Here’s What You Need to Know About Egg Freezing
You’re in your late twenties or thirties. Maybe you’re going back to school, your career is taking off, you haven’t found ‘the one’ just yet – that’s okay, these are all good things. Afterall, life’s about the journey. Maybe you also hope that motherhood will come along at some point but right now, you know it’s just not in the cards – that’s okay too.
Bridget Brennan, RN, BSN, is the Egg Freezing Coordinator for Main Line Fertility and she has been in your shoes. When she was 27 she was thinking about going back to school to get her nurse practitioners degree and she hadn’t met Mr. Right just yet. However, she knew that motherhood was important to her – she describes herself as the girl her friends made fun of for falling in love with every little baby who walked by.
Brennan was also diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), a fertility and endocrine disorder that could make it difficult for her to conceive. As a nurse with Main Line Fertility, she was already well educated on her fertility options, which is why Brennan ultimately made the decision to freeze her eggs.“Between my PCOS and where I was in my personal life, I knew wanted to have a backup plan. I was fortunate to be aware of my situation at an early age,” she says.
Brennan would hear her patients say things like, “If I only knew, I would have made different choices. I would have frozen my eggs when I was in my late twenties.” She knew the egg freezing process would be a worthy investment in herself and her future family, and it could save her from IVF treatments later down the line. “It’s a big investment in your 30s, but it’s an even bigger investment when you get to your early 40s.”
Brennan explains the entire process takes about two weeks. In simple terms, a woman looking to freeze her eggs visits her doctor for a reproductive health physical to gather information about her overall health and fertility. If she decides to freeze her eggs, her medications will be ordered and prescribed. Then on the second or third day of her menstrual cycle, she’ll begin taking injectable fertility medications and see her doctor periodically (about 5 to 7 visits) prior to egg retrieval. When the eggs are ready, they are retrieved and cryopreserved (frozen) for later use.
Brennan says she had some cramping while the follicles were developing and a slight headache here and there. She was a little bloated toward the end of the process but she would by no means say the process hurts. The injections don’t hurt, the retrieval doesn’t hurt – patients are under sedation. She says women tend to think they’re going to feel like “a crazy woman” on the different medications. “It’s true that anytime you introduce hormones, you’re going to have a wide range of symptoms but surprisingly enough these medications really are tolerable and I found that to be true myself.” If anything, she says she felt tired but she would listen to her body and go to bed earlier on those days she felt fatigued.
Brennan also emphasizes all of those potential side effects go away once the process is over. Her main concern was that egg freezing is not a guarantee – you don’t know how the eggs will act until it’s met with sperm and becomes an embryo. However, “the number one thing I had was a sense of relief. I just did something for myself and my future family, and that was empowering,” Brennan says.
Brennan’s advice? Look at your five and ten-year plan. Where do you see yourself? If you see yourself being a mother toward the end of that ten-year plan and you’re already 30, that 10 years takes you to 40. The chances of having your own biological children decrease the older you get. A lot of women don’t realize this, which is why she decided to create her blog, “Eggvice,” to educate women about their fertility options.
Brennan says she wanted to create a place for women go and read up on the information that she has been privy to through her work. “The education is huge,” Brennan says. “ It needs to be out there. Women need to know more about their fertility so they can make informed decisions in their life.”
“I felt like I needed to do my patients due diligence. I couldn’t ignore the information I knew and I couldn’t ignore my patients repeatedly saying to me ‘if I only knew’ and not doing something about it,” Brennan says. “I also have a baby girl who is going to be one next week. That’s made it important for me to ensure that the next generation is well educated too.”
To learn more about freezing your eggs, visit www.mainlinefertility.com.This is a paid partnership between Main Line Fertility and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio