“I am considering freezing my eggs.”
“Like a fertility savings account. I think it would take the pressure off. It removes the whole biological issue.”
Miranda and Carrie chatted during a Sex and the City episode.
While viewing this rerun in 2014, seeing how casually the subject of the freezing eggs is brought up got me curious about how advanced the technology is nowadays.
So I googled “freezing eggs” on my IPad and read through Wikipedia. It is then, to my dismay, I learned that:
- The quality of eggs deteriorates as time passes by. Click to find out how our eggs/oocytes age.
- More and more women turn to freeze eggs/oocyte cryopreservation to preserve the quality of eggs at the time. Cryopreservation is increasingly common. Find out more about the technology of freezing eggs here.
- The optimal age of conception is before 31.
I was 37 then.
The ship sailed 6 years ago.
I was shocked by what I read.
Having a larger hip since I was younger, I was often referred to as physically advantageous to be broody in the Chinese culture.
The common flattery about me looking younger than my age also fooled me to think that I am more youthful than my age, physically and biologically.
I thought my risk of delaying the childbearing would be about the age difference with my child – the later I carry a child, the more significant the age difference will be. “Will I have the energy to chase after my kid at the playground when I am 50?”
– I only asked myself these nonconsequential questions.
“The aging effect on reproductive function is biological, and the clock never turns back.”
In the course of the following few months after the Sex and the City revelation, I found…
- As we age, the eggs we produce decline in quantity and quality. Click to learn how our ovarian ages.
- The verification of abnormality of oocytes and specific hereditary diseases can be done before conception through In Vitro Fertilization (additional costs). This makes it a more “secured” way of conception to weed out the common chromosome abnormalities found amongst the oocytes of older women.
- The quality of eggs is supposedly preserved at the time of extraction during the egg-freezing process.
- Eggs can be kept for ten years – ideally extracted before 35 for eggs of better quality. Though do read this researched article to find out why 35 is already late in reproductivity.
- In case of any medical treatments such as chemotherapy, our ovarian reserve would be damaged.
- Freezing eggs before any chemotherapy can enable pregnancy after the treatment.
- Egg-freezing was part of the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) when a couple wanted to establish a successful pregnancy through:
- Extract ova/eggs from the woman’s ovaries, the same process as egg-freezing
- Fertilize the sperm in a laboratory,
- Embryo culture for 2-6 days before,
- Transfer to a woman’s uterus to attempt a pregnancy
- Hong Kong doesn’t allow a non-married woman to freeze their eggs.
- Taiwan and Thailand accept a non-married woman to freeze eggs.
HOW MANY EGGS TO PRESERVE TO ENSURE CONCEPTION?
To ensure that at least a baby can be conceived, it is vital to extract as many mature eggs as possible; one extraction can yield several eggs, while maybe only a few or none at all is mature enough for preservation. Only eggs reaching a certain standard/maturity are to be preserved / frozen.
Here is a table provided by a clinic in Taiwan to show the ideal number of mature eggs for extraction to ensure conception in the future:
|Quantity of eggs to preserve for a likelihood of a pregnancy||10 eggs||18 eggs||20 eggs||>20 eggs|
So I decided that I would go about freezing my eggs. Period.
MY HAPPY FREEZING EGGS EXPERIENCE
I was more than convinced with the idea of freezing eggs for the following reasons:
- To preserve the quality of my eggs at that age / state
- To lose the pressure about the biological clock and to feel more at ease being single
- To allow the possibility of conceiving in a more secure way
- To avoid the troubles of going through conception problems at an older age when I am coupled up
- Egg extraction can be the most challenging part during an IVF process – lots of hormones, injections, whole body anesthesia…etc. So that part would be already covered.
After considering the flight distance, frequency of visits, and costs, I froze my eggs in Taiwan 6 months after the Sex and the City episode.
Total costs excluding traveling and misc. and hormone injections
|Misc Fees||NT$ 750|
|Blood Test||NT$ 1,400|
|Hormones Injections||NT$ 27,580|
|Storage fee for 5 years||NT$ 28,000|
|Total – extraction & storage for 5 years||NT$ 127,730 / US$ 4,350|
TIMELINE OF FREEZING EGGS
Day 2 of Period
|Day 8 – 10
April 5th – 7th
|Day 14 – 22
April 10th – 17
10 days after the extraction
|Process||Blood test and ultrasound check to see how many eggs are produced.
A nurse helped inject a hormone shot effective for 7 days to boost the maturity of oocytes.
I Brought home hormone shots for use later.
|Daily self-injection of hormones at home.
Ultrasound check and blood test for the no. of eggs and the maturity of eggs. Greenlight from the clinic to continue with the night injection.
A Friend helped to inject two shots at 9 pm on April 7th.
|Extraction operation in Taiwan at 9 am – whole-body anesthesia; operation may have lasted for 15 minutes only.
Debriefed and confirmed 21 eggs were preserved.
I woke up a couple of hours later for lunch, then left to catch a plane at 4 pm.
|Observation||The abdominal area (ovary, in fact) is increasing in size.||Refrain from exercise that can overstimulate/burst the maturing eggs.||Minor fatigue due to anesthesia.
No noticeable pain after anesthesia subsides.
|Side effects surfaced: spotting, discomfort due to bloated abdomen, which also caused distress to sleep, and occasional abdominal cramps.||The menstruation cycle resumes. And the side effect disappeared.|
After Freezing My Eggs…
I really pulled a hit-and-run on this freezing eggs operation.
The timeline I stated was the actual case but not at all the recommendation by the clinic (or anyone who knows about freezing eggs..).
I had skipped one or two close observations with ultrasound and blood tests and had little time to rest before flying between Hong Kong and Taiwan.
I was told that I was a lucky one to have extracted 21 mature eggs in one extraction. The quality of eggs cannot be identified yet until the chromosome tests during IVF.
As warned with the side effects, I had a swollen tummy/ovary and abdominal cramps – I wasn’t supposed to do any sport after the operation until my menstruation cycle resumes ten days later when the side effects subside.
The staff was extensive, accommodating, and assuring before, during, and after the operation. The facility of the clinic was advanced and new. Having chosen a good facility made my experience pleasant and smooth.
Several friends had approached me to learn more about the process, proving that delaying motherhood is increasingly common. Click to see how commonly delayed motherhood is.
Just the peace of mind about having the possibility to conceive later in life when the conditions are right for me while losing the pressure of catching the biological clock were already well worth the operation – I am grateful that I have this one assurance I ever needed in my life.
I strongly recommend ladies freezing eggs at a younger age preferably around 25 years of age to preserve the quality of their eggs at that age and to get that pressure off the back of their mind whether they are coupled up or not. It was truly a great assurance and relief for me in life.