7 Women on Egg Freezing: Hope, Regret, Uncertainty

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The process is an intense and arduous journey for many women, riddled with uncertainty, according to stories shared with The New York Times. Among the hundreds of patients who described their experiences, many expressed joy and hope; others spoke of the crushing disappointment that can come with trying to do everything in their power to plan for parenthood, only to find it — as one woman put it — “illusionary.”

These are some of their stories.

Today, the vast majority of women who freeze their eggs do it to preserve fertility: In 2020, only 6 percent of the almost 13,000 women who froze their eggs did so because they had to get chemotherapy or other potentially debilitating treatments.

Jenny Hayes Edwards was one of the first women in the country to preserve her eggs for nonmedical reasons. She first heard about the procedure in 2009 when she was 34 years old. At the time, she owned three restaurants in Colorado and barely had time to go on a date, let alone nurture a serious relationship, get married and have children. “I had zero money, we were in the middle of a recession and I was working 24 hours a day,” she said.

A friend, who was 40 at the time and going through a third, tough round of I.V.F., told Ms. Edwards she wished she had the option of egg freezing when she was younger. Ms. Edwards was persuaded.

She froze her unfertilized eggs in June 2010, before the A.S.R.M.’s official stamp of approval. She sold some jewelry, maxed out a credit card and used a portion of her inheritance to pay for the procedure. Exactly a decade later, in June 2020, the 45-year-old gave birth to a son using her frozen eggs — an outcome that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates occurs in less than 10 percent of women her age or older. Those eggs, she said, had helped her live with less urgency: She left her job, became a health coach and waited to find the right partner, meeting her husband in 2017.

“I approached everything differently knowing that those eggs were there,” she said. “I was calmer about my dating life, and I wasn’t panicked about my biological clock. I feel really proud of myself for being patient.”

Emily Gertsch woke up a few weeks after her 42nd birthday with what she called “intense panic” — the sudden sense that, despite wavering in her 30s, she now knew she wanted to be a mother. Ms. Gertsch lived in New York City at the time and embarked on three separate rounds of egg freezing, one right after the other, in the summer of 2020. She didn’t expect to enjoy the process, she said. But as she sat in the waiting room between seemingly endless blood tests, looking around at rows of other women, masked and spaced out six feet apart, Ms. Gertsch felt a sense of community — something she craved during the pandemic.