For those who aren’t ready to start a family just yet, or want to ensure they have the option down the line, egg-freezing is on the rise.
The process, in which eggs are harvested, frozen, and stored for later use, is even being offered as a fertility benefit by some companies. Facebook and Apple started covering employee egg freezing in 2014, with other major Silicon Valley companies following suit. Pinterest announced in December 2021 that two cycles of IVF and egg-freezing will be available for every employee globally. Financial institutions have also jumped on the bandwagon.
This trend fits into the larger, rising demand for egg-freezing, one that was only accentuated by the pandemic. Clinics across the United States and the United Kingdom have seen a surge of patients freezing their eggs in the past few years.
The egg freezing process is complicated, and online conversations on the topic sometimes lack nuance. Across the internet, tons of information surrounding egg freezing exists. But the amount of information out there is vast, which sometimes makes it hard to navigate.
The process itself may also evoke complicated feelings. Dr. Cesar Diaz-Garcia, Medical Director at fertility clinic IVI London, says that the egg-freezing procedure can “bring up unexpected emotions”.
“It’s important to recognize that freezing eggs is a big decision for many people, and so it’s a good idea to have a supportive partner, friend or family member to be there for you during the process,” he says.
Social media, too, can provide a sense of community. Within some spaces online, people who are freezing their eggs can find support, solace, and guidance, from those undergoing or having experienced the process themselves.
Explore a variety of platforms
As Mashable’s Rachel Kraus explored, social media is rife with advertisements about egg freezing. However, those ads may not be the best resource for finding answers. They are more aimed at promoting a business, rather than aiding the individual, glossing over the cost, process, and more.
Instead, there are forums and groups that facilitate community-led conversations. On Facebook, for example, several private support groups exist for this purpose. The questions and answers here are niche and led by people who have undergone the process themselves.
Egg Freezing Support Community, for example, is a Facebook group made for those who are curious about egg freezing. “If you are wondering if egg freezing is right for you, or when the right time to freeze your eggs is or how the process of egg freezing goes, then this is the right place for you!”, the group’s description reads.
Chloe Quinn, the founder and admin of the group, tells Mashable that the group has grown “exponentially” since its inception: “I had only dreamed it would be as helpful and supportive as it is today.”
“Egg freezing is a lonely, scary and expensive process. It can be draining on emotions and mental health, which is why support from women that understand what you’re going through is so important,” Quinn, who is an advanced registered nurse practitioner, says. “We aim to keep it as positive and supportive as possible without giving false hopes and unattainable expectations.”
The members of the group (or “egg tribe” as they like to call themselves”) value their privacy, Quinn says. The group has strict guidelines against harassment, abuse, and spam. Its private nature also allows for open conversations.
Another option is Reddit, where egg freezing threads often get high engagement. Like Facebook, it provides a space to anonymously and openly ask for advice.
Take r/AskWomenOver30, a popular subreddit with 130,000 members. Here, people have asked a number of questions on egg freezing, including How stressful is freezing eggs? and How much should it cost to freeze my eggs? /Should I do it?
Similarly, groups like r/IVF and r/SingleMothersbyChoice, also offer the space to ask such questions or share personal experiences on the subject of egg freezing. Conversations include navigating dating while freezing your eggs or egg freezing when your period is irregular.
Across Twitter and Instagram, people who have frozen their eggs have also shared their stories; there are multiple threads and posts, sharing the emotional nuances that go hand-in-hand with egg freezing. Maxime Billick, a Resident Physician at the University of Toronto, chose to freeze her eggs in January of this year. She took to Twitter to share her experience, in an honest and comprehensive thread. She included resources from medical journals, pictures of herself undergoing the process, and why she chose to do this.
Billick said the response to her thread was “incredible”.
“Many people opened up to me after this post, or asked questions, or showed interest,” she says.
Dr. Safina Adatia also shared her personal egg freezing journey on a Twitter thread that reaped a similarly positive response.
“I wanted to speak out about my experience to hopefully help and inspire other young women to do the same,” she tells Mashable. “I can’t tell you how many women messaged me saying they were considering it and were so glad I shared as my post gave them the push they needed to pursue it for themselves.”
Both women who shared these threads said they did so because they felt they hadn’t heard about others’ experiences while they went through the process. And they wish they had.
On Instagram, such conversations also appear under the hashtag #eggfreezing, which has over 54,000 posts and counting. Other communities on Instagram exist under #eggfreezingjourney, #fertilitypreservation, and #eggretrieval. Here, there are posts from individuals, charities, and organizations, each united in sharing the complexities of the fertility journey. Doctors share bright infographics about the egg retrieval process; women post pictures of the procedure, outlining in their caption what it took to get to this place. Posts are reflective and empowering, transparently explaining the personal motivation to extend fertility.
Writer Seetal Savla chose to share her own egg-retrieval and fertility story online in 2019, but prior to this, she observed communities and resources from others on Instagram. “At first, I simply absorbed their experiences without engaging with them in any way. Reading stories about people (predominantly women) battling similar issues made me feel seen at last.”
Ask the right questions for you
Egg freezing can be a confusing time, with all sorts of questions arising depending on the individual. If joining a support group or reaching out to people online, asking the right questions can be crucial.
Kayleigh Hartigan, the founder of Fertility Mapper (a website that aims to provide clear information on fertility clinics), says that “there is a lot of information out there” and navigating this information requires some thought.
“In starting this process, ask: What do I want to know?” she says. “Everyone will have things that are more or less important to them.” She says that writing down such questions can help soothe the sense of overwhelm that accompanies the egg freezing process.
Hartigan encourages people to find a community tailored to the individual and their questions before embarking on the egg-freezing journey. These queries can range from the right clinic or nutritional advice to how to balance the process with work and a social life.
“These questions can be anything from: how to find a clinic, how much it will cost, how the process will work, how it will feel, should they do anything to prepare for the process such as getting fit or changing nutritional behaviour…” she explains.
She recommends this practice can then help in discovering the right communities and information. “The fertility journey can be hugely emotionally draining and physically challenging. When you’re in that process, you want the right care,” she says. “It’s just really complicated: it involves finance, emotions, healthcare.”
Beware of misinformation
There is a disclaimer, though: there’s a chance of misinformation and false advertising when looking at such hashtags on Instagram or exploring private groups. Weeding out such posts is important, and asking questions along the way is key. Dr. Adatia said if there are any hesitations, confer with your personal doctor or a medical professional.
“I would advise to read everything with caution and check the sources of your information to ensure they’re reliable,” she recommends. “This type of procedure can be tough and [if] you’re paying out of pocket, it’s important that you’re engaging with your doctor to ensure whomever is helping you with fertility is reliable and safe.”
Billick says the same, telling Mashable, “Go to a physician who you trust, someone who’s grounded in the medicine, someone who has experience.”
She also said that many of her friends encountered misinformation online: “I suspect if there’s a lot of information out there that’s incorrect. I’ve had friends who have been told to buy thousands of dollars worth of supplements to ‘improve their egg quality'”, she says.
Many of the people in these online spaces, however, are just looking to inspire or support others.
“It’s a privilege to provide comfort to others online, and be entrusted with their personal stories,” as Savla says.
Hartigan says that many people who share their experiences online are “desperate to help other people”, while also reflecting for themselves.
“It’s a virtuous cycle,” she says. “And some people are not comfortable sharing their stories with their IRL friends/family so going on line means you can connect and hear from people going through the process which might not be possible offline.”