Freezing my very own Easter eggs in Portugal

Freezing my very own Easter eggs in Portugal

The only eggs I hunted for Easter this season were in me all along. Nearly 30 years together, but alas all things must end.

Cold-take: freezing eggs in the United States is way too expensive. Being an aunt is an absolute delight, but I’m still on the fence about becoming a parent myself. Freezing my eggs was something that I’ve been mulling over for years, and then once I heard the price in Portugal I figured it was now or never. Plus, I like that I can ignore the tick-tock of my biological clock in the background as I navigate the murky waters of dating.

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Finding a clinic

Since I’m pretty familiar with Lisbon at this point, I figured that I would just search for fertility clinics on Google maps in neighborhoods close-ish to the city center. I found a couple of clinics, and chose one that had transparent pricing on their website. Maybe the US healthcare system has scarred me, but I am not keen on waiting until the end of a procedure to find out the price of something.

I didn’t shop around for a clinic, but I have no regrets for the clinic I chose. The doctor was a delight, the nurses were helpful, and I got a walkthrough of my reproductive system for the very first time as an adult! Wild to hear the names of everything. If I choose to do another cycle, I would definitely return to AVA.

Also, while I speak decent Portuguese, I did make sure to choose a clinic that also spoke English. My medical Portuguese can be a bit spottier and I really didn’t want any malentendidos (misunderstandings.) Ironically when I woke up from anesthesia I was only speaking in Portuguese, but maybe I was absorbing the conversation.

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The process

Initial consultations can be done remotely or in-person, and then your doctor at the clinic reviews the results and picks a date. Since I have an IUD and no cycle, I did one round of birth control to more regulate a start date, and then I was off!

I can’t lie, I was filling with anxiety the entire 24 hours before my first injection. I read the pamphlet multiple times, verified every single page by translating via Google Lens, and generally could not focus at work. Needles and shots have never been an issue for me, but I’d never had to administer them myself! That said, the doctor was right. I hardly felt the needles. Being consistent about the timing was a bit annoying, but I was always in the same 90-min window.

There was a slight hiccup with the final shot, but one quick walk to a local hospital pretty much sent me on the way. I started the recovery medication the night before the retrieval per my doctors orders, and the retrieval itself went on with no problem. The worst part was by far swiping my card at the end, but we all knew it was coming.

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Side-effects and symptoms

Before I go into my symptoms and side-effects, let it be known that I love complaining. Good grievances are an art, and if you talked to me through the process, I probably complained a little. My eyes also watered a lot (maybe allergies, maybe hormones), so I looked like I was on the verge of tears for a bit.

That said, my doctor described the injections like a mini-pregnancy. I’m doing all this because I’ve never been pregnant and am on the fence, but I’d agree. The first days at 150ug I didn’t notice much other than a headache and some nausea, but I noticed when I got bumped up to 200. A heaviness in my lower stomach, nausea, headaches, and more…trips to the bathroom than usual. Working from the couch half laying down was very manageable for me. After the egg retrieval is when I really noticed the bloat. A few pounds of water weight that I’m hoping disappear quickly.

The emotions were a bit more up and down than usual. An UberEATS order cancelled at the last minute after the (good) nearby cafe had closed, and that almost became my 13th reason. My good performance review essentially gave me a sense of euphoria. In general though, I had a vague malaise towards the final days and a sort of bleh disposition.

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All-in medical costs

So, how much did this end up costing me in total: a little over $3000, not including travel costs. Preventative egg freezing typically isn’t covered for young, single women unless they have a diagnosis that could complicate fertility in the future—and sometimes not even then. All of these costs are with no insurance coverage or benefits.

Even with insurance+benefits, this would be an amazing price in the United States. This especially holds true when you add in the future costs of storage, egg thawing, and implantation. I did also read of some programs that would cover all costs if you donate half the eggs! This also assumes that you would have a high enough yield to donate half the eggs.

Upfront costs

  • $55 – 110 for the initial consultation [50€ for virtual, 100€ in person]
  • $280 for medication [~250€]
  • ~$2800 for the ultrasounds and consultations during the procedure, the retrieval, and anesthesia [2600€]
  • Travel costs to and from the clinic, and some Ubers (less than 5€/trip)
  • variable for initial tests (based on insurance, etc. Mine were around 200 I think, but I grouped it with my annual tests)

Future costs, assuming no increases (unlikely):

  • Egg storage renewal for 5 years: 400€
  • Egg thawing and transfer: 2950€

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Probability for the future

One thing I really respect is how my doctor told me that this is not a guarantee that I will have a child in the future. The odds are very good (85-95%) that at least one pregnancy can result from these eggs, but that’s not 100%. This is always the case with egg freezing, as you lose eggs in every stage of the process: retrieval, freezing, thawing, and implantation.

Fortunately, I had a good yield of eggs (thank you PCOS!) and there are very decent odds I could have multiple children from this batch. Should I decide to have kids, IVF twins, I’m coming for you! In the meantime, I’ll be enjoying my life as a beloved aunt without the tick-tock of my biological clock.

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the best baby to put in a bjorn is your niece/nephew 🙂

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