Dria Murphy shares her personal story with the process.
At 34 years old, I embarked on a journey to freeze my eggs. I made this choice because I am certain that I want children, and having a family is incredibly important to me. However, I haven't yet found the right person. Freezing my eggs removed the time constraints of having a child and relieved my anxiety. Putting yourself first can be difficult, especially as a woman, but taking this step was crucial for my future.
I am passionate about sharing my journey because there is so much I wish I had known before starting the process. If I have one regret about the experience, it is not assessing all of my options sooner.
The earlier you educate yourself on the how, why, and when, the better you set yourself up for success.
After researching and interviewing several fertility specialists, I felt fortunate to discover Spring Fertility and Dr. Fischer. Spring prioritizes accessibility and personalized care, and Dr. Fischer guided me through the entire process in a nonjudgmental manner. This was especially important to me as a single female seeking fertility treatment.
During my first appointment, I was relieved to learn that I wouldn't need to remove my IUD but surprised to discover that I have PCOS. I was frustrated that no other doctor had diagnosed me before, as having a lot of follicles (more follicles = more eggs) can affect the quality of your eggs. Had I known this earlier, I might have frozen mine sooner. To optimize my results, I accelerated my timeline and completed the process in about two months. Though I was terrified and anxious once I set a date, I found comfort in the knowledge that I trusted my doctor and clinic, despite being single and far from family.
The next step was an ultrasound and bloodwork. Though I was mentally prepared to proceed, I encountered a setback: an ovarian cyst, common in women with PCOS, had to burst before I could move forward. I remember feeling annoyed and upset because I believed I could fully control the process. In hindsight, I realize that's not the best way to approach it.
You have to give your body and mind some grace to do this on whatever timeline it needs.
After my cyst was resolved, medication was delivered to my apartment: a nightly self-administered injection for 8-11 days. Although intimidating at first, you quickly become a pro. I wasn't expecting to have to mix and measure what I was injecting each day, but I was grateful that Spring Fertility always had someone on call. Throughout the process, I had a dedicated nurse who I Facetimed on the first night to calm my anxiety and ensure I had mixed the shot correctly.
The first six days of injections were pretty straightforward. I didn't notice any significant changes. The following six days were a different story. Administering the shots didn't bother me anymore, but extreme bloating and discomfort had begun. At this stage, you go for an ultrasound and bloodwork every other day. I'll never forget my midway appointment when my doctor said, "Your eggs are a little late to the party." Panic set in. Was I doing all of this for nothing? Am I a failure? What does this mean for my future?
After every appointment, I would get a matcha and write. Injecting yourself with hormones daily is a rollercoaster of highs and lows, so it's important to reflect. Had I been aware of how drastically things can change each day, I would've gone much easier on myself. The process is hard enough physically, so treat your mental self with equal kindness.
From then on, things escalated. I couldn't work out. Everything was a struggle. I was so sensitive and bloated. My boobs felt huge. The shots that final night took their toll. I was feeling very alone, both physically and emotionally. I didn't feel in control of my body and was over it. I remember crying myself to sleep that night, subconsciously knowing, "This is the hormones, Dria. You'll be okay."
At my appointment the next day, I told Dr. Fischer, "If I have to do one more night of this, I'm not going to be able to handle it." She replied, "Take a deep breath and let's look at what's going on." After the ultrasound and bloodwork, she told me, "You're not going to like me right now, but we need to do one more night of shots." I'd been pretty strong up until then, but I broke down completely in her office. Dr. Fischer helped me through it, and the nurses couldn't have been more supportive.
That night I was stronger than ever (it's incredible how strong you can be when you have to) and finally got the go-ahead for the retrieval the next day.
The retrieval surgery for my eggs went seamlessly. I received a call while in an Uber on my way home, informing me of how many viable eggs were collected. The extra days of shots made all the difference; the result was incredible! After being newly diagnosed with PCOS and going through a rollercoaster of emotions, I was in shock.
However, the recovery process was a little blindsiding. While I felt relieved it was over, the recovery was worse than I anticipated. I shared some of my experience on social media and received feedback from many women who had experienced the same thing yet felt alone at the time, as no one talks about the aftermath. Given my size and how many eggs were retrieved, I learned that my recovery was worse than most. For three to four days, I could barely leave the couch and had to use a heating pad—imagine cramps multiplied by 100, little-to-no energy, and major bloating. Sharing this pain is not meant to discourage or scare anyone; our bodies can take more than we think.
