It’s probably best we first get acquainted as I’m about to open up my life (and ovaries) to you (too soon?). My name is Lisa and I am the Content Producer here at Stella. I like to work behind the scenes these days so when we were landing our themes for our blogs for the next quarter, I even shocked myself when I blurted out ‘Well, I could talk about my fertility journey’…
I had also seen Kin on the news as they were offering fertility testing via their website, as well as the pill delivered to your door. Upon researching Kin for the interview piece I was writing, I realised how incredibly important this platform was to Australian women (myself included) and it gave me the confidence to reach out to see if I could do the fertility test (even though I was based in New Zealand).
Unfortunately it wasn’t as option so I found a fertility specialist in New Zealand and it was then that my fertility journey truly began.
I also felt that I owed this blog to the countless women out there (my friends included), who had no idea where to start, or where they could find information from someone who had lived the experience and maybe in more simple terms than most of my Google searches have turned up.
It was a scary time for me at, 36 came around really, really fast… And after my interview with Nicole, I had the overwhelming feeling that maybe I didn’t have many eggs left and I just couldn’t shake it. Prior to meeting my partner now, I had decided if I hadn’t met anyone by the time I was 38, I would get a donor and go through the process as an empowered single woman – with that being said, I hadn’t even thought about what the process would truly involve.
So last November I broached the question ‘so when do you ideally want to have children?’.
At that time, to his own admission, my boyfriend (who is 5 years younger than me) hadn’t even really thought about the ‘when’, he did know that he wanted children and that we would make incredible parents. So, I explained that I wanted to find out my egg count, so we could plan as we may need freeze if we weren’t planning on being ready within the next year or so.
At that time, we were living overseas (and for the first time together) and I just wanted to be in the moment, but I also had this niggling thought in the back of my mind that maybe I wasn’t producing eggs, and maybe the best thing to do was to freeze them until we were ready. And for me, that was a decision I’m so glad I prioritised.
It also started an open and honest line of communication about our timelines for much more than children (hello mortgage) and started us on a trajectory to where we are now as I write this blog but we’ll pick that up later…
So, enough about me for now, let’s look a little closer into the steps I’ve been through so far.
Discuss with your GP about conducting the following initial tests – I cannot recommend more highly that you use (or find) a GP that is with you during this process. While a medical centre is great for a quick prescription, but this process is in-depth and it’s important you find a GP that will listen to your concerns and guide you through the process, to begin with.
First up you’ll likely need your GP to provide a referral for the following pathology tests:
- AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone)
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- HIV + Full Blood count + Syphilis
Then, you’ll need an Ultrasound (and preferably at a specialised ultrasound centre).
The ultrasound will access your AFC (Antral Follicle Count) and this will take place on your cycle days between days 5-9.
You might be wondering how you calculate your cycle, and it’s quite easy. Begin on day one of your period and count the number of days until your next period, which is day one of your next cycle. Track for 3 months and add the total number of days. Divide that number by three and you’ll have your average cycle length.
Once you’ve received these results you will have a better idea of your egg and count and then be able to make an educated decision on if freezing your eggs is right for where you are at in your life. I really do wish I had thought about this earlier in my journey.
The egg freezing process
So how does the freezing process work? Well, every month, follicles begin to develop in a woman’s ovaries. Around 1 to 30 follicles will grow each menstrual cycle – depending on a woman’s age and ovarian reserve. But just one follicle will dominate and release a mature egg.
During an egg freezing cycle, injections of a hormone known as FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) are used to encourage more of the follicles to develop mature eggs (just FYI this is a mega dose of hormones and don’t be worried if you’re feeling super emotional and a little all over the shop, it’s completely normal!).
The mature eggs are then collected under vaginal ultrasound guidance – sometimes called oocyte (egg) pick up (OPU) or retrieval. The eggs are then snap-frozen and stored for you. The whole process takes approximately 10 days to two weeks.
In most cases, you can retrieve enough eggs on the first round, but if not, then you will have to undertake the process again.
The costs of egg freezing
Your next question is probably around the cost. It’s important to source a range of quotes as this cost can vary. As a point of reference, here is what I was quoted.
- 1stCycle: $4600 (Cycle + freeze + 6 months storage)
- 2ndCycle: $3,950 (Cycle + freeze + 6 months storage)
- Day Surgery Egg Collection: $1,529.00
- Storage: $45.10 p/month including GST (after complimentary period expires)
- Medications: From $1,500per cycle
We decided to freeze and also try naturally in the coming year, but now we have a backup plan if the fun part (the trying) doesn’t happen with ease. It means we have our frozen option just waiting to be implanted via In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF).
For us, this has been an amazing experience that has brought us closer together and we are feeling super lucky that we now have options, to be completely honest it’s relieved the pressure of starting a family.
Remember though that each and every one of us will have a different experience and I am in no way a medical expert, I am just a girl standing in front of a boy asking for him to one day fertilise my eggs…
But on a serious note, I hope this has given you a little more clarity around the freezing process and it prompts you to start the conversation with your family and friends, too. It was so crazy that when I spoke to some girlfriends about my plan to freeze, they immediately said they had also been thinking about the same thing – they just literally didn’t know where to start.
So, hopefully, this is your beginning point, single or not, to start the process and give yourself time and a backup plan for future you.
I wish you all nothing but love and light, thanks for joining me on my journey thus far.
Author: Lisa Clark – Stella Content Producer