Hannah Furst on her life-changing egg freezing experience

  • Health
  • November 18, 2021

Writer and podcast host, Hannah Furst, is one of our all-time favourite people on social media. She is talking about everything we’re thinking about: dating, lockdown lows, period cravings, and most importantly, egg freezing. Furst recently documented her experience online for her community and we wanted to know more. So, here she is, explaining all the ins and outs, highs and lows of that life-changing journey.

ON HOW SHE’S FEELING AT THE MOMENT

“I am feeling amazing. I’ve never felt better. I think it’s well deserved because I felt like I did a lot of work on myself during lockdown; a meditation on life (as one of my followers called it), asking what do I want for myself and where do I want my life to head.

Obviously, [since egg freezing] dating is very different now because my mindset has changed. I’m not under some sort of time pressure to have kids. So, I can have fun and get to know someone. I definitely feel like the pressure has been taken off. If something doesn’t work out, that’s fine! I’m not rushing towards the finishing line anymore.

And then, I’ve also changed my mindset just generally towards being single and dating. I’m trying to have more fun. So, I’m in a positive mindset I would say.”

ON THE THINGS SHE WISH SHE KNEW AT THE START OF THE EGG FREEZING PROCESS

“I didn’t know one of the major factors affecting fertility once you hit your mid-30s is the decline in egg quality. I thought it was just about the number of eggs, but it’s actually the decline in the quality of eggs that reduces the chances of a healthy pregnancy.

I didn’t know anything about my fertility. I have quite a light period and in the back of my mind I thought that maybe it was linked to fertility issues. I literally made up a story in my head because it felt like everyone was talking about having heavy periods and I thought there was something wrong with me.”

ON WHAT HAPPENS AT THE BEGINNING OF THE PROCESS

“The first thing I did when I met with the fertility specialist was to have an AMH test which checks your ovarian reserves. That’s an indicator —not a perfect one— but it’s a first step to finding out how many eggs you have. However, the AMH doesn’t tell you much about the quality.

Then the next step is to have an ultrasound to count the number of follicles you have. The follicle is a fluid-filled sack where the eggs lives. I had a lot of follicles. Then, she checked my uterus and it turned out that I was a really good candidate to have a successful egg freezing in just one cycle. Imagine doing that and finding out the opposite? That’s why I think knowledge is power. You should do this earlier, in your late twenties or early thirties. For me, knowing that information has given me some more peace of mind.

It turned out that I was going to get a good result from just one round so I went ahead with it.”

ON THE HORMONE INJECTIONS AND HOW THEY AFFECTED HER

“It was good because I did it in lockdown. You need to be here (in the same city) for two weeks because you need to inject yourself with hormones each day and you need to be available to get ultrasounds to find out when you’re ready to do the collection.

I think there’s a misconception that the injections are going to be really hard. They’re actually really easy. You ice the area and make it numb. The first one is a bit weird and then it’s completely fine. I did it twice a day for ten days.

The real thing that got me and it won’t happen to everyone (my hormones affect me quite badly even during my period) is that I had an extreme response to the hormones. I would say I was depressed. I stayed in bed. I did some work but I couldn’t see people or do much. I fell asleep every day in the early afternoon. I had a constant, bottomless hunger where a loaf of bread was a snack. I didn’t eat a vegetable for two weeks. I went to the supermarket and bought mac and cheese, mi goreng’s, loaves of bread and peanut butter. One night I ate three Mars Bar ice creams!

I actually texted my mum at one point saying that I was really worried I would be like that forever. I saw the doctor every few days and told her that I had never felt like this before and she told me that the day my period returns – first period after collection – I would go back to normal. And seriously, the day I got my period, it was like magic and it was like this fog was lifted and I was back to my happy, outgoing self.

Having spoken to the doctor and other women going through it on Instagram, that’s not everyone’s experience. Some women fly through it and they don’t have any issues.

Normally, three days before my period I get down, and I know that it’s coming every month. If hormones affect you then you may need to prepare and lighten your workload during those two weeks.”

