You might have thought that once I’d decided to freeze my eggs, picking a clinic would be really easy. Wrong. At least not for me. The thing is, I’m a bit of data junkie, I tend to make decisions based on evidence. If I want to buy a vacuum cleaner, I’ll look at the Which? report; if I’m booking a holiday, I’ll check out reviews from people I trust (not those idiots on TripAdvisor, never them) and so for a Statto like me, it should have been as easy as looking at the success rates and going with the best one.
Except it’s so not. Because those success rates are pretty much bollocks. You don’t know if clinics are selective, only picking patients who are likely to succeed, you don’t know who those women are and why they’re at the clinic – maybe they had pre-existing medical conditions that meant they couldn’t conceive, maybe they were using eggs that were frozen a few years ago using old techniques – blah blah blah – too many variables.
So I did what everyone does – I Googled. And I found a bunch of clinics who were really happy to talk to me – but they wanted £200 or more for the pleasure. Seriously? I don’t even know if I want to do this for sure – let alone with you – and you want two hundred quid off me? Do me a favour. Then I found one who would give me a 15-minute free consultation so I decided to do it. At least I could ask them about how many cycles I needed, and, if I did decide to go it alone in a few years time whether I was better off freezing eggs now and defrosting them and fertilising them, or whether I should fertilise them now with donor sperm and freeze embryos etc etc
So I went. And we talked, and she gave me some interesting information – and said yes that frozen embryos do have a better success rate than frozen eggs, and yes they probably would recommend three cycles, and that look they did a three cycle package and if I booked before a certain point they’d give me a 10% discount. And that’s where I started to feel uncomfortable. I’m all about saving the cash, but there was something a bit weird and second hand car salesman about that.
I think the thing is that in the UK – at the moment, fuck knows what’s going to happen to my beloved NHS in the next few years – we’re not used to healthcare being commercialised. I don’t expect the doctor treating me to have cold hard cash rather than my best interests at heart.
I’m fortunate enough to have a brilliant GP so I went to ask for her advice. I knew she couldn’t give me a referral as such, but I also knew that she’d know more about it than me – even if she hadn’t had patients freeze eggs, I knew that she’d have had IVF patients and could at least give me a bit of a pointer. She did. One of the clinics she suggested was headed up by someone who is not only a bit of a guru in the whole field of fertility, but also still works at the local NHS hospital. I liked the sound of that, so I booked in on one of their open mornings.
They presented their schtick to me, a couple of other single women but mostly hopeful looking couples. Then we each got the opportunity for a quick consultation with the guru. Turns out their whole thing is less is more. They were horrified when I asked about ovaries the size of tennis balls and not exercising. God no, they said, or words to that effect, that’s not what we want. Basically, the numbers show that you can get 8 eggs out and actually the first 4 are the only ones that are viable; or you can get 4 eggs out and they’re all viable. Well, that’s what they said, and it made a lot of sense. I was sold.