I wish I had done it sooner because it was so much easier that I thought it was going to be.

- Lauren

LaurenLike many people who consider freezing their eggs, Lauren was hesitant because of the unknowns that came with the process. It can seem like a complicated adventure with an unclear path. She was nervous about self-administering hormone injections at specific times, how her body might feel, and keeping up with follow-up appointments. However, thanks to the team at the MGH Fertility Center, Lauren’s experience left her wondering why she didn’t freeze her eggs sooner.

Despite being in a relationship, Lauren knew she wasn’t quite ready to start a family. But at 37, the Charlestown resident wondered how many years she had left to have children. As an employee at Mass General, Lauren was familiar with the Fertility Center within the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, and after a friend and a co-worker both had success, she was finally encouraged to begin the process with Mass General infertility specialist, Irene Dimitriadis, MD.

The Path to Egg Retrieval

Lauren first considered freezing her eggs in her early 30s. She had met with the MGH Fertility Center team twice before, but each time she felt like she should wait a little longer to make a decision.

“Freezing my eggs was honestly something I’ve wanted to do, but since the process basically involves going through a full in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle except for embryo creation, I had always found excuses not to do it,” said Lauren. “Whether it was because of COVID, not wanting to put my body through the process, or feeling like I was still young enough to conceive, I kept talking myself out of it.”

For the next five years, Lauren continued on with her life, the thought of freezing her eggs still in the back of her mind. But during a checkup in October 2022 with her primary care physician, the topic of her previous visits to the Fertility Center came up. Lauren’s doctor asked, “why don’t you go back and meet with the team?” With the encouragement of her doctor, Lauren decided to book another appointment.

A Good Candidate for Success

A few months later, Lauren visited the Fertility Center again: this time, she met with Dr. Dimitriadis. During the meeting, Dr. Dimitriadis presented Lauren with a full picture of her fertility and family planning possibilities, reviewing Lauren’s chances of becoming pregnant based on her age and the number of follicles she had. But most importantly, the meeting with Dr. Dimitriadis empowered Lauren with the knowledge she needed to make an informed decision.

“After initial testing, Dr. Dimitriadis told me that I would be a good candidate for freezing my eggs. But she never forced me to make a decision. She told me, ‘we have all the information we need, but it’s in your hands now. It’s up to you,’” Lauren said. “Even though at that time I was still a little uneasy about the egg-freezing process, I left the meeting feeling like now I had the information I needed to make the best choice for myself.”

“Fertility preservation is optional and ultimately a personal decision—a type of insurance policy, if you wish,” said Dr. Dimitriadis. “Our role as part of a care team is to educate our patients and inform them of their options, but the decision to proceed is theirs to make.”

Later that year in October, Lauren decided that she was ready. And so, she called Dr. Dimitriadis to begin her treatment.

The Procedure

The processes for egg freezing and in vitro fertilization begin the same way. After an initial consultation and workup where she was determined a good candidate, Lauren was sent home with materials to administer hormone medications for approximately two weeks. During this time, she also met with the fertility team about every other day for blood work and ultrasound imaging to monitor if the eggs were maturing as expected. After the injections, her eggs were then harvested, and the mature eggs were frozen for preservation.

Though the process may sound easy on paper, it can be intimidating, especially since most people have never injected hormones into their bodies. However, the Fertility Center team made sure to walk Lauren through the whole process, from every injection to each follow-up appointment, so she always knew what to expect.

“The fertility journey, be it for family building or be it for fertility preservation, is overwhelming no matter how you look at it—physically and mentally,” Dr. Dimitriadis said. “We value the opportunity to support our patients through the expected and unexpected challenges of this journey, and our experienced team is by our patients’ sides every step of the way.”

“I was so nervous going into it,” said Lauren. “But honestly, the team made it so easy for me. Everything is scheduled to the minute from when you go in. You get what you need to get done and then you’re on your way. Later that same day, someone calls you to go over your results and the next steps. The team is so incredibly well-organized and accessible for questions, which really takes any guesswork out of the whole process.”

Even when Lauren encountered a minor complication due to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (a common side effect of the hormone treatment), the communication, reassurance, and prompt adjustments to the treatment plan that the team provided eased Lauren’s worries and helped maintain her confidence in the process.

In total, Lauren’s treatment lasted 8 days before her eggs were ready to be harvested. On the day of the surgery, she traveled to the Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care for the procedure. After spending a few days recovering from the procedure, she was able to return to her everyday activities with no complications.

Looking to the Future

Following the treatment, Lauren had 13 mature eggs frozen—a strong number for a woman her age. Today, those eggs are stored at Mass General, ready to be used whenever they will be needed. And should Lauren move in the future, Mass General will ship the eggs to the facility of her choice, so she won’t have to travel far to use them.

Today, Lauren is still focused on enjoying her life as it is. But after her experience with the Fertility Center, she finds comfort in knowing that whenever she’s ready to start a family, she has 13 eggs for backup if she struggles to become pregnant naturally.

“It was a great process from start to finish, and I’m so glad I did it,” Lauren said. “I wish I had done it sooner because it was so much easier that I thought it was going to be.”

Learn more about the MGH Fertility Center