8 Things I Learned From Freezing My Eggs

Jessica Assaf
5 min readSep 12, 2021

--

A few months ago, a friend and mentor who is a few years older than me called and said, “Jessica, freeze your eggs. I’m telling you this because I wish someone told me when I was thirty-one.” Intuitively, I knew she was right — I’m now the exact age my mom was when she had me, and I know I want to have children one day. So I did it.

Here are the eight things I learned throughout the process:

1. You have to be your own advocate

When I told my regular doctor that I was interested in freezing my eggs and I wanted to know more about the process, the safety and what’s involved, she smiled and said, “Do you get your period regularly?” to which I replied, “Yes.” “Well,” she said, “That means you’re fine! You have no need to think about freezing your eggs. You have time.”

This isn’t actually true.

It wasn’t until I went to an OB/GYN and fertility doctor that I learned the truth: having a regular period is not a true indicator of fertility. Until you know your follicle count and AMH level, as well as your egg quality, you’re pretty much in the dark. Advocate for yourself, follow your intuition, and ask the right questions to get the answers you need.

2. Most people don’t think about fertility until it’s too late

As I shared the news that I was freezing my eggs with family and friends, the first thing most people said was, “Why? You’re so young!” My response: “exactly.” I’m young and healthy, which is why I’m doing it now, to freeze young and healthy eggs. As a result, my doctor froze 31 healthy eggs (out of 31 eggs retrieved!)

The majority of women only think about fertility when they’re either ready to have children or when they’re having trouble getting pregnant. In some cases, it’s too late, as our egg count and quality decline every year. Also, this isn’t just a women’s issue: sperm count and quality is half of the equation!

Why don’t we think about fertility preventatively and holistically, as a part of total health, so we can better understand our body’s own innate timing and plan accordingly? All humans should have regular checkpoints throughout our twenties and thirties so fertility awareness is a priority.

3. This is a human health issue and this is a social justice issue

The reality is, freezing your eggs is costly: physically, emotionally, and of course, financially. I was only able to do it because my parents offered to help pay for it. This process was not covered by my insurance, and one round of treatments and the retrieval was about $11K in total.

Reproductive health is a part of overall health, and fertility treatments should be covered by insurance plans. Most insurance plans don’t cover “infertility care,” which includes egg freezing. For women who wait to have children, freezing your eggs enables you to maximize your chances of ultimately having a healthy child, which is a matter of health. The fact that egg freezing is an out-of-pocket expense starting at $10K means that only people who can afford it are able to do it. These treatments should be accessible to all.

4. There’s no shame in fertility awareness

Before I started this process, I didn’t realize how much shame there is in the egg freezing and fertility conversation. Some women perceive egg freezing as a “failure” because it means they haven’t met a partner in time to have children “the old fashioned way.”

It’s time to rescript the fertility conversation and recognize how empowering it is that we have the opportunity to build a new timeline for ourselves and redesign what family planning really means.

By taking action and freezing my eggs, I now know more about my body than ever before, I’m comforted by the fact that my hormone levels and fertility are strong, and now I can take the time to truly know myself and find the best partner and future father of my children.

5. Real friends show up

This process requires a support system, and although I did 99% of the shots myself, having a friend by my side made things significantly easier emotionally. My friend Melissa was my guiding force through it all, taking me to appointments, showing me how to properly mix the drugs, picking me up after my egg retrieval and helping me through the tough recovery period.

Real friends show up in hard times. Who someone is in your life is often revealed in the difficult moments, when things aren’t fun and easy. Pay attention to the people who check in and show support, especially when it’s unsolicited.

6. The human body is built to withstand pain — and it makes us stronger

I used to be scared of needles and shots, and I was shocked when the doctor told me I would be giving myself three shots a day in the stomach and legs for ten days, with IVs, ultrasounds and butt shots in between. By the end I felt like a pro. I happily gave myself my trigger shot (which stimulates ovulation exactly 36 hours later for the egg retrieval) in my car in the dark in between speeches at my friend’s wedding, and I walked back to the party feeling invincible. The whole experience felt like an initiation, showing me my inner strength and bravery.

7. How we recover is just as important as how we battle

The actual egg freezing process isn’t so bad, but the recovery was brutal for me. Because I had so many follicles (26–29 initially counted), my doctor warned me upfront that I’m high risk for a complication called “ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome,” which happens after the retrieval when your ovaries fill with fluid and put pressure on the rest of your body. This did happen, and a few days after the retrieval I experienced shortness of breath, extreme bloating and discomfort. I was forced to do absolutely nothing besides rest for a few days, as it even hurt to move. In those days, I learned just how important recovery is in the healing process.

Until the retrieval, my state of mind was strong, fierce and resilient. During the recovery, I gave myself permission to be soft, sensitive and emotional, which was cathartic and critical to my healing.

8. The sacrifices we make for our children begin far before they are born

For the first time in my life, I felt the words I’ve been hearing for years, that parents will do anything for their children. What I didn’t know is how soon before they’re born this actually begins. Every shot, doctor’s appointment, blood test and ultrasound, was worth it because I know I am doing everything in my power to protect the health of my future children. I surrendered my fears, my schedule, my priorities, and my body to endure this process and commit to the family I want to create. I could almost feel my future babies’ energy while I injected every needle.

It was chilling, heart-bursting and overwhelming all at once — just like I imagine parenthood to be — and I’d do it again and again and again, for them.

--

--

Jessica Assaf

Entrepreneur and activist on a mission to use business to transform health and wellbeing. Co-founder + Chief Education Officer of Prima. www.prima.co