Ever heard the term “social egg freezing?” It sounds like it may involve a party or perhaps social media.
Could it also mean women discussing egg freezing with other women? Or maybe it’s what Dr. Shruti Malik, a fertility specialist at Shady Grove Fertility’s Fairfax and Woodbridge, VA offices, did when she froze her eggs—she invited a group of friends to freeze their eggs at the same time.
Before you announce “I’m freezing my eggs” on your social media page, here’s what social egg freezing actually is: it’s when a woman freezes her eggs (also known as egg cryopreservation) to preserve her fertility for elective reasons. Dr. Malik began to consider her fertility and future plans during her professional training in reproductive endocrinology, as she met patients who were having difficulty conceiving for medical and elective (or non-medical) reasons, including but not limited to age, cancer treatment, or early menopause.
Here, Dr. Malik gets personal about why she decided to have her eggs frozen.
Because I wasn’t ready to start a family.
Freezing my eggs is “fertility insurance” for me—an investment in my ability to start my family when I’m ready. The truth is, I don’t want to feel pressured to find a partner because my biological clock is ticking. Having frozen eggs means that when I find the right person, I’ll be entering the relationship without feeling rushed into pregnancy.
Because donor eggs may not be available.
The importance of family has been ingrained in my life since I was young, as family values are strong in the Indian culture in which I grew up. I maintain a close relationship with my parents, and it’s understandable that they are excited about the possibility of grandchildren.
But despite their desire to have grandchildren sooner rather than later, relationships and babies don’t grow on trees.
Frankly, I’d like to wait until the timing is right to start my family. But I know that my ability to conceive naturally will grow slim with time, as my ovaries age and egg quality decreases.
Women in similar situations sometimes opt to use donor eggs. But the reality is, I want my children to share my heritage, and most egg donors are Caucasian. Freezing my eggs ensures that I will have biological children to raise in my family’s values.
Because I was concerned about my ovarian function.
I’ve found that many women are nervous about freezing their eggs because they’re afraid of what their test results will reveal. Admittedly, I was scared of fertility testing as well. But when a friend of mine got tested and found that her ovarian reserve was low, she decided to pursue egg cryopreservation immediately.
If my friend had not been proactive, she might not have discovered that her ovarian function was low for several years, making it even harder to achieve successful pregnancy when she was ready. She inspired me to get a group of my friends together so we could go through ovarian reserve testing together. In doing so, my test results also revealed that my ovarian reserve was low for my age. Because I was single and not planning to try to conceive in the near future, I immediately froze my eggs.
I encourage women who are trying to conceive or want to conceive in the future to have their ovarian reserve assessed. Many women are hesitant because they think testing is expensive, painful, and time-consuming. Although some women do experience discomfort after the procedure, egg freezing is more affordable and simple than you might think.
Egg freezing is similar to the first part of the in-vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure. During IVF, a physician retrieves one or more unfertilized eggs from the ovarian tissue, then fertilizes the eggs with sperm in an embryology lab to create embryos. Prior to the egg retrieval process, the ovaries must be stimulated to produce many mature eggs, which is the stimulation phase of an IVF cycle. The difference between IVF and egg freezing is that with egg freezing those eggs retrieved are immediately frozen and transferred to long-term storage rather than fertilized and implanted in a woman’s uterus right away. When a woman is ready to use her frozen eggs, the eggs must be thawed first.
IVF is the most successful treatment a woman can undergo using her own eggs and sperm (or donor sperm). The success rates of IVF using frozen eggs are encouraging—women who freeze the recommended number of eggs have a 65 to 80 percent chance of conceiving successfully, depending on age.
While it’s not a well-known fact, the first phase of the egg freezing process—which involves bloodwork and an ultrasound—is usually covered by health insurance. Most Shady Grove Fertility patients can conveniently schedule assessments before work and still go to work on the same day.
In the second phase of the egg freezing process, women are advised to take 1 day off of work for the egg retrieval portion of the freezing process, since it’s a surgical procedure. And the cost of this procedure can be financed with an affordable payment plan.
Because it was the best decision of my life.
Freezing my eggs has been a great benefit both personally and professionally.
I’ve enhanced my knowledge of the egg freezing procedure with personal experience. Sharing my story at Shady Grove Fertility helps put patients at ease. From the fertility drugs to the anxiety about test results, I know how it feels to be the patient rather than the doctor.
Fertility preservation has given me flexibility in family planning. I can decide when I’d like to become pregnant without rushing into a relationship to immediately start my family. I like being able to pursue my career and have time to find the right partner to move forward with.
Just like many of you reading this, I was anxious about the egg freezing process. But now I have no regrets about my decision. Understanding my test results and my options empowered me to make an investment in my future family. Hopefully my story can do the same for you.
Call 1-877-411-9292 to schedule an egg freezing appointment with Dr. Malik or one of our other 38 fertility specialists.