It doesn’t help that no one really talks about these things until you start asking around. Womanhood is a whisper network – all of us are silently carrying around pain, discomfort, and fear, but because of the shame associated with “womens’ issues” (gross), we tend to keep quiet about it. Keeping quiet generally does not work for me, so anytime anything is getting weird below my belt I’m basically on a PR campaign trying to find answers and spread awareness of whatever it is I’m working through (cut to me texting 20 of my closest girlfriends and female relations about just how much blood in your pee is concerning when you have a UTI).
My latest obsession is: Why does no one talk about fertility until it’s a problem?
It’s February 2022 and I’m 33 years old. I’m single, I have been for awhile, and I don’t want to rush that decision just because my clock is ticking. So, I decided to try to stop the clock. I started looking into egg freezing after a friend mentioned her egg freezing experience at happy hour. You should look into it, she said. People don’t really talk about this, but your fertility cliff is in your late thirties. Fertility cliff? Of course. Yet another fun journey through the funhouse.
Within a week I had read three different books about egg freezing and fertility, and done some research on cost (spoiler, it’s high! A single cycle averages from $6,000 to $20,000, which doesn't include the $500-$600 yearly storage costs.) Then, I stumbled into a really incredible gift: I found out that the company I work for offers a fertility benefit. At first I had trouble believing it – I got on the phone with the provider to confirm, and I was stunned to learn that on average, my employer’s coverage took care of 90% of the financial burden of an egg freezing cycle. I immediately mentioned this to at least 10 of my female coworkers – did you know? Have you done this? Tell everyone! Get in while the getting is good! I also reached out to some of my gay friends at work – the benefit extends to any couple trying to conceive, and that can mean surrogacy or adoption. I also mention it to everyone I know that’s interested in positions with my employer.
My consultation with the doctor at the fertility clinic was one of the most affirming experiences with a care provider I’ve ever had – she told me that I was a good candidate, and that I had more than enough time (statistically) to naturally conceive and carry a healthy baby to term. I started telling a bunch of my friends: My doctor says I’m arguably too young to be doing this, that the fertility “cliff” is (on average) closer to 38, I have time, we have time! Because I can’t shut up, I started sharing my experience with the process on Instagram, and I was stunned how many people have questions, wanted to know more, or had been through their own harrowing fertility journey. Wait til the progesterone shot, commented a good friend from high school. It’s basically the consistency of peanut butter. Friends who’d frozen their eggs or done egg retrieval for IVF were heaping advice on me: Make sure you double the amount of water you’re drinking, get some electrolytes and eat a lot of protein post retrieval.
Why didn’t I know about any of this before? Moving on to the next room in my funhouse, I finally actually learned about the nitty gritty of a woman’s reproductive system. There’s no good reason for women (and men, but that’s an entirely different post) not to know the difference between the follicular and luteal phases of the cycle, what the corpus luteum is, how long sperm can survive, the list goes on.
Three months, 27 self-administered hormone injections, and 3,000 Instagram stories later, I have 23 eggs on ice and a little more peace of mind. I still have so many questions.
Until the next funhouse phase of having a female body comes in,