Freezing your eggs (as part of our Split program, or otherwise) is likely one of the most complex medical procedures you have gone through. At Cofertility, you’ll have one of our Member Advocates to support you through this process. But you’ll want to become your own advocate too. After all, when it comes to your body, you are your own best spokesperson.
Here are some tips for advocating for yourself during the egg freezing journey:
Establish a dialogue rather than a monologue
Healthcare should be a dialogue. If you don't understand a term or procedure, ask for clarification. If you’re uncertain about how to administer a medication, ask for a demonstration or tutorial. Research shows that effective communication between healthcare providers and patients significantly improves health outcomes.
Take notes and reflect
A considerable amount of information will be shared during your appointments. Taking notes helps you digest this information later, allowing you to make well-informed decisions. It is especially helpful to write down key takeaways from your meeting with your doctor after your AFC ultrasound and AMH blood test, the doctor will give you signal on the protocol they want to follow for you. It can also empower you to hold more meaningful follow-up discussions with your healthcare provider.
Personalize your journey
Each person's egg freezing experience is unique. Don’t hesitate to ask how the general advice you’re receiving applies specifically to you. Contextualizing generic medical advice ensures that your individual needs and conditions are being considered.
Ensure that every healthcare professional you interact with during your egg freezing journey is aware of your goals and treatment plan. Remind them of your preferences, previous monitoring results and any specific concerns you may have. Any time you are interacting with a new person on your care team, remind them of the plan and protocol you have already discussed with the doctor. One the day of your procedure, make sure the embryologist’s team confirms your plan.
Share any updates from the clinic with your Member Advocate so that the Cofertility team can follow your progress closely. Many clinics use an app or portal to communicate directly with just you so it helps to give as much visibility to your Member Advocate as you’re are comfortable with for us to help you with this process.
Seek out community
Medical journeys can be daunting solo endeavors. Seeking community support and shared experiences can not only be emotionally uplifting but also practically insightful. When you freeze your eggs with Cofertility, you get access to our online community of women freezing their eggs at the same time.
Never settle for incomplete information. If you feel something has not been adequately explained, press for more details. Your healthcare provider should be willing to take the time to make sure you fully understand your own medical trajectory. Request a thorough explanation of your fertility testing results, including hormone levels, ovarian reserve, and any potential concerns. Ensure you fully understand what the numbers mean and how they relate to your fertility potential.
Advocating for yourself does not mean challenging the medical establishment but rather engaging with it as an informed and empowered partner. The onus is not solely on the fertility doctor to chart the course of your care; it is a collaborative journey. Equip yourself with the right questions and an assertive mindset as you prepare.
Questions to ask at each stage of egg freezing
You’ll want to be prepared to have savvy, informed dialogues with your egg freezing clinical team. We’ve got you covered! Below are questions you can use to prepare yourself for these important appointments.
The preliminaries: medical background and likely outcomes
It all starts with a comprehensive assessment of your reproductive health. At some point in your journey, you will undergo a fertility assessment including hormone tests (specifically an Anti-Müllerian Hormone, or AMH, test) and an antral follicle count (AFC). These will offer insights into your ovarian reserve.
Questions to ask when you get these results:
- Based on my test results, my age, and my medical history, how many eggs do you expect to retrieve?
- Could any of my pre-existing health conditions affect the procedure? It's important to discuss how conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis might affect the process.
- How many cycles would you suggest I undergo?
- How many follicles do you see? (ask this during your ultrasound)
Read more about questions you should ask at your first egg freezing consultation.
The logistics: planning the procedure
Once you’ve decided to move forward with freezing your eggs, you’ll want to understand more of the logistical details. Your Cofertility advocate will help you navigate your journey, including coordinating timeline and long-term storage of your eggs.
Questions at this stage may include:
- What is the timeline? Understanding the timeframe—from hormonal injections to egg retrieval—helps you plan life around the procedure.
- In case of questions or emergencies, what is the best way to get in contact with my care team or physician?
- How many times should I expect to come to the clinic for ultrasounds or bloodwork?
- Can I see where the egg retrievals take place? This is usually a quick, outpatient procedure, but it’s important to know what to expect.
- Where and how are my eggs stored? Your eggs will likely be frozen using vitrification, but it’s good to understand the storage facility's safety measures.
- Ask your clinic if they have written documentation or can show you your treatment plan at the start of your cycle and prior to your retrieval
- Ask them to confirm your medication dose
- Ask them to confirm your lab plan and confirm it is noted as a Split Cycle where you are keeping half of the eggs retrieved
The process: hormones, retrieval, and storage
There are a lot of nuances to egg freezing, and each patient gets a personalized medication regimen based on how the fertility doctor thinks the ovaries will respond.
- What medication protocol are you thinking of for me? The hormone injection phase usually lasts about 10 to 12 days, but the type and amounts of hormones will be personalized to you.
- Will you take me off, or put me on birth control before the cycle starts?
- Do I need to stop any of my medications? If so, when and for how long?
- Do you suggest that I start (or stop) any supplements?
- What other lifestyle modifications should I consider making?
- Ask your nurse to send you a list of do’s and don’ts post procedure
- What average size have my follicles grown to? Is that the size you would expect at this day of my cycle? (It helps to ask your doctor this after your ultrasounds, especially day 5+ so that you can track a key signal your doctor is monitoring to determine the timing of your trigger shot, which determines the day of your retrieval. Overall, follicles of 16–22 mm on the day of retrieval are more likely to contain mature eggs than smaller follicles).
Partner with your Cofertility Member Advocate
You interact with a lot of people on the course of your egg freezing journey, but you are the only person who is in every single conversation. It is incredibly worthwhile, but it can be a lot to track - that is why your Cofertility Member Advocate plays the role of big sister and project manager to:
- Keep you informed on the process through articles, events, and 1-1 connections
- Share evidence-based research and trustworthy guidance so you can make informed decisions about your fertility
- Liaise between your clinic and other other third parties (e.g., genetic counselors)
- Provide weekly status updates on your journey to keep you informed about progress and potential hurdles
- Schedule your travel (if necessary)
We are your advocates throughout this process and will work with you every step of the way.
As you set forth on your egg freezing journey, the questions outlined in this article can serve as your navigational tools—tools that can help you make educated decisions that are unique to your circumstances and aspirations. As mentioned, your fertility doctor (and if you work with Cofertility, your Member Advocate) are invaluable resources committed to your care, but it's vital to remember that you, too, are an essential part of the team. Your body, your eggs, your future—they are landscapes that only you can fully understand and appreciate.
So prepare to engage in those savvy, informed dialogues with your clinical team. Come armed with your inquiries, your curiosities, and your legitimate concerns. Consider this not just a journey to freeze your eggs, but also an odyssey that crystallizes your autonomy, amplifies your voice, and quite possibly, defines your future. Take those steps with the kind of assurance that only comes from being well-prepared and well-informed. After all, knowledge isn't just power—it's empowerment. And in the delicate, often uncharted territories of reproductive health, empowerment is your true North Star.