off, intense pain set in, serving as a stark reminder that my vagina had been punctured multiple times.
And now for the bloating! I finally started to understand why people say you bloat when freezing your eggs. Although it only looked like I ate a large meal before the procedure, it hit me afterward. My body was extremely distended and uncomfortable. To manage it, I chugged coconut water, electrolytes, and water as if there were no tomorrow. My hot water bottle became my BFF, as did chocolate ice cream :). The discomfort from cramps and bloating persisted for four days, so I took it easy.
Fatigue was another surprise. The procedure left me utterly exhausted. This fatigue lasted for four full days, but by the fifth day, my energy levels returned to normal, and the pain subsided.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, I found out you STILL cannot have sex. Granted, for the first four days, I had no energy or desire for it anyways, but I like to complain about it none the less. Luckily my doctor said after a week, I can have sex with a condom. I am Vanillacooldance after all ;) This advice may vary depending on the doctor or country, so make sure to check with them for specific guidelines. But seriously, is it too much to ask for a little post-procedure celebration?
Dating & egg freezing
Now, let's talk about dating while going through the egg freezing process. Should you tell the people you're dating? I found egg freezing to be an incredible conversation starter about children in a zero-pressure setting. It's something you're doing independently and for your own reasons. I enjoyed bringing it up and it was a great way to gauge potential partners' reactions. Plus, the hormonal and body changes during the process can be challenging, so having support from your partner or potential partners is really nice.
Three weeks have passed, and the entire experience feels like a distant memory. Would I recommend going through egg freezing? Absolutely! I'm 100% back to normal and I'm genuinely glad I went through with it.
However, in all honesty, my personal feelings about it are somewhat indifferent. Many people express relief and pride after undergoing a successful procedure, but for me, it's more complex. While I am pleased that I made this decision, as it gives me time and options, it is also confronting. It solidifies my preferences for forming bonds with older kids and only reinforces my uncertainty about having children.
In conclusion, the choice to freeze my eggs is a result of the privilege of having options. I'm aware of the abundance of privilege I possess both financially and because my body can undergo such a procedure. I know that this option is not viable for many, and I want to extend my love to anyone struggling with fertility.
Nonetheless, I believe in the importance of candidly sharing my story. Although I lean towards being child-free by choice, egg freezing empowers me to shape my future, whether it involves starting a family or not.
The decision is yours to make, and I hope my story can provide some helpful insights on your journey! P.S. I would love to hear if you liked the blog!
📚 Along with my story, here's a curated list of empowering books to explore:
Olive by Emma Gannon
Motherhood by Sheila Heti
Childfree by Choice by Amy Blackstone
Selfish, Shallow, and Self-absorbed by Meghan Daum
What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding by Kristin Newman