On the fifth night of Chanukah, December 14, 2020, my childhood friend Shelley posted an article about her personal journey with egg freezing. Growing up, I was taught very little about fertility. I knew that a woman’s fertility starts to decline at age 35, but at no point in my education or post-education did anyone speak to me about the importance of looking into my fertility sooner rather than later, regardless of being single or married.
After reading about Shelley’s journey, I decided to look into egg freezing, myself. In Israel, although it’s much cheaper than in the US, it’s still a financial burden. It could cost anywhere between 9,000-12,000 shekel, plus the cost of the medication. In addition, it’s advised to do at least two rounds of treatment. I had no idea how I would be able to afford this journey.
When I first decided to look into my fertility, it was all theoretical. That helped me stay calm. My first step was going to my family doctor to ask for the necessary blood tests. Then, I saw my OBGYN, who sent me to get my AMH (Anti-Müllerian Hormone)* tested. (*An AMH test is often used to check a woman’s ability to produce eggs that can be fertilized for pregnancy. A woman’s ovaries can make thousands of eggs during her childbearing years. The number declines as a woman gets older. AMH levels help show how many potential egg cells a woman has left.)
Dr. Nabulsi was the first OBGYN who treated me as a person and not just a patient. She affirmed that what I am doing is the right thing and nobody should tell me otherwise. Dr. Nabulsi strongly believes in being honest with every woman who walks through her door about the importance of her fertility. I sat in her office and cried because, at that moment, I decided I was going to continue the process, and I knew I had a long road ahead of me. She gave me the comfort and empowerment I needed to move forward.
I debated whether to be open and tell people about my decision. I was afraid I would be judged for taking this leap. After a few weeks on my journey, I needed support from my friends. Some were more supportive than others. Some reactions I got were, “But you’re so young!” “Why do this now?” “Are you giving up on marriage?” While these were hurtful comments, others empowered me, “Good for you for taking your fertility into your own hands,” “If you need anything – I am here for you.” “You’re brave and strong.” Having supportive friends made all the difference.
When I thought I was getting close to the end of the process, I was told I cannot freeze my eggs because taking hormones is too risky for me, as I have a blood clotting condition. My next option was to freeze my ovary tissue, a newer technology developed in Israel in the last 15 years. I was directed to Professor Dror Meirow at Sheba Tel Hashomer, one of the top 10 hospitals in the world. He explained to me that freezing ovary tissue is my best option and that he’s had hundreds of successful babies born from this method.
While experiencing my fertility journey, several friends opened up to me about their own egg freezing, IUI, IVF, and miscarriages. Many of them hadn’t shared their stories with anyone because they were ashamed, or they felt the topic was too private. Going through any fertility treatment is hard, and no one should feel alone. A simple gesture will go a long way in helping your friend know you’re there when they need it. If being open about my fertility journey helps even one woman feel less alone, it is all worth it.
My hope is for no woman to feel alone, for every woman to have a strong community to support her. That is why I created an English-speaking community on Facebook to help all women on any part of their fertility journey: Fertility Support Community: Israel. Join us in empowering women to take charge of their fertility and be part of the conversation.