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That Time I Froze My Eggs

I wish more people talked about this, so here I go. I decided to freeze my eggs when I was 32 – I was out of training, single and dating, and surrounded by girlfriends having kids. I knew I wanted children of my own but didn’t know when that would happen, and then I saw a social media post about a 38-year-old with premature ovarian failure, and that was reason enough for me.

The initial consultation was pretty easy; it included labs, a vaginal ultrasound (during my period to count follicles), and a doctor’s visit. The OB went through my numbers and said they were normal for someone in the 30 to 35-year-old age range, which meant my chances of a successful pregnancy were upwards of 90% if I could get 20 eggs. I remember her saying that this age range was ideal, because younger women tended to use their eggs less, and older women tended to have lower yields.

The hormones for egg freezing are the same as for IVF: two shots a day for a few days, and then three shots a day, for a total of two weeks. The first week I went in twice for labs and ultrasounds, and the second week, every other day. And then, based on follicle size and number, they told me when to trigger, and I had my harvest procedure 36 hours later.

I was worried about how I would feel on the hormones, but I was actually fine – a little tired, a little bloated, not any worse than the usual premenstrual symptoms. I remember my estrogen levels went up to five thousand-something, which I believe is comparable to second trimester pregnancy levels. And I was surprised to learn that the timing is less than exact: I was supposed to have my harvest on a Sunday but ended up getting called in the Friday before. Because I needed someone to drive me, and all my friends have day jobs, my mom had to fly in last minute to literally hold my hand.

The actual procedure was easy – yay, propofol! Afterwards I had some cramping and abdominal pain for a few hours, about a 5/10 on the pain scale, and then a dull ache for two days. Tylenol and heating pads were helpful; I did not need to use my Norco.

The serious complication rate for this procedure is pretty low, about one in 5000ish. My practice told me they would not implant after 51 years of age, and my OB pointed out that some people use their frozen eggs for secondary infertility (which is the inability to get pregnant after previously giving birth).

I completed two cycles and got nineteen eggs for a total cost of about $21,000, which I think is consistent with other women’s experiences. Additionally I pay $600 a year to store my eggs, and apparently it will not cost me anything to discard them.

Overall, I am glad I did it. It was definitely an investment, the shots got mildly painful partway through, and the date change in the first cycle was stressful. But, when I weigh all of that against the mental angst I felt about nearing 35 (and everything people say about advanced maternal age), it was unquestionably the right decision for me. I hope this clears up some of the mystery around egg freezing; I believe it is important to talk about this option openly, and I am always happy to chat more if that would be helpful.

Author: Lakshmi S. Tummala, MD, FACC

Lakshmi S. Tummala, MD, FACC

Lakshmi is a staff cardiologist at the DC VA Medical Center, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Georgetown and George Washington Universities. She is passionate about women in medicine and excited to share her thoughts and experiences as she navigates the novel opportunities and accompanying challenges of an early career. Any views or opinions expressed in this blog are hers alone, and sharing resources does not equal endorsement.


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