Going through such an emotional process centered around creating a family while being single can take time to process, especially in the present. It got worse before it got better, but it's important to rest, listen to your body, and allow it time to heal. Your body did an incredible thing, and what you went through is a big deal. Honor it!
Looking back a year later, I feel empowered. I couldn't be more confident in my decision and timing. It's allowed me to enjoy dating again and focus on what and who makes me happy.
The sacrifices we make for our children begin before they are born.
I only considered this after starting the process. I sacrificed my body and schedule, overcame my fears, and tested my inner strength, all for the future family I want to create. If necessary, I'd do it all over again tomorrow.
🩺 SCIENCE AND SPIRIT 👁️
🧑⚕️ from Spring Fertility’s Dr. Fischer
I'm happy that there are conversations happening about fertility preservation because knowledge is power. Women need to carefully consider what they want their future to be. Is it building a family and having children? Unfortunately, they need to factor in potential changes that may occur in the next decade. While you don't need to make a decision right away, it's important to have this knowledge because fertility and having a family can become more challenging as you get older.
Dria's story is familiar. People come to fertility preservation for different reasons, and it's important to debunk the classic narrative that you're getting older, and your life isn't playing out the way you thought it would. That narrative suggests you're giving up power and choice, but that's not the only reason women choose to preserve their fertility. Many ambitious women in their 30s and early 40s are doing this because they want to focus on their careers and can't factor in a family right now. Doctors never judge patients, so don't worry about being judged for your choices.
When it comes to fertility preservation, there are many myths and uncertainties surrounding women's health. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:
- There is no "right" age to freeze your eggs. Although there are benefits to freezing your eggs when you're younger, such as the quantity and quality of eggs that can be retrieved, it's ultimately an individual decision. I recommend that women come in for an initial consultation as they begin considering whether egg freezing is right for them, because every person's body is different. During the consultation, you may learn information that could influence your decision, either by speeding up or delaying your timeline.
- Another common misconception is that women are concerned that freezing their eggs borrows from their future store of eggs. This is not true. During an egg retrieval cycle, we simply recruit a cohort of follicles that would have otherwise disappeared.
- There is no perfect time to freeze your eggs during a cycle. Egg freezing can begin almost any time, but ideally on the 3rd day of your period or the 21st day of your cycle, and then it takes about 10-12 days of injections.
- The injections are synthetic versions of natural hormones. Many people wonder about the side effects of these medications, which is reasonable. However, your body doesn't differentiate between my injection of hormones and your brain sending the hormone. This is why the injections work. The goal is to have enough hormones to grow the eggs you have. Thus, every protocol is individualized, depending on body weight and the number of eggs the woman has.
- Different women have different experiences with egg freezing, depending on how many follicles or eggs are growing. If a woman has two follicles growing, she feels very little. But if she has 20-30, she feels it because it is a physical growth. The purpose of taking the injections is to grow multiple follicles of multiple eggs. However, when you go to retrieve them, they have to have ovulated or been released.
- The trigger shot is timed precisely, and it's the only shot we're particular about when it comes to timing because we want those eggs to be peeled off of the wall. Every woman is different here, so it can be a stressful point for many patients. If you can't get the shot immediately, you may begin to freak out. I remember the day so well with Dria when I had to push her another night, and I could tell she was at the end of her rope, which is not uncommon. Some people who come to egg or embryo freezing walk into this casually, but they don't understand that no matter what the reason is that got them in the door, it's emotional. You want to succeed; you don't want bumps in the road. You want to check this box and keep moving forward. However, if anything comes up, sometimes you're not at your best to handle it because the emotions are really high. Thus, having a support system, whether it be friends or the team helping you with egg freezing, is critical. That's how you can get through this and still have an experience like Dria's. It was tough for her, but she would do it over again 100 times. That's where it's essential. Sometimes this is really hard, but you can do it, and women can do anything if they have the right team behind them.
Spring Fertility is re-imagining fertility care and partnering with patients to help them achieve their goals. Spring believes that patients deserve superior clinical outcomes without compromising compassionate, patient-centric care, and they offer comprehensive fertility services, including IVF, egg and embryo freezing, and preimplantation genetic screening. Use code "dria" for $150 off your first consultation.
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