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A Girl’s Guide to Egg Freezing

More and more women are delaying having kids by freezing their eggs. The financial cost can run into the tens of thousands of dollars. What is the emotional and physical price?

Step One: Get Scared
DECLINING FERTILITY IS the stuff of nightmares (according to most magazines). Whether it’s the lack of eligible men or the astonishing rate at which a woman’s ability to get pregnant reportedly drops, there’s no time like the present to get oneself to a clinic. Who knows? Maybe your job will pay for it (in exchange for you never actually leaving work).
Step Two: Inject, Inject, Inject
It’s easy to forget (or just never get properly educated about) what egg-freezing entails. For around two weeks, you will be injecting yourself with hormones, up to three times daily, in the stomach and the thigh. Not everyone finds this fun.
Step Three: The Harvest
See the stirrups? You know what to do. Just be warned: you might not just feel “some cramping” after the extraction needles are gone. Instead, you might get something called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the drugs that make your ovaries release eggs cause severe nausea and, for some, may require hospital treatment for excess fluids.
Step Four: Home Invasions
Now it’s time for the rubber to meet the road: can you pass a home pregnancy test? Are you ready for those frozen eggs to be fertilized, then implanted for a possible baby—i.e., in vitro fertilization? A secondary question might be: can you keep track of the bills? Egg-freezing treatments can run as much as $15,000, to say nothing of the cost of implanting them. The success rate for women over 40 who froze their eggs earlier in life is often less than 50 percent.
Step Five: Total Commitment
Perhaps the problem with egg-freezing is that we aren’t going far enough. The next frontier in fertility might just be cryogenics.

Update, 8/7/17: An earlier version misstated the length of injections before egg retrieval. We regret the error.

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