“Having knowledge is power and knowing where my body was at was an education—I realized I had to prioritize myself and my future if I wanted kids.” Deana Sdao opted to freeze her eggs once she hit thirty and her company started offering financial help.
Name: Deana Sdao
Location: Toronto, Canada
Best piece of advice: Reach out to others who have gone through this. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid because you are not alone in this process. Learn from others!
How did you first learn about egg freezing?
When I was in my mid-twenties, I had read some articles on it, but it felt like a taboo topic. What really got me thinking about it was when two of my cousins were approached at a restaurant; one of my cousins was in her thirties, while the other was in her twenties. The woman who was talking to them said my cousin in her twenties would be the ideal candidate, while she mentioned to my cousin in her thirties that her eggs might not be as viable. It has always stuck in the back of my mind since I heard that story, and I realized when I hit 30 that I better start looking into it if I was serious.
How did you know it was something you were interested in doing?
Initially, I had done a bit of research into the process. Back then there wasn’t a whole lot of information online and whatever I could find was pretty vague so I pushed it to the side. It wasn’t until I was 30 and single that the process had some viability for me.
Then, in the fall of 2021, I started a new role at a tech company called Xero. Because I wanted to ensure my professional life was in a good spot, I put egg freezing on the back burner. In the summer of 2022, Xero announced a benefit that provided $12,400 CAD towards fertility. That was when I started to make moves towards completing the procedure in the winter of 2023.
My personal life definitely impacted my decision to freeze my eggs. I started dating my now-partner in fall of 2021 and still felt the need to preserve my eggs, given my low egg count. I realized that with even being in a relationship, I needed to do this for myself to ensure I had a back-up plan if I wanted to have kids in the future—with a partner or not.
My professional life really is what played the biggest impact in my decision. The work benefit is ultimately what got the ball rolling for me. In addition to this, my boss was extremely supportive of me taking time off to have the procedure done.
In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t waited for the “right” moment to do it or for the financial support.
Was there anything that held you back initially?
Definitely! Fear is what held me back initially. Everything I had read said it was a difficult procedure. I wish that I had never read that! The fear held me back for years.
Now having had the procedure, it wasn’t what I experienced. Yes, it’s not the most comfortable feeling in the world and the two months of prep, body changes and having an invasive procedure suck, but it was definitely worth it.
In addition, monetary resources were also an issue for me. I was extremely lucky that my workplace had a benefit I could utilize, but before this came into the picture, the cost held me back. I recommend everyone explore their workplace benefits before ruling it out completely. After my procedure, I found out my own workplace benefits (outside of the fertility benefit) helped cover the cost of medications! It’s worth looking into!
Did you receive any advice or clinical information from a doctor or fertility clinic?
I actually started my AHM testing through my naturopath, who has a focus on fertility. She recommended a few of the fertility clinics in Toronto as she had patients who had gone through the process, and advised me that it was completely normal. After I found the right fertility clinic for me, I also had a few phone calls with the nurses and doctors prior to going in.
Did you talk to friends and family about pursuing egg freezing?
I kept an open and transparent conversation going—I actually shared my entire story, process and procedure, on my Instagram. Once I shared my very first story about what I was going through, I was met with a flood of messages; over 400 messages from friends, family members and people who found me online, about their own journeys. I had no idea so many of my friends privately struggled with this!
What was the process like?
Overall, the process was emotionally and physically taxing. There were a lot of ups and downs. I found the easiest parts to be the ultrasounds, bloodwork and the procedure itself. The hardest part for me was the needles, the bloating and the toll it took on my mental health.
How long did it take?
My very first ultrasound was in December, 2022. I purposely waited until the middle of winter to start my process, when my social and work life would be less busy. My second ultrasound was in January, which was where they were able to tell my baseline egg count. By the time I completed the entire process, it was the end of March, 2023. Physically, I was okay within two weeks of the procedure, but I didn’t feel like myself again until around May.
How much did it cost?
In total, my entire procedure was $16,213 CAD. The surgery itself was $8,650 and the medications were $7,142. The difference was made up by ultrasounds and blood work. This doesn’t include the yearly storage fee (around $250 to 500 per year).
How did you feel about the process?
My emotions were all over the map. One day I would feel in control of the process, and the next day, I’d feel the opposite. I quickly understood that I just had to take it day by day.
What surprised you the most?
Administering three needles to myself each day was not an easy feat! I’ve never given a needle to someone before, let alone given one to myself. The first time I had to, I had a 30-minute panic attack. It got easier day by day.
The other aspect was mental health. Admittedly and surprisingly, I struggled with suicidal thoughts during my egg freezing journey, something that I had never experienced before. I was very transparent with my partner about these feelings and doing so allowed him to make sure I was supported throughout the journey. I strongly recommend giving a few people in your network a heads up, so they can support you throughout this!
I was also surprised about how quickly I was back to working. My procedure was in the middle of the week and I only ended up taking two days off work. Although I was not able to exercise, I was feeling great within those two days and was comfortable enough to work remotely, even with mild ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
Before going into this process, I didn’t realize that IVF is a similar journey just with a different end point. It really made me understand the importance of family planning and having knowledge on my own body. It’s made me more compassionate and understanding on the subject and I have a more positive outlook.
How did you feel after going through it?
Right after the procedure, I definitely had a rough time. My body was still heavy with medication and it took me about three to five days after the procedure to finish my last round of shots. It took me a few weeks to feel like myself again.
But, now that I am completely on the other side, I feel empowered. I took control of my own narrative and fertility journey and it feels great.
What do you wish you would have known before embarking on your egg freezing journey?
I wish I knew that the procedure itself wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The worst part of my journey was the month leading up to it and the two to three weeks after the procedure. Before my procedure, I was not able to exercise or drink alcohol while giving myself injections. For the two to three weeks after the procedure, because of the mild OHSS, I was still not able to exercise, have alcohol or even caffeine. These were things that no one told me about. In fact, I even had to ask my clinic about what I had to limit because no one mentioned this to me.
I also wish people were transparent about the mental health aspect. I’m sure it doesn’t happen to everyone, but my mental health really suffered two weeks leading up to the surgery and until about a month after surgery.
What is your plan for your frozen eggs?
After going through the process, I had a total of 12 viable eggs. My plan is to keep them frozen for a few more years. My partner and I plan to try naturally in the future before moving into our egg reserve.
Did you have any regrets or second thoughts during or after the process
Honestly, I’ve had no regrets or second thoughts. In fact, I wish I had the monetary resources and time to be able to do a second round.
How did freezing your eggs impact your long-term plans and goals?
Having knowledge is power and knowing where my body was at was an education. I realized I had to prioritize myself and my future if I wanted kids. It hasn’t really impacted my long-term plans, but it’s given me the right tools to help support those plans and goals.
Are there any misconceptions about egg freezing that you would like to address based on your own experience?
More people have done it than you realize! Once I started sharing my journey on social media, people within my network started reaching out about their own experiences. Prior to me sharing it, I didn’t have any open conversations with friends or family about their own journeys.
I also think that people don’t realize how much goes into it. My first ultrasound was in December of 2022, and my procedure date was March 21, 2023. By the time I felt physically and mentally healed, it was May 2023. It’s not a small thing for your body to go through!