'Why, as I single 26-year-old, I've just frozen my eggs'
"I feel like I’ve taken back what little control I have."
Egg freezing, though expensive and invasive, is becoming more and more common as women decide to take control of their fertility.
For some it's a sort of lifestyle choice - but for others it's a way to fight back against an illness that could compromise their chance of motherhood.
Dublin woman Orla Donnelly, 26, last month had her eggs frozen after learning that her endometriosis had impacted on her fertility.
Here, in her own words, she tells us how she came to the decision and how she found the experience.
"For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted a big family.
"I used to joke that myself, my fictitious husband and my five children could have our own basketball team, subs and all. So when the doctor sat me down and told me that my AMH (the hormone in a woman's blood that indicates her ovarian reserve) levels were low for my age when I was 24, I was devastated to say the least.
"I had, at that stage, undergone four surgeries for endometriosis, a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the womb is found in areas outside of the womb. That diagnosis alone meant there was a chance that I would struggle to conceive naturally, but what I was not aware of was the damage the repeated surgeries were having on my ovarian reserve.
"I felt lost and alone. My friends were all moving on with their lives, enjoying being in their early twenties; traveling, moving out and I was grieving a life I had always imagined myself living. It was not something I imagined facing at 24. It hit me hard, harder than I let on and harder than I’ve been willing to admit until now. Due to complications of the endometriosis I had to have an unscheduled fifth surgery last November.
"I was aware this meant my ovarian reserve was going to be depleted even further. It was during the time I was recovering from surgery that I began to properly research freezing my eggs.
"I tried to be as proactive and positive as I could. I will be having my sixth surgery soon and I wasn’t willing to give up on being a mother some day. This gave me the push I needed so I contacted a fertility clinic in August and booked a consultation and began the process of freezing my eggs.
"I injected myself three times a day every day for 12 days. I had a scan every second day to see how the follicles were progressing and then, thankfully, I had a successful egg collection in September. The entire process cost around €3,500 and took around a month from my initial consultation.
"I realise for a lot of people, they don’t think about their fertility until they are actively trying to have a baby. I understand the surprise when I say as a single 26 year old that I froze my eggs, but had I not been proactive about my fertility I could be completely oblivious to the fact that I was essentially running out of time.
"Freezing my eggs has allowed me to hope again. I feel like I’ve taken back what little control I have over this disease and regardless of if I am able to conceive naturally or whether I one day use the eggs I’ve frozen or choose to adopt, I know I’ll be a mother some day."
Orla has documented her story of endometriosis and egg freezing on her Instagram page, @orlanidhonnaile.
This October is Fertility Month on Her, when we’ll be talking all things reproductive health and having babies.
You can check out all of our Fertility Month articles here.
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