“I wish I had known that egg quality and egg quantity are two very different things and that egg quality can be impacted by a lot of factors, many of which are in your control.” Shannon Gallagher planned to freeze her eggs in order to delay parenthood.
Name: Shannon Gallagher (Co-founder, Bird&Be)
Diagnosis: Unexplained Infertility
Location: Ottawa, Canada
Bird&Be Product: The Powers for Females
Best piece of advice: Prepare for egg freezing like you would prepare for IVF; you want to put your best "eggs" forward.
How did you first learn about egg freezing?
I think I first learned about it seriously when I was working in tech. I was connected with a startup that wanted to provide fertility testing at home and then refer people to egg-freezing clinics. I wasn't seriously considering freezing my eggs at the time but was interested in learning more about my fertility health.
How did you know it was something you were interested in doing?
As I went through the process of getting test results, I started to think about it more seriously. I wanted to have some control over my timeline for starting a family, and frankly, I was getting older. In terms of my personal life, I had started dating my now-spouse, but it was early in our relationship and I wanted that personal insurance for myself. My professional life was busy and fulfilling and I didn't want my biological clock (or any anxiety over my biological clock) to impact my career timeline, either. Importantly, it also became more financially viable for me to do so at that time.
Was there anything that held you back initially?
For sure—I was scared! One of the biggest things was my fear of needles. I'd had a serious phobia of needles since I was an infant—we're talking passing out at the doctor's level of fear. But I was also starting to finally work this out (through exposure therapy from B12 injections) and felt like I was strong enough to go through with it.
Aside from that there was the financial consideration. In hindsight, if there's one thing I wish I could have done differently is to have frozen my eggs when I was in my twenties. But, it wouldn't have been possible for me to do so at the time, and there weren't the same resources there are available today.
Did you receive any advice or clinical information from a doctor or fertility clinic?
Did you talk to friends and family about pursuing egg freezing?
What was the process like?
Did you have a pre-egg freezing plan?
No, and that's one of my biggest regrets. After receiving the unexplained infertility diagnosis I decided to take matters into my own hands and research what this could actually mean for my fertility moving forward. I learned so much more than the fertility clinic gave me at the time, and through learning about others' experiences and doing my own research I learned that my road to parenthood was nowhere near over. Now, that knowledge fuels my passion to help people become informed about how to optimize their fertility as early and as young as possible.
How much did it cost?
Everything except the medication was around $9,000 CAD, the medication was in the range of $5,000 CAD. The annual fee for storage at my clinic is $500 CAD.
What do you wish you would have known before embarking on your egg freezing journey?
I wish I had known that egg quality and egg quantity are two very different things and that egg quality can be impacted by a lot of factors, many of which are in your control.
I would have started taking a high quality preconception supplement (like our The Powers for Females) at least three months before starting the process, I would have modified my eating and drinking habits to reduce inflammation in my body in preparation, I would have avoided hot tubs and made a bunch of other changes ahead of time. At least then I would have had confidence that my results were as optimal as I could make them. Instead, I didn't know how much of my results were because of what was in my control versus what was not.
That's exactly what I ended up doing after the egg freezing process: I made all of those lifestyle changes, contacted a new clinic and embarked on the IVF process with my (same) partner. Spoiler alert—my results were much better the second time. You can read about my first embryo transfer here.
What is your plan for your frozen eggs?
The eight eggs that were successfully frozen are being stored. After consulting with my new clinic during my second round of IVF, we decided that it would be better to start from scratch rather than to try and use those eggs immediately. Since the second round was successful and I am currently pregnant, they will stay frozen until or if we need them in the future.
How did freezing your eggs impact your long-term plans and goals?
One thing I absolutely do not regret is having gone through the egg-freezing process—without the results and diagnosis I would have gone on for a few more years (and probably tried without intervention for years) before getting diagnosed. The experience kick-started my personal fertility journey and brought my fertility health to the forefront of my life. While that journey has been exhausting at times, I wouldn't change it for the world else I wouldn't have reached my family goals.