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Two Women Share Their Egg Freezing Journeys

Two Women Share Their Egg Freezing Journeys

It would be a serious understatement to say that we are living in uncertain times. For those interested in parenthood, the unpredictability of COVID has, in some cases, delayed starting a family. It’s no surprise, then, that more and more people are now considering egg freezing, a process that allows you to freeze unfertilized eggs, store for future (or later) use, and leave open the possibility of starting a family in the future. 

And with ample room for reflection and planning, not to mention work-from-home arrangements conducive to frequent doctor’s appointments, the pandemic has proven to be a convenient time to start the process. Clinics across the country saw a significant uptick in egg freezing during 2020. 

While egg freezing can be an empowering process that provides otherwise hard-to-find control over your future, it’s also a significant emotional and financial investment, with an intensive medication schedule, too. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or unsure of what to expect, but thankfully there’s lots of individuals on the other side of it who are willing to share their experience. Read on to hear what egg freezing was like for two members of our team, and view our previous post on egg freezing and IVF for an overview of the process.

“It was always in the back of my head, and now I have the relief of knowing I’m preserving multiple options for the future.”

Grace, 27, a provider success specialist on Alto’s fertility team, knows firsthand how convenient it is to work from home while going through the process of freezing your eggs. “The pandemic was actually a great time to do it,” she says. “It was a lot more manageable to do the injections at home and be uncomfortable and bloated in my own space rather than at the office.”

Grace’s professional background in fertility motivated her to reflect on her own reproductive goals. She knew she always wanted kids, but since she didn’t see herself starting a family in the near future, egg freezing felt like an appropriate next step in her journey.

Grace first started the process at 24, taking an AMH blood test to learn more about her egg count. She had fewer eggs in her ovarian reserve than the average for her age. After completing two egg freezing cycles in January and April of this year, she did not retrieve the minimum number of eggs she was aiming for and thus plans to do a third cycle to reach her goal of at least ten frozen eggs.

While the outcome isn’t what she had hoped for, she’s grateful that the test helped manage expectations, and to have learned earlier rather than later that her fertility journey will involve multiple rounds of egg freezing.

“After the AMH, I wasn’t sure if this would even work for me,” she says. “The results from the retrievals are better than nothing, and I’m really grateful I found out at age 26 and not at 30.”

Here’s more about Grace’s egg freezing journey, in her own words.

What was your experience of the egg retrieval like?

Grace: In my experience, the retrieval itself was actually the least intimidating part. By that point, your body has already done everything it needs to do. All that’s left is showing up for the quick procedure, which takes twenty to thirty minutes. It was all out of my hands so I tried my best to just relax. Because of COVID, no one else could come with me, which isn’t usually the case. Fortunately I had the added comfort of working with doctors I already knew since I completed the process at the clinic where I was working at the time.

What was the hardest part of the process?

Grace: For me, it was getting the numbers back after the first retrieval and learning that there weren’t as many eggs as everyone expected for my age — I got a total of nine eggs from my first two rounds combined and the typical range for a woman my age is fifteen or more. I’ll have to go through the process again if I want to reach a goal of a certain number of eggs for the future; generally the target is at least ten frozen eggs. 

It can feel isolating to have a low egg count if you know other people who went through the process and had a different outcome, like I did, which can feel as if your body isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. As disappointing as it is, at least I have this information early so I’m able to plan for other options.

What do you wish others knew about egg freezing?

Grace: I wish more women knew about the AMH test — which tells you the number of remaining eggs in your ovaries — and the importance of getting tested as early as possible. Knowledge is power. No one expects to have low numbers. From both my own journey and my work with lots of patients over the years, I’ve seen firsthand how devastating it can be to get this information when you're ready to start a family, at which point it may or may not be too late. 

The earlier you know your fertility status, the better. That way you can make an informed decision and plan ahead.

Do you have any self-care tips?

Grace: Candles and music got me into a calm headspace before the injections, when my anxiety would spike. Also, honoring what my body was telling me, taking naps when needed, and talking to coworkers who had gone through the process.

Why did you choose Alto for your fertility pharmacy?

