Do I freeze my eggs?
April 2, 2024 4:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm 35, healthy, financially stable, and 7 months out of the relationship I thought would lead to having kids. I would like to be single for the next while. I'm relatively sure I want to be a parent but it's never been a total must for me. Smart planning for the future, or unnecessary medical procedure?

I've gone through the preliminary steps of consulting around egg freezing -- I'm apparently quite fertile and my doc says in the next year is a great / ideal time to do this if I want to. I have good health insurance and the doc I'm going to came recommended by a friend who already went through the egg retrieval procedure, who is a medical professional herself, so I have high trust in the team. However, it's still a pretty involved process, it would be my first time taking any type of hormonal birth control anything / fertility drugs, and there's of course a bunch of forms you have to sign that are like btw in rare cases you can die or have other bad outcomes (I am a bit of a hypochondriac).

On the other hand, I'm just not logistically in a place to have a kid anytime soon and also not completely sold on doing it at all. I'm 7 months past a pretty awful breakup, haven't been single in a long time before that, and am finding that I love it. I work in nightlife and travel frequently. Only one person I've ever been attracted to (in the last 20 years) was someone I would consider parenting with, and that obviously didn't work out, so let's say I need at least 1-2 more years of fun free singledom before I start dating to find my co-parent, then it might take a while to find the person, then it will take time to get pregnant... you get the point. However, I know statistically most frozen eggs don't end up getting used, so it seems on some level perhaps a pointless endeavor just to help reduce resentment towards my ex for wasting my time. I am maybe 75% sure I would like to be a parent in some form - I've felt this way for about the last 5 years after never previously having interest, but also feel like if it doesn't happen, I will still have a great fulfilling life.

If there was no risk of complications and it would just be uncomfortable, I would definitely go for it. The question on my mind is more "my life is great right now, do I really need to risk that newfound stability with a scary medical procedure"? However, if I do this, I'm going to definitely do it now because I would like to wrap this up before I change health insurance (left my day job, am doing COBRA for now - joys of the US healthcare system).

What should I be considering and how did you or your loved ones make a decision about this?
posted by internet of pillows to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As someone who has done several rounds of unsuccessful IVF closer to 40, I say do it. The process is unpleasant, but bearable - it only lasts a few weeks - and fertility really drop off a lot as you get into your late thirties. I could use an egg donor now, but if I had my own eggs I would be much happier.
posted by epanalepsis at 4:51 PM on April 2 [11 favorites]

I've done IVF. I don't think the egg retrieval is the big scary medical procedure you're imagining. It was a smaller deal than having my wisdom teeth out. The medication and ultrasounds leading up to things are a bit of a pain in the butt, but that's more an issue of inconvenience than anything else.

I can't speak to the questions of whether you want it and timing and all the other stuff about how it might or might not fit into your life but just frome a medical procedure angle it's a pretty small thing.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 4:57 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]

I went through three IVF retrievals and one successful frozen embryo transfer at 40 (luckily my fertility numbers were still strong when I started) and I'm happy to discuss more over memail.

When I was reading everything I could about ART, the message about freezing eggs is so hopeful for the future options, but please understand that it's not a guarantee. You could speak to the reproductive endocrinologist that you first consult with about frozen eggs viability vs frozen embryo viability (granted; it seems like you would need donor sperm if you went this route at the moment).

As for the retrieval process, I was fortunate to be able to have my husband handle the shots for me, which took some of the anxiety away. I took notes of all of my symptoms and had a noticeable swelling/bloated feeling (I was developing 15-20 follicles per cycle) during the lead up. I was tried after on the day of the retrieval and took it pretty easy for a few days after. Two of the three felt like scraping had happened during the procedure (I was under anesthesia for the ten minute procedure), but that sensation dulled by day two. If I hadn't looked at those notes for a friend recently, I wouldn't have recalled any physical feeling during the cycle. All of it I would lump into a minor pain category.

The fertility clinics are also very accommodating with their schedules so that you can get in early morning (6:30-9 in my experience) for ultrasounds and labs so it's easier to keep it quiet from your day to day life if that's what you'd like to do.

My friends have run the gamut from freezing eggs around your age and then marrying a few years later and conceiving naturally to many going through IVF with their partners and onto using donor eggs and/or sperm because they were unable to use their own eggs at that point by still wanted to carry a baby. Your ask made me immediately think of the friends in the first scenario. It's a good move to invest in your future needs/wants in my opinion.

From previous questions, I think you're in SF. Maybe your former employer's healthcare plans offer egg freezing, but I don't believe that CA had a fertility mandate, so the procedure doesn't seem to be required in healthcare coverage.

Good luck and it's great that you're thinking this through when you're still in a good spot!
posted by icaicaer at 5:08 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

Do it. If you don't, you won't have to worry that you'll regret it later. Later will be too late, so do it now.
posted by summerstorm at 5:38 PM on April 2 [4 favorites]

Do it. If you don't, you won't have to worry that you'll regret it later. Later will be too late, so do it now.

