I personally haven’t looked hard into this area, but I’ve felt really grateful to the people I know who have shared their experiences.
Catherio has the most comprehensive writeup:
It includes some related folks’ discussion of choosing a clinic (primarily useful for people in the SF Bay Area, but some generally useful advice and resources).
Nancy Hua went through one cycle a while back and then two more during covid and wrote about her experience here:
The Sunny Upside: Freezing My Eggs, Abundance Mindset, and Reproductive Freedom
I froze more eggs during COVID! Now I've done 3 cycles and feel I have abundant eggs. Even if none of them turn into a baby whenever I'm ready to have them, I feel like I gave it a solid try and am free of biological clock time scarcity.
A friend posted this article as a warning on optimism
The struggle to conceive with frozen eggs
Brigitte Adams caused a sensation four years ago when she appeared on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek under the headline, "Freeze your eggs, Free your career." She was single and blond, a Vassar graduate who spoke fluent Italian, and was working in tech marketing for a number of prestigious companies.
(I’ve also been cautioned about the pregnancy risks (rather than egg/fetus risk) for older mothers, but I haven’t looked for studies to back that up)
Eloise also recently went through the process (eventually 3x) and left these notes for us:
day after period starts: ultrasound to see what your ovaries are up to, blood draw to check hormone levels
week 1: Daily oral contraceptive because it maybe makes the later parts work better. Some clinics skip this.
week 2-3: This is the part where you brew up mad-science-esque concoctions in your kitchen and stab yourself with needles. 2-3 daily self-mixed and self-administered injections cause many eggs to mature at once while preventing ovulation. I felt legit heart-thumping fear the first time I had to stab myself with a needle, but got used to it quickly.
During this time you'll also be going in every 1-3 days for more blood draws and ultrasounds.
end of week 3:
Head back to your kitchen laboratory one more time for the "trigger shot" which triggers the final maturation of your eggs.
If all goes well, 36 hours later it will be egg retrieval time. To do this, a needle goes through the vaginal wall and into the ovary to remove the eggs. (You're under probably twilight anesthesia for this part and it doesn't hurt until that wears off later, and then only mildly.) Then the eggs are frozen.
[Note: your buddy will wait 3hrs for the surgery to finish]
After ~25 medication injections, ~8 blood draws, and 1 time letting someone stab you in the literal vagina with a needle, your development of superhuman indifference to needles is now complete.
Then you head home to recover from surgery and take antibiotics for a few days to prevent infection. When your next period starts you can start the process again. I'm doing it several times to keep my options extra open.
The worst parts of the experience for me:
- the first time I had to inject myself
- RIP my clear skin. I broke out like a teenage boy, and I also have a bunch of little wounds on my thighs from all the injections.
- surgery recovery
The best parts of the experience for me:
- the baby mad science
- not having a reproduction timeline looming over me. Maybe I'll have kids at some point, maybe I won't, but I'm not trapped into either
Fun fact: maturing many egg follicles at once instead of just 1 makes your estrogen shoot up freakishly high. Median peak estradiol is 250 pg/mL. My estradiol was *4,000* pg/mL the day before my egg retrieval. Weirdly, I didn't feel that different - I was maybe a little bit more tearful than normal but within the normal range for me. I wouldn't have noticed something freakish was happening inside of me unless you told me.
My main 3 meds were gonal-f and menopur for ovarian stimulation and cetrotide to prevent ovulation. I had acne from hell as a teenager/young adult so I wouldn't be surprised if I'm just easy to break out.
For my injection site I could choose between stomach and upper thighs. I started with stomach but then moved to upper thighs because I like wearing crop tops in the summer. Scarring seems unlikely (the earliest injections have already healed all the way), but I do have bruises.
Catherio had suggested using ice to numb the skin beforehand and reduce bruising and scarring and it really helped (I didn't get any bruises or have any marks).
She also left this amazing photo, which she graciously allowed me to include:
🧮 This is a simple google sheets calculator on the odds of a live birth (from embryo freezing)
I periodically run across threads that seem like they would be really nice to have when thinking about these topics.
Here’s one about how hard the first 1-2 years are and why
Here’s one about the book Expecting Better (link to someone’s notes in the thread)