Grace: Egg freezing medications can change on the day of a doctor’s appointment depending on ultrasound results, so being able to schedule same-day delivery, even on weekends, without paying extra was really important. It gave me greater peace of mind during what can be a stressful process.

And even though I worked in the field and was familiar with the process, Alto’s injection videos were so helpful, and the reassurance of knowing I could reach out to a pharmacist for support at any time made the whole experience more manageable.

“I wanted a safety net, and this was one thing I did have control over. It was a decision that was only mine to make.”

For Jess, 36, another member of our fertility team, turning 35 was the final push to move forward with egg freezing. “It was always in the back of my mind, but then other life events kept taking precedence and before I knew it, time was running out to make it worth the investment,” she says.

Since the idea of starting a family soon was unpredictable, she decided it was the right time to start the egg freezing process. It didn’t hurt that the experience would double as some user research, as she explains, “I was familiar with the pharmacy aspect of egg freezing through my work, but I wanted to understand the personal experience of actually going through the process.”

Although she completed her egg freezing cycle before the pandemic, she understands how empowering it is to be able to take your future into your own hands, something that’s taken on new importance over the past year. “I realized I couldn’t rely on a partner to be the person I’d start a family with,” she says. “This felt like the one thing I did have some control over.”

The retrieval went smoothly, yielding more eggs than expected, but Jess, who has also considered adoption, is still keeping her options open. For her, that’s one of the biggest benefits of egg freezing: not having to make any immediate decisions about parenthood, but knowing that there’s multiple possibilities still on the table. Below, Jess shares more about her experience with the process.

What was your experience of the egg retrieval like?

Jess: There were some delays and the retrieval date got pushed back a few times. I went in on the weekend, and it wasn’t my regular doctor, but I felt confident in my clinical team based on past conversations. I had some complications with blood pressure, but in general the process went well. I ended up with more eggs than expected.

I remember feeling alone afterwards and wanting to sleep all day, but I ended up meeting a friend at the beach, which lifted my spirits. Egg freezing is such an interesting experience because it’s super emotional for two weeks leading up to the retrieval and then it’s just done.

What was the hardest part of the process?

Jess: It’s a really emotionally intense process to navigate on your own. I was thankful to have coworkers who’d been through it to talk to. The delays were hard, too. There was one day when I had to get my blood drawn and it just wasn’t happening even after five tries. By the end, it felt like waiting itself had become such a big part of the process.

What do you wish others knew about egg freezing?

Jess: With egg freezing, medication can be complicated. The specific dosages can change based on hormone levels, which are measured through bloodwork and ultrasounds. It’s not uncommon for your doctor to change a prescription the day of an appointment, so if you get all the prescriptions filled ahead of time, there’s a chance some of the medications may not be used. If you use a pharmacy that manages your deliveries as you confirm you need the medications and offers same-day delivery, like at Alto, you can save a lot of money and avoid wasting the medication.

Also, definitely do some research on finding a pharmacy that will help you navigate insurance benefits and potential medication cost savings options.

Do you have any self-care tips?

Jess: I tried not to put my life on hold during the process and stayed active with camping and hiking. As long as I had my medication, I was comfortable. I also got a puppy just before starting the process, which was a big benefit and distraction.

Why did you choose Alto for your fertility pharmacy?

Jess: I wanted to experience firsthand our fertility service, and it was also really important to have a reliable pharmacy partner that made it possible to avoid wasting medication. My clinic had been working with Alto for years, and it was comforting to know that they were in lockstep with each other. Being able to track deliveries in the app was also really reassuring. I didn’t have to worry about where my medication was when it was in transit.

Choose a pharmacy partner with flexibility for your egg freezing journey

Having a reliable but flexible fertility pharmacy partner is especially important during egg freezing, which can involve last-minute changes with medication. Alto offers free, same-day delivery and expert guidance on fertility medication. Our dedicated fertility specialists are also here to guide you through your first injections and work with your doctor to ensure your egg freezing treatment plan is followed correctly.

Visit us at alto.com/fertility or reach out via phone, text, or the app to learn more.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.