My egg freezing journey – Emily’s story
15th March 2019
Emily Hartridge, 34, has many a string to her bow – personal trainer, fitness model and presenter to name but a few. She is also a bonafide social media titan, with over 300,000 subscribers to her Youtube channel and closing in on 40,000 followers on Instagram.
Emily’s followers are generally used to her hilarious sketch videos and open and honest discussions about mental health, sexuality and relationships. However, at the tale end of 2018, Emily discovered she had a low egg count and suddenly fertility became a huge focus of her social channels. She has been going through the process of freezing her eggs and documenting her egg freezing journey through her Youtube series. ‘The Egg Diaries’. Emily sat down with Coni Longden-Jefferson to share her experience with the Adia Health community.
Hi Emily! You say on your channels that you weren’t looking to start a family right now, so what initially prompted you to investigate your fertility?
My mum said to me last year that if I wanted my eggs frozen she would pay for it and I hadn’t really thought about it before that. Egg freezing felt a bit like an urban legend really! Then this year I remembered she said that and I decided that I would do some research into it all and let everyone on Instagram know what I found out.
How did you start investigating your fertility?
I booked in to have a fertility MOT thinking that because I was fit, healthy and had periods every month that it all would be fine – oh how wrong I was. To hear at 34 that your fertility isn’t good at all is utterly heartbreaking and something I was not prepared for.
What was the medical advice you received at that stage?
The doctor advised me to think about doing a 3 cycle egg freezing package because unless I was planning on having a baby in the next 10 months – which I was not – that it would be a good idea for me. So here I am, embarking on my 2nd cycle as we speak.
Can you tell us a little bit about the egg freezing process?
The process is more hardcore than I thought. For some reason I thought it was a simple case of just plucking eggs out from me and that was it….turns out it’s a tad more complicated than that. You have to give yourself daily injections of a lot of hormones for about 2 weeks. Then you have to do a trigger injection at the end, then you go in for the procedure where you are sedated and they extract the eggs from you.
How’s your egg freezing journey going so far?
I have done 1 cycle and the whole thing was an emotional rollercoaster. Whilst you are injected, you need to go in for scans every 3 days to see how it’s going and if they need to adjust the hormones etc. Because the reality is every period is different so for some women, no eggs are good enough to extract.
How many eggs are you hoping to collect?
Because of my low fertility at first, our aim is to get 9/10 eggs out of the 3 cycles. From the first round I got 3 and I am hoping for the same this time around. For luckier women who have better fertility, they might only have to do 1 cycle because they can get about 10 eggs from 1 cycle alone. I am not one of the luckier ones and I need to do 3 times! So I hope to get 9/10 out of 3 but I just don’t know what will happen because you just can’t predict how each one will do.
Have you been able to maintain your healthy lifestyle?
I was told to work out as much as I wanted during the process because that’s what my body is used to and it helps me massively on the mental health side of things. I also did acupuncture last time but I decided not to do it this round and just see what happens so that will be interesting to know if the outcome is any different.
What’s been the toughest part of the egg freezing journey for you?
The toughest part for me is the hormones. The actual injections are fine and I am a pro at injecting myself now, but because I have anxiety, having a massive amount of hormones in my body in a short space of time is very hard for me. It makes you feel very bloated, tired, emotional, anxious. Also the pressure you feel to make sure it’s all going according to plan with each scan is a lot.
You’re a huge advocate for mental health and are incredibly open about your struggles with anxiety – what effect has the process had on your mental well being?
Having anxiety is hard enough but then to pump your body full of hormones like a cow on top of that is incredibly difficult. You just feel a bit flat and not yourself at all – I have had 2 friends also freezing their eggs at the moment and they both felt the same as I did.The whole process of injecting yourself with these hormones is of course very unnatural so we can’t downplay the effect that could have on us, mentally and physically.
Has there been any positive effects on your mental health?
I think women in society put themselves under so much pressure with regards to fertility and children but the reality is some things are just out of our control and my own fertility was very much out of my control. So by freezing my eggs, I felt like I was taking some control back and that felt good. Empowering I might even say
What made you want to share your story publicly?
I think for some reason egg freezing just isn’t spoken about and I don’t understand why. The reality is nowadays women are having children later so fertility is something that is naturally on our minds quite a lot post 30. I hope that by me talking about it all will prompt others to do and then hopefully it will become less of a taboo topic – which it shouldn’t be!
What has the reaction been from your followers?
I have loads of amazing messages from so many women on Instagram thanking me for talking about a subject that not many people dare to. It’s made them think about their fertility and I am so proud of myself for that. Helping people is what I love to do, I believe it’s my purpose, so if by talking about it all so openly helps women feel less alone then that is a win for me.
How important do you think having a supportive network is when you’re going through this?
Thanks to social media, I have made a wonderful friend who is also freezing hers at the same time. She messaged me on Instagram after seeing my videos about it and then we went for coffee and now we speak all the time. Its honestly so nice to go through something like this with someone else who completely understands what you are going though, I think if I didn’t have her I would feel so much more alone and confused about it all.
What have you learnt from going through this process?
That fertility is different for every woman and the fact that I had low fertility had nothing to do with my age, it was just my body and what I was born with. I just assumed that because I looked after myself and never missed a period that that meant my fertility would be amazing. But that’s just not how it works.
What advice would you give to a woman who finds herself in a similar situation to yourself?
I would say that there is nothing shameful about freezing your eggs and taking some control back. Be open about what your doing, I will tell anyone despite what their reaction might be because I just don’t care what people think. I would also say if you do end up deciding to freeze your eggs, take lots of time to relax during the process and prepare yourself to feel a little nuts for a while.
You can follow Emily’s progress by following her on Instagram and Youtube. We are so grateful to Emily for sharing her egg freezing journey with us, so important we have open and honest conversations about fertility ❤️
If you’d like to understand your fertility, you can take Adia’s at home fertility test. Our fertility test will help you understand your egg reserve, your hormonal health and how you might respond to fertility treatments.
The Adia platform also provides a wealth of information and support in relation to fertility, all designed by our fertility experts.