ON THE EGG COLLECTION

“The actual collection of the eggs is nothing. You go in for a few hours for day surgery and then you’re a little bit sore for a day or two and then you’re fine. They tell you on the spot how many eggs are collected. They wrote mine on my hand and I had 30 collected and then 28 were put in the freezer.

Afterwards, the doctor showed me a graph. There’s a lot of data that they’ve collected from overseas that shows the percentage likelihood that those eggs will result in a live birth. And so the percentage for me was 95-99% – because it’s based on your age and the number collected at that age. It’s a great result for me.”

ON HER PERIOD FLOW POST-PROCEDURE

“You basically have your egg collection and then you should get your period within seven days after that. Literally from that day every single side effect was lifted. It was pretty wild. I didn’t know that hormones could affect me that much.

My first period after the process was normal and that came within the seven days of the process. What was weird though, was that I then waited five-to-six weeks for my next period. I knew it was coming because I started to get that really low mood again. I was told it can be a little bit irregular for a while and then it should just go back to normal.”

ON WHAT TO EXPECT THE EXPERIENCE TO COST

“At the beginning when I asked the doctor, she said that you should budget at least $10-20K on the process. And it all depends on how many rounds you have. You may only have one round. But if you are thinking about it, I would say, at the very least you should go and get the fertility tests. I kept putting it off but by 32 I had checked my fertility.”

ON HOW SHE FEELS NOW THAT HER EGGS ARE ON ICE

“I’m not ready to have kids yet (and maybe I’ll never be ready) but there’s a big weight off my shoulders. Because I have enough eggs, I’ve given myself this breathing space to go and live my best life. And then I have this thing in my gut telling me that next year is going to be the best year of my life! And I’m really excited and that’s the feeling I have at the moment.

Now when I’m dating, I’m not embarrassed to talk about the fact that I’ve frozen my eggs. I have no shame in saying, “I think I want kids at some point and I’ve frozen my eggs because I’m not ready right now.”

ON WHY SHE THINKS IT’S A TABOO TOPIC

“This is just my opinion of why fertility in your 30s is such a taboo topic. Well, this is how I’ve felt anyway. Throughout my late twenties, I felt that if you were open about wanting kids or caring about your fertility that men would be turned off by that.

I was always too nervous to be up front about what I wanted in my life. I think some of the taboo might be around not wanting to admit that you haven’t met someone or that you’re alone. And not wanting to admit that you want to have kids someday but it might not happen.

I have a group of girlfriends who are really honest and we talk about fertility. I think just having friends you can be vulnerable around when talking about this sort of stuff has been a real game-changer for me.

That’s how you heal. It’s like me doing a podcast about being single. That’s how I healed my relationship with my singlehood and being alone.”

ON THE TOM ORGANIC PERIOD PRODUCTS SHE INCORPORATES INTO HER ROUTINE

“I actually spoke to a naturopath at the fertility clinic about my period and got some great info. I explained how my period is normal for a day or two and then changes to really light. She said that’s really normal which was good to know.

For me, the first two days are a light flow, and then for the last three days I can just use a liner. I’m one of those people who uses different products throughout. I think the period briefs are really great for when you’re heading out. When you just want to wear undies and no pad. I like the mid-rise high waisted ones and I wear high waisted jeans and they go really well together.

Mostly, I wear the regular ultra thin pads. Then occasionally I wear regular tampons if I’m going on a date and I need to wear certain undies to go with a certain outfit. Like a g string. That’s when I need tampons. And yes, you can still go on dates even when you have your period.”

ON WHAT A (PERIOD) DAY IN THE OF HANNAH FURST LOOKS LIKE

“For me, my comfort is the three days before my period. Where I know it’s coming, and so I’ll get into bed early and binge watch something. I won’t book any dates or anything social because I know that time is for me. My go-to comfort food is mac and cheese. And then I do something sweet like ice cream and apple pie.

But then, from the first day of my period [bleed], my mood starts to lift and I go back to normal. I think that my symptoms start a few days before and I don’t get cramps, my boobs might get a little bigger and there’s a little bloating. It’s in the lead up that I get pretty moody. I also get hormonal pimples around my chin and my neck and I use SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense and that always clears it up.”