Some individuals by no means have to consider their fertility. When the family-building a part of your life operates seemingly on autopilot, it’s straightforward to overlook how sophisticated it could possibly actually be. For these of us who should plan rigorously and depend on science to have our households, fertility is one thing we take into consideration quite a bit.
When you’re not fairly able to have a child, however you wish to preserve the choice out there for the longer term, your fertility actually takes middle stage, and it’s a must to make some intentional selections about the way you wish to proceed.
Alex Stewart, fat-positive Chicago influencer, one of many hosts of the Swipefat podcast, and the star of Bspoke TV’s Dating within the Modern Age, is freezing her eggs for her 36th birthday. That won’t sound just like the birthday present of your goals, however for Alex, nothing may very well be higher than shopping for herself a bit insurance coverage coverage for her fertility future.
She agreed to sit down down with Scary Mommy to share her expertise.
Alex by no means thought of freezing her eggs till she was 35—however she needs she had thought of it sooner.
“I wish my doctor had said something about [this option] sooner. I think doctors are conditioned to be like, ‘Oh, you’re 33, 34 in a few years you should consider freezing your eggs,’” Alex explains. “My doctor brought it up to me when I was probably 32, and told me I didn’t need to think about it until I was 35. I was like, ‘Oh okay cool.’ But I wish someone had to me to at least get my fertility health checked. No one really knows what they’re working with until they do that.”
“When I turned thirty-five, I was starting to freak out,” she admits. “I had very much worked on my personal life and my professional life, and finding a partner was not a priority. Having a family wasn’t a priority. I was turning thirty-five, and I was like, ‘Okay I at least need to figure out what I’m working with.’ I took it upon myself to have my fertility health checked because I was getting anxious about it. My OB/GYN didn’t suggest it,” Alex says.
“The hard part is that as you get older, your egg health decreases. I got 15 eggs, but only 8 of them were mature and viable. But if I were younger, I probably could have gotten all 15. If I was 28 and did this, I probably could be set for anything down the line, if I wanted to have multiple children. Right now, I’m kind of set up to have maybe one. Your chances go up the more eggs you have, so I’m sure they’re going to recommend another round. They want at least 22 eggs to have a chance at one live birth,” Alex shares.
After fertility testing, it was a straightforward leap to egg-freezing.
Alex explains that when she sought out fertility testing, “I just wanted [the fertility test results] to be like, ‘Oh you have a lot of eggs, you’re good. Which is what they told me. ‘You have a very healthy egg reserve. Things are looking great in there.’ But nobody at that particular place was like, “You need to realize your egg health and quantity decreases the older you get.”
After discovering out that she was nonetheless in good condition, fertility smart, Alex determined that she’d prefer to put a few of her eggs on reserve for later use.
“The place I started working with [to begin the freezing process] is the one that explained that in your thirties, things are not going to get better, they’re only going to get worse and said ‘You need to seriously consider [freezing your eggs] if [children] are something you seriously want for the future.’”
We really had a sit-down dialog the place they requested, “What is your goal for your own fertility? Is this something you absolutely want or not? Let’s talk about it.” No one did that earlier than.
The course of was fairly easy, if not precisely straightforward.
“The first step is fertility health testing,” Alex explains. “You go in and do an ultrasound and you do bloodwork, and they can figure out how many follicles you have in that cycle. Mine actually went down. In November, I had twenty follicles. I went back again when I decided to freeze my eggs in April, and I only had eight. That can depend on the month, but it can also change drastically at any time as you age.”
“After testing, you meet with a nurse and doctor to talk about your plan and what they would recommend based on your fertility health. They put together a drug regimen and a calendar of how often you’re going to inject yourself and how much of each drug you need,” says Alex. “You go in every other day to have an ultrasound and bloodwork to make sure all the drugs are working and things are tracking. They have to figure out when to give you a shot to trigger ovulation. It’s usually about a two-week process from injection to retrieval, then after that, you have a two-week recovery period.”
“Retrieval was actually really easy. It took maybe 20 minutes at most. You do have to go under anesthesia, but I was in and out, and I found out how many eggs I got right away. At my clinic, they tell you how many are viable the next day.”
Recovery for Alex wasn’t dangerous.
“I was bleeding a little right after the process, but that stopped pretty quickly. I started to feel more like myself after three days. You can’t really do much until you get your period. No sex. No working out. Your ovaries swell so much (to the size of a plum from an almond) because they’re trying to make more eggs come down, so if you twist them or jostle them, you can like, rupture them,” she explains.
“Yeah, I know. You get so bloated it’s insane. I sleep on my stomach. I would wake up, and I could feel my ovaries. It was so weird,” she laughs.
But freezing your eggs isn’t all easy-peasy. There are some laborious components, too.
Like the expense.
“It can be anywhere from like 8k to 15 or 20k depending on what drugs you need. I had to spend an additional two-thousand dollars I wasn’t expecting because I needed more drugs than they originally thought,” says Alex. For individuals who don’t have that type of money, Alex let me know that firms like EmBorrow exist to assist finance the price of fertility remedies. She additionally jogged my memory that when it’s time for her to make use of the eggs, that can require in-vitro fertilization, which shall be an extra gigantic expense.
The meds could make some individuals really feel very uncomfortable, however even in the event you tolerate them very well like Alex did, there may be nonetheless some emotional fallout to cope with.
“I don’t feel like the drugs made me more emotional, but the emotions that did come up were centered around existential stuff, which I was not expecting. I’m not sitting at home being like, ‘Oh my god, I’m single. Oh my god, when am I going to have a baby? That’s not something I’m usually thinking about, but with this you can’t do anything else, and it’s all you’re thinking about. [Not having a partner to help with the injections and make me comfortable] made me very aware that I was alone and doing this by yourself,” Alex shares.
I requested Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, OB/Gyn and medical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at Yale University, her ideas about egg freezing.
“Freezing eggs is certainly a viable option for folks. It is expensive, and it carries, of course, no guarantees. I feel terrible if a woman puts all her hopes into egg freezing, and then she says, ‘OK let’s use the frozen eggs,’ and things don’t work out. And we do know that fertility is reduced as we get older,” she explains.
But that doesn’t imply there’s no hope! “I have delivered “oops” pregnancies for 3 47-year-old ladies, so fertility isn’t unimaginable, it’s simply diminished,” in accordance with Dr. Minkin.
For Alex Stewart, the reassurance of getting her eggs preserved for later use is value it to her, even when it isn’t a complete assure.
“This made me feel like I can take control of my future fertility in some small way. I think part of me would love to wait and try naturally with a partner if one comes around. Maybe when I’m forty I might decide that I want to do it by myself. You obviously have to have a village for that so it’s something I’d need to think about,” she says. “With fertility, you can’t truly control the situation, but this at least gives me some control, and to know that I have a backup plan if I need it. The beauty of this is that I don’t have to know my eventual plan because I have an insurance policy.”