Why I Decided To Freeze My Eggs At 32

Photographed by Grace Willis.
By Bea Arthur

This month, I turn 32 years old, and I feel really fucking fantastic about it. I’ve lasted a decade in New York, have traveled all over the world, earned an Ivy League master's degree, started an awesome and impactful company, appeared on TV, and have been in love four and a half times. These are all things I would have never thought I’d do by this age, and I have a lot in my life to be grateful for. But there is one thing I did think I’d have by now that I don’t: kids.

I’ve always wanted to be a mother and am very much looking forward to the day I’ll have a mini-me to love, spoil, and embarrass — but right now, I’m really far away from that day. And because I am fully aware of how little time, patience, and disposable income I have, I’ve decided to harvest and freeze my eggs.

When I candidly share the news of my decision, I'm met with varying reactions. Hearing everything from “Oh, you’re not that old; you can still find somebody” to “Smart — you’re not getting any younger!” has shown me that a lot of people don't know anything about the procedure or why women are opting for it — in spite of the fact that it's been in the news a lot lately. After Tyra Banks and Chrissy Teigen opened up this week about their own struggles conceiving, Gabrielle Union expressed similar sentiments in People when she said, “The penance for being a career woman is barrenness.”

Because it's essential that we know our options and understand what delaying starting a family could mean for us, I decided to open up about my own experience in the hope that it will further a dialogue on this important subject. More women need to be informed about their reproductive health; these organs are a complicated machine, and knowledge is power.
Why I Did It
I've heard that many women start the process of harvesting and freezing their eggs because they've discovered an issue that may affect their fertility. And I suppose this is true of me: Although I’m pretty healthy, I’ve got three huge fibroids that could affect my chances of carrying to term. My doctors have been surprised that I haven’t experienced any symptoms.

I want to have a family, but I am in no rush. After years of being a domestic violence counselor and then specializing in couples' counseling in private practice, I’m under no illusions about what having a family is actually like, and I want to approach it as responsibly as possible.
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Also, you know what? I’m buying time. My life is crazy right now. I live in a tiny, fifth-floor walk-up in Manhattan, and in spite of having a successful career, I only ever seem to have enough money for brunch, stops at my local wine shop, and movies on flights. I still make a lot of bad decisions at TopShop, and I still have a lot more work to do to get my company where I envision it. Right now, building my company requires my full focus and a lot of personal sacrifice. And when I’ve done what I wanted to do, career-wise, I don’t want to go from one all-consuming, expensive lifestyle to another one.
What I Learned
After the age of 35, a woman's fertility declines steeply and the odds of having a child naturally (with no medical interventions) are 1 in 50. The odds decrease exponentially every year after that. Now, it’s true that many women up to and over the age of 40 can conceive healthy children problem-free, but it’s also true that infertility has become an epidemic in this country.
As women commit to their careers, many are delaying starting families. And because of the magic of birth control, we feel like we can turn our fertility on and off at any time. So for ambitious women who have achieved amazing, impressive things, it can be extremely frustrating and depressing to find that our bodies aren't suddenly ready to conceive when we are. Since I have always been very intentional and strategic about my future, I wouldn’t leave something this important up to fate.

Don't get me wrong: Egg-freezing is expensive. One cycle of harvesting can cost anywhere between $10,000 to $150,000. There’s a reason only huge, profitable companies like Google and Apple are offering to pay for this procedure for their female employees. I was lucky enough to connect with Egg Banxx, a service that finances the procedure to make it affordable for the average woman.

And, it's uncomfortable. The entire process takes about two and a half weeks and consists of giving yourself daily injections. In the last stretch, you must prepare to go to the doctor every other day to have blood work done, get ultrasounds, and bloat like you’ve never bloated before. In the final week, you can’t have sex or exercise, which I can say (based on experience) makes total sense, since your hormone levels are off the charts. I basically quarantined myself, ordered burritos every day, and told myself it was normal to cry on the subway during rush hour.

What I Know Now
It was definitely worth the time, pain, and cost. I feel total peace of mind knowing that I’ve afforded myself options for my future family, and I encourage all women to consider this process. Check out this helpful site for more information, or feel free to ask me any questions in the comments below.
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