We are thrilled to announce the launch of our beautiful FERTILITY Magazine, in partnership with Genea Fertility.
For too long, people experiencing fertility issues have been relegated to anonymous online forums and Dr Google. The success of this fertility hub on The Grace Tales has been testament to the demand for resources and community, to navigate this incredibly personal and difficult journey. Creating a print magazine has been a labour of love that The Grace Tales and Genea are deeply committed to.
FERTILITY Magazine launches soon. Here’s a sneak peak of what’s inside…
Despite working in a fertility clinic herself, Stephanie Clarke had never considered freezing her eggs. But after being diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease, and finding the ongoing lockdowns in Melbourne weren’t exactly helping her dating life, she decided to freeze her eggs at 29. Here she tells us what inspired the decision, her top tips for the treatment process, and why she calls it “an incredibly empowering thing to do”.
I was diagnosed with my auto immune condition, Eosinophilic Fasciitis, just over two years ago when I was living in London. Given how rare the condition is, it took the doctors a while to actually confirm my diagnosis. At that point I was just so focused on the treatment and wanting to feel better, I didn’t think to ask about the impacts it could have on my fertility. The only advice I received was to ensure I was on a form of contraception, as the medications I was prescribed would have detrimental impacts on a pregnancy.
When I returned from London to Melbourne in April 2020, the pandemic was in full swing. Unfortunately, the medications I am on make me immunocompromised, meaning I was considered ‘high risk’ if I was to get the virus. I was not allowed to go back to working in the emergency rooms like I was used to, or even any part of the hospitals. As a nurse, it is an extremely odd feeling to be told you have to sit on the sidelines in almost definitely (hopefully!) the biggest health crisis I would experience in my career – I definitely lost my sense of purpose for a while.
I have always had an interest in women’s health and maternity, so when the position at the fertility clinic came up I knew it would be perfect for me. But I had no idea that I would be using the fertility clinic’s services myself. Working as a fertility nurse gave me the insight and knowledge to make the decision to freeze my eggs.
Even as a teenager, I was the one that would always offer to cuddle or feed a friend’s or family member’s baby. I now have a beautiful nephew and many of my close friends and cousins have children, so I look at them and know that I want that happiness for myself one day. But the pandemic and lockdowns, particularly here in Melbourne, have really thrown a spanner in the works when it comes to dating world. It has made it hard to date and meet someone. Unfortunately, as women, our egg quality and the number off eggs we have decrease with age, particularly once we are over 35. At 29, I am definitely on the younger end of the spectrum of women who freeze their eggs, with the key reason being I am concerned about what my treatment could be doing to the quality of the eggs.
Before working in the fertility clinic, and going public on social media about my egg freezing journey, I only really knew couples that had gone through IVF. But the details were kept private, it was not really spoken about openly. I made the decision to share my story via an Instagram account so that I could help others who might be experiencing the same thing.
I am used to giving myself injections with my condition, so that was not an issue for me. Physically I was bloated, especially towards the end and after the egg collection. Just before my period came it was like experiencing extreme PMS. Mentally, I felt empowered that I was doing the process.
I was a little bit nervous leading up towards the procedure, mainly because I had not had anaesthetic before, but afterwards it was a sense of relief and happiness. Emotionally, I didn’t think I was too bad – but the people I live with might say otherwise! Whilst having the hormone injections I found myself getting emotional at things like commercials on television, or episodes of Friends. It was actually post the egg collection procedure, in the wait to get my period, that I found emotionally the hardest. I was getting agitated at small things and also bawled my eyes out crying when I got a bunch of flowers delivered from my aunty. But once I got my period, it was like I snapped back to regular me.
My advice would be that knowledge is power and egg freezing is an incredibly empowering thing to do. Also, start talking about fertility! Talk to your friends, partner, mum, aunty, whoever!
If we started having conversations about it earlier, maybe we wouldn’t see so many people struggle with fertility issues.
Stephanie’s top 5 tips for egg freezing:
- If you’re thinking about freezing your eggs, book in to see a fertility specialist or a GP – preferably one that specialises in women’s health or obstetrics – for a basic fertility assessment. This includes a blood test called AMH, that looks at your ovarian reserves, and a pelvic ultrasound.
- You don’t need to take the entire time off work but you do have to be flexible with needing to come in for ultrasounds.
- The injections really aren’t that bad, particularly once you’ve done the first one!
- Frozen eggs do not guarantee a baby. When the eggs are frozen they are assessed as mature or not, however the quality of the egg is not known until the time of thawing and inseminating the eggs.
- Do your research on clinics and doctors – prices and quality of fertility clinics vary greatly.