What Women Think Of Egg Freezing
“Ever since I hit 32, I was given two options by my family: get married or freeze my eggs.”
“You’re turning 30, freeze your eggs,” “Get married when you want, but freeze your eggs now,” “Freeze your eggs and you can continue to work or travel” — as women’s plans for pregnancy shift to later ages, they are increasingly being told to freeze their eggs.
The process of egg freezing includes harvesting eggs from the ovaries, freezing them unfertilized and storing them for later use. A frozen egg can be thawed, combined with sperm in a lab and implanted in the uterus.
The main difficulties with egg freezing are its high cost — and the fact that the expense does not actually assure a viable pregnancy; only a small percentage of eggs that are frozen, thawed and implanted result in the birth of a baby.
Advertising often treats egg freezing as an insurance, though doctors say they warn patients about the limited chances of pregnancy, as well as possible risks during harvesting, which include abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weight gain, shortness of breath, bleeding or infections.
But what do women actually feel about egg freezing? We asked women who have frozen their eggs, and women who are considering it, about their interest in the procedure.
Ruhi Shaikh, 27 — is considering freezing her eggs
“Freezing eggs seems to be the most convenient option for me right now given that I still haven’t made up my mind about wanting kids in the future. On some days, they feel like they are a huge investment, on other days I do think having kids is important. I don’t know too much about egg freezing or its procedure. Some say it is very painful, others say doing it will not be a guarantee that I will have kids. On top of that, I’ve heard about the use of injections that result in the swelling of ovaries, or cause nausea and vomiting. I don’t know if I want to go through all this just because I want to postpone having babies. Is it not possible to do everything I want to while I have a baby?”
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Reema Patel, 34 — has frozen her eggs
“Since my break up with a person I thought I would have kids with, I decided to freeze my eggs and I did. My doctor was frank and did inform me about my chances of having a baby from eggs frozen at 34. I still went ahead. They collected nine, six of which were suitable for freezing. Four months ago, I got married and decided to have a baby immediately, only to be told that only one egg had survived and very unlikely to lead to a pregnancy. I suddenly felt it was unrealistic of me to pin all my hopes on one option because to me, it felt like one egg equates one pregnancy but the truth is that it takes many eggs to lead to one. I started out naive, believing in the magic of freezing eggs that could lead to pregnancy at any time I want, but that’s not the reality. I’m undergoing IVF now, three cycles have so far been unsuccessful. I’m going to try till I have to absolutely give up but I’d like to advise women and their families that one shouldn’t look at egg freezing as an insurance policy; it’s not going to be like as soon as you want to use them, you’re good to go. In most cases, you won’t be good to go.”
Sheena Chandok, 38 — has frozen her eggs
“Ever since I hit 32, I was given two options by my family: get married or freeze my eggs. The second one seemed easier. I went for it, but six years later. With being older, the number of eggs that can be collected depends on the ovarian reserve. While some women may need only one round to preserve 15 eggs, others need multiple rounds and that’s what happened with me. To store 10 eggs, I’ve had four rounds that are not only expensive but the process is emotionally and physically draining and storage costs extra. It causes nausea, dizziness, sometimes even bleeding with no guarantee whether I will have children in the future or not. It’s like a shot in the dark, I’d consider myself very lucky if I can have a baby.”
Rama Patrick, 39 — has frozen her eggs
“I’ve never been able to make up my mind about having a baby. So the next best option seemed to be freezing my eggs. And I did. But my natural egg reserves were low so I was given a cocktail of hormones to ingest to stabilize the lining of my womb and stimulate maturation of my eggs. A friend of mine took the treatment well but I wish I had been prepared well for it. The pills with high amounts of estrogen caused morning sickness at least for 10 days straight. I wish I’d known how painful it can be. You feel druggy, there’s cramping, and pain in the spine. And no guarantee that all the pain I went through is all going to be worth it in the end. I often wonder if it would’ve been better to deal with labor pain instead of going through what I am right now and get done with it. Maybe after the baby came, I would’ve never felt I didn’t want one.”
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Karishma Shah, 28 — is being told to freeze her eggs
“I haven’t decided when I want to get married, but I’m sure I want to have a baby. Nowadays, I’m constantly reading up about freezing eggs and that seems to be a viable option. However, I’m also conflicted because I’ve also been reading about how more and more women are pushing their pregnancies into their late 30s and managing just about fine. I don’t know if egg freezing is a risk I’m willing to take; I’ve heard as many success stories as failures and the pain. I don’t know if it’s all worth it yet. It will need a lot more researching, talking to professionals and maybe some who’ve undergone it to come to a conclusion because if I want to do it, I want to do it at the right time.”
Anubhuti Matta is an associate editor with The Swaddle. When not at work, she's busy pursuing kathak, reading books on and by women in the Middle East or making dresses out of Indian prints.