One way to think about this is that the risk if you do it is that you'll regret wasting your time and money. The risk if you don't do it is that you'll regret wasting your chance. I feel like the first regret is less burdensome than the second.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:49 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

Do it, there’s really no downside and potentially huge benefits.
posted by tristeza at 6:37 PM on April 2 [1 favorite]

The Cut has been doing an interesting series on reproductive rights & fertility in general. Funny enough I was just reading this article What If You Hadn’t Frozen Your Eggs?

The statistics on live births and potential for medical issues and side effects are concerning to me, and I also feel like most women's health issues its taken as a "no big deal! just some shots! Take some Tylenol!" which isnt always the case for everyone

I have never regretted not having kids, and weirdly am just not a big regret person in general. I think you need to know this abut yourself- will you be upset at yourself in 5-10 yearsfor potentially closing this door? So speaking of- Dear Sugar's the ghost ship that didnt carry us

(also let me know if you get paywalled at The Cut and I'll send you a copy)
posted by zara at 6:40 PM on April 2 [5 favorites]

Well, if you don't freeze your eggs, there are certainly other ways to be a parent when the time is right. My friends who have adopted their kids feel as passionately and deeply about them as anyone else does about their DNA-sharers.
posted by rainy day girl at 9:25 PM on April 2 [2 favorites]

I froze my eggs at 35, and it was 1000% the best decision I ever made. I had just been widowed and the mental breathing room and space created by taking fertility questions off the table for a little bit were critical. I didn’t end up using them, but the initial decision to freeze and the decision not to have children were both the right decision, I just needed time between the two to figure my shit out and make the right call for me.
posted by susiswimmer at 9:54 PM on April 2 [3 favorites]

I grappled with the same question at age 36. Although I had never really been keen on being a parent, I wasn't completely against the idea either, and the months leading up to my birthday had me thinking more and more about having a kid one day and looking for ways to buy some time. So I went through the preliminary consults and tests, learned I was an ideal candidate, and was told by the specialist that very few patients with a similar profile actually ended up using their eggs because they'd then conceive the good old-fashioned way. I was also a year older than the cut-off in my country for donation, so that wasn't an option either. Moreover, IVF is covered by universal healthcare for up to six cycles over here.

The thing that cemented my decision was when we discussed the financials. Although egg freezing is considered an elective procedure and is thus not covered by insurance, it would have cost about a month's wages. Still totally doable. When my immediate reaction was "I would rather do so many other things with that chunk of change", I realized I didn't actually want a child and was motivated more by FOMO than anything else. So I decided against it. I'm now 47 and have no regrets. Going through the initial workup and interview helped clarify things for me.
posted by pendrift at 12:14 AM on April 3 [7 favorites]

I did three rounds of egg freezing at age 36. While no medical procedure is without risk (any surgery potentially ends in death), the retrieval itself seemed pretty minor to me. Keep in mind that even childbirth is a medical procedure that technically could end in death but thankfully that’s rare.

I haven’t used my frozen eggs and probably never will, but they were a valuable insurance policy that seems like it would make sense in your situation.

Could you talk to a doctor about your fears and get some statistics on the likelihood of complications/bad outcomes you’re worried about?
posted by whitelily at 2:11 AM on April 3

Just saying this cuz i dont think anyone else has.. you might consider freezing some embryos as well if there is a way that could be a viable option for you. I know, a non-starter for many, but worth discussing with your provider if its at all intriguing to you because embryos have a higher chance of not being damaged when they are thawed, among many other advantages particularly relevant to people considering egg freezing who are over 35.
posted by elgee at 4:45 AM on April 3 [1 favorite]

When my husband had to make some serious decisions about a treatment plan, our clinic gave us a referral to a therapist who specialized in working with fertility patients.

We did a session where she helped us walk through the implications of the various options on the table, and it was extremely helpful.

So I would suggest seeing if your clinic has a therapist they can refer you to.
posted by champers at 10:30 AM on April 3

Is having a child with your genetic material particularly important to you, or would donor eggs/ embryos or adoption meet the same needs?

(I don't think people should subject themselves to the crapshoot of parenting if they don't desperately want to, and since you don't desperately want to, I'd opt out of the potentially highly unpleasant procedure if there are other options were you to change your mind.)
posted by metasarah at 10:53 AM on April 3

I knew for most of my life that I should enjoy my freedom before I became a mother. I hit every (inhabited) continent before 30 since I wouldn't have time to travel when I was a mother. I saved 30% of my paychecks so I would have money to take a longer than usual maternity leave, and maybe even stay home for a few years. I tried dangerous things like sky diving before I had the responsibilities of a family. I planned my career to do the high travel, intense hours early, so I could be more flexible when I had kids.

I am not a mother.

I considered freezing my eggs when I broke up with my long-time boyfriend in my late 20s, but figured I still had some time to find the right person. Within 3 months of the breakup I got a medical diagnosis that makes me basically infertile. It was sad at first, but then I felt like I had so much time for everything else. The decision was made, the pressure was off. I was no longer rushing towards my inevitable burden of taking care of a husband and family. I could take the work assignments that sounded most enjoyable. I have a huge financial cushion and can retire early or take time off to travel.

This isn't the life I planned for, but it's the life that happened, and so far it's been pretty good.
posted by Narrow Harbor at 8:47 PM on April 3 [2 favorites]

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