Written by Kelle Salle
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If you want to take ownership of your reproductive health, then you’ll definitely explore the different options that are available to you. Egg freezing is one option that has become popular in recent years, with the HFEA revealing that more than 4,000 patients froze their eggs in 2021 (compared to 2,500 in 2019). The HFEA refers to egg freezing as ‘one way of preserving a woman’s fertility so she can try to have a family in the future’. The process involves collecting a woman’s eggs, freezing them and then thawing them later so they can be used in fertility treatment.
While the narrative around egg freezing has changed, there isn’t a lot of information available about the process that has been written with Black women in mind. To add, HFEA data showed that Black women between the ages of 35-39 accounted for only 969 egg freezing cycles. We spoke to Blogger and Podcaster Fawziah A. Qadir about her egg freezing journey. Keep reading for everything you need to know about the process.
When and why did you freeze your eggs?
I decided to freeze my eggs in 2021 after a visit to my OBGYN. I was approaching 36 and it felt like the right time to consider starting the process. I decided to freeze my eggs because I was single and not in a committed relationship, but I knew that I really wanted to have children. Ultimately, I wanted to buy myself some time and secure my future so I could potentially have children when the time is right.
What were some of the things you took into consideration during your search for a clinic?
The first thing I did was ask my OBGYN for recommendations. After following her recommendations and doing my own research, I was able to find a clinic. They were conveniently located and they had offices and facilities around the country so it was perfect for me.
What was your initial appointment with your doctor like?
I went to my initial appointment with a notebook, pen and lots of questions. I wanted to understand how Black women fared during the egg preservation process and if there was anything different that I should be aware of.
What did the egg freezing process involve?
I would describe the process as quite arduous. You need to be available to attend appointments every other day for about 3 weeks. After my initial intake appointment, I was assigned a personal nurse, who would check in on a regular basis to ensure I understood what was happening. At your first appointment, you’ll see a fertility doctor and they’ll talk you through everything and answer any questions you have. After that’s done, you’ll be sent to the nurse to have your bloodwork done and you’ll also have a vaginal ultrasound to look at your uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. During this part of the process, I learned I had an ovarian cyst, which was thankfully nothing to be concerned about.
After this appointment, I spoke to the finance department to decide how I was going to pay for the treatment. Once a payment arrangement was made, I was all set to start the process. I received a refrigerated box of medications, needles and pills with detailed instructions. I started taking the pills that would make me ovulate and produce more eggs. After that, I had to return to the office every other day between 6:00-8:30 am to have bloodwork done (to monitor my oestrogen and other levels). I also had a vaginal ultrasound to check the size of my uterus and ovaries and to see if any follicles (the eggs) were appearing and in which ovary. This process went on for about two weeks. I also had to administer injections. There’s also a moment (about 36 hours before) where you’ll have to take a trigger shot to let the body know that it’s ready for the egg retrieval part of the process.
On the day my eggs were retrieved, I needed to be accompanied by a designated driver because I was put under general anaesthetic. The process took about 30 minutes and you return to recovery soon after before heading home. Doctors do recommend taking the next day off work but you can return the day after. They also advise that you don’t swim or workout for some time and that you might experience some light spotting.
How did you feel when the process was complete?
I was thrilled and felt blessed to have been able to do the procedure. There were a lot of emotions that I just couldn’t put my finger on initially, but I eventually realised that I was feeling a sense of loss because part of me (my eggs) were now gone. That was probably the hormones and having to go through the process alone, but I was able to find a reproductive doula which was great. I felt lonely and wanted someone to share the process with but overall, I was glad with my decision.
Is egg freezing something you’d recommend?
Any woman who knows she wants to be a mother or is thinking about egg freezing should do it. I would definitely recommend starting the process before you turn 35 if you can because I know others who started the process later who were not so fortunate. I was 36 when I froze my eggs and was lucky enough to get 10 viable eggs. However, anyone who decides to freeze their eggs should know that when you do decide to try and get pregnant, you’ll have to go through IVF, which is something I didn’t consider before my appointment. Plus, the doctors recommend that you try and conceive naturally before using your eggs. It is an expensive process but I think Black women should be aware of their options, especially if they are career driven, so they’re not having to choose between having a career and having a family.