When your egg freezing cycle is looming within a few weeks, sh*t can suddenly feel REAL.
Knowing what’s to come and planning accordingly can be liberating and help give you a smoother ride throughout the course of egg freezing.
So, we’re looking at some scheduling and LIFE preparations for you to dive into on the cusp of your egg freezing cycle.
Stick to these practical preps on top of lifestyle considerations like sticking to a balanced, healthy diet and exercise, ditching cigarettes and non-essential drugs and minimizing caffeine and alcohol, to set yourself up for a problem-free procedure...
1. Get Out Your Calendar...And Check It's Flexible
How’s your diary looking over your ovarian stimulation cycle? Kind of like normal?
Hmm...that’s probably ok for the first days of injections.
But after a while, you might want to be prepared just in case you start feeling some side effects. Generally here we’re not talking full on craziness or anything you can’t handle, but it’s just good to be aware that a handful of days into starting hormone injections you’re likely going to start to feel some effects like getting fatigued or starting to experience uncomfortable bloating. Or, y'know, crying at ads.
In our opinion, it’s a good idea to try to “gently” schedule the couple of weeks leading up to your egg freezing retrieval day. That doesn’t mean you have to sign off work...but could you shift some meetings, deadlines and responsibilities back a bit until after "E Day"? You’re going to want to make sure there’s space in your diary for your two weeks worth of appointments, retrieval and then some recovery.
The average egg freezing cycle takes 12 days, but that’s average. It could be 10...or it could be 14. And that’s from the first day of hormone injections (which usually start two to three days after you get your period) right up until the retrieval procedure.
The exact duration is just going to depend on how your ovaries respond to the injections. And really, your ovaries are going to respond at their own pace. The length of time the cycle takes can be affected by your age (sometimes it’s shorter for much younger women doing it) and medical conditions, such as PCOS.
During the treatment cycle, you’re going to need to visit the clinic anywhere from four to eight times for your doctor to scan your ovaries to monitor the growth of your follicles and adjust your meds.
Your clinic might have given you a rough idea of when those appointments are likely to be, but they may change depending how your ovaries are responding. Because you won’t know for sure when you’ll need to go in, it’s important to avoid making any travel plans over the stimulation phase and recovery period.
You can ask your doctor in advance how long they anticipate your cycle taking, but remember, it’s just an educated guesstimate and your body will work to its own timesheet!
One pro tip is to ask the clinic if there’s a window of time during the day that they generally conduct the scans. Block out that window of time in your calendar starting on at least “Day 4” from when you start the injections to help remind you not to schedule any important meetings over that time.
2. Book At Least One Day Off Work
Unequivocally, you will need to take at least 1 day off work for the procedure: that's the morning for the procedure, and the afternoon to rest and recover.
On average, this is going to be on Day 12 of the egg freezing cycle. (But, remember, yours could be a few days sooner or later than that.)
Most doctors say their patients are back at work the day after treatment, but that may not be the case for everyone. In our experience, women who had an above average number of eggs retrieved (which is typical for women with PCOS and younger women) seem to take slightly longer to recover than other women. That may be because the ovaries tend to be more swollen.
So, if your doctor tells you that you’re likely to be a “good responder” and generate many eggs, you might want to anticipate an extra day off for recovery to allow your ovaries to get back down to normal.
It’s tricky to book time off if you’re not sure WHEN you need the day off. And it begs the question: should I tell my boss / co-workers?
There’s no right or wrong answer to this and there’s no legal requirement to - even where companies offer egg freezing as part of a benefits package, it should be an anonymous process, like other healthcare perks. But chatting to your boss about it would likely make scheduling work around your appointments and procedure an easier process.
You never know, they might even suggest you work from home, or cut you some slack on projects. Winner.
And while you’re thinking of that, also...
4. Book in Your "Buddy"
Now’s the time to ask a friend or family member, or someone else you trust, to commit to being your person who picks you up from the clinic, and beyond. Again, you won’t know the exact day yet, so picking someone who can be a little flexible is a smart move.
Maybe, if they have time, you can even ask them to be there throughout the procedure and hang out with you at home afterwards. Just having someone there to watch TV with you (um, bring you snacks) and check you're comfortable can make the world of difference to how quickly you bounce back to normal.
Remember that having the right emotional support in place during your treatment cycle could also help prevent you from having regrets, according to research!
4. Consider Taking a Probiotic
While the egg freezing procedure is safe, there is a risk of reproductive tract infection any time anything is introduced into the vagina, and there's some emerging evidence to suggest a healthy "vaginal microbiome" can help protect you from infections.
The vagina has a few microbial species, but the most dominant type, Lactobacillus, are the ones that are usually recommended for supplementation.
5. Clear Up Any Unknowns
A super practical thing to do is sit down and think through the process and now, while you have the wherewithal.
Being aware and prepared is a sure fire way to bolster your confidence. If you ever feel like there’s something you’re not sure about or that you’ve forgotten, do not be embarrassed to ask.
There are always some “known unknowns” (like how many eggs you’ll retrieve and the exact retrieval day). But, remember that your doctor and medical team are there to provide answers, so you should never feel embarrassed to ask questions, no matter how many of them you have.
If you have any outstanding questions after leaving the clinic, call back and ask. Not only does removing the unknown help keep anxiety levels down, but also double-checking questions about medication, dosages etc. can help prevent mistakes from happening. And we have heard SO MANY STORIES of totally preventable mistakes from happening, thanks to miscommunications and misunderstandings!!!
This is your money, your procedure and your body. Make sure you’re clear about what’s happening to it and why.
6. Double Down on Your Positive Mindset Routine
Don’t underestimate the power of the mind/ovary connection, for better or for worse.
You’re entering a bit of a process, one that’s fuelled by hormones and that has a kind of scary procedure at the end that you might be anxiously anticipating (though, in reality, don’t worry, it really won’t be that scary when it comes to it.)
Keep in mind that depressive symptoms and anxiety (and some coping mechanisms linked to them) are associated with lower rates of pregnancy. While this could be a case of correlation, not causality, some scientists think there could be hormonal effects at play. So it’s not only worth feeling like your best self FOR yourself, but also for your eggs. Self-care is king...or, queen.
If you haven’t been doing it, it’s especially worth making time for during the stimulation cycle when the hormones are running high for meditation, journaling and some super gentle exercise, like talking a walk in the sun...if you’re lucky enough to live somewhere sunny, that is.