More singles than ever are taking fertility into their own hands by freezing their eggs. While there are no guarantees that frozen eggs will lead to healthy viable embryos and live births ahead, there’s more awareness and education today about this process so that women can be better informed of their fertility options.
One of the women leading the effort to educate women about egg freezing is Valerie Landis, who has worked in the women’s health industry for the last decade. Her medical experiences and passion to help women at any reproductive age merged when she created her educational website eggsperience.com. Valerie is also the host of the Eggology Club podcast, where she hopes to change the fertility conversation.
Valerie’s goal is to “inspire women to feel brave and act progressively to take control of their futures today.” She embodies her mission about speaking openly about her own personal decision to freeze her eggs twice and the experience of choosing cryopreservation for her own family planning. Here’s more on why Valerie blogs and vlogs in real time about her egg freezing experience:
When and why did you decide to freeze your eggs?
I have been working in women’s healthcare and in the fertility space for over a decade. I was fortunate enough to begin my career in my early 20s that gave me time to digest and make sense of all the technology I was selling every day to figure out how fertility treatments like egg freezing could fit in my life. It also gave me time to save, plan, and feel comfortable about which doctor/clinic I would go to for the procedure some day. That was invaluable now thinking back. I had zero fear about using the technology of cryopreservation to extend my future fertility. I saw egg freezing kind of like a savings plan or 401K, that I would actually save money in the long run by being my own egg donor. I’ve always had a strong desire to have a family and biological kids of my own one day. So when I approached my early 30s and the technology had reached an even more solid milestone of reliability I knew it was time to do egg freezing myself. It was never a doubt that I would do egg freezing, just a matter of when it fit in my life to complete the process and treatment. I think I always kind of knew after understanding the process and my career teaching me about the technology that it was the smart choice for my own future.
Why did you decide to document it?
I froze my eggs for the first time in the fall of 2015, right after my 33rd birthday. I was so taken back by the emotional rollercoaster of the experience, that not even the most prepared professional working in the industry could have warned me about what it really felt like. Going through that journey of injecting myself with hormones and riding the emotional ups and downs really helped me grasp what many other women had done before me. I had a new appreciation for fertility and egg freezing or IVF. I felt like I understood so much better what patients were thinking and feeling because after I became a patient, I just got it. I saw why this was a hard decision for others both emotionally and financially. I decided it was my duty to help educate others to be as prepared as possible and ease those fears by demystifying what to expect. I created eggsperience.com to do just that. I wrote content articles and posts about my own personal journey, I started talking about my story with the press/media, I interviewed other women to tell their stories and offered my site as a platform for them to share their experiences. It also was hugely validating to collectively gather other women’s journeys that resembled my own. I was so thankful to the women that shared their experience.
In the beginning it wasn’t easy to get people willing to put their face and name out in public. I wanted to build a community where it was a safe place to share these examples and provide all the best information and resources to help others, like a one-stop shop for everything regarding egg freezing and cryopreservation. Now that has grown into hosting a podcast called, Eggology Club where the community has extended to women’s unique path to parenthood.
During my second round of egg freezing two years later in 2017, at the age of 35, I decided I wanted to document my journey with video and vlogging to give another perspective of the fertility steps included in harvesting one’s eggs and collecting them for preservation. (Stay tuned for the video!) My hope and goal from all of my documenting is to show others exactly what is included during the process so there are no surprises. Egg freezing isn’t all fun and games – it can be kind of hard. I did both cycles alone and independently. I gave and administered every shot by myself. I had to just figure it out. My hope is that through my journey the listener/viewer will feel like the documentation is kind of a “Girlfriend’s Guide to Egg Freezing” to make it easier.
You’ve been in the fertility industry for a number of years. How has it changed since you started?
I feel so blessed that I’ve been working in medical sales within the fertility industry for this long and that my career has led me down this path. I am a patient advocate first. I care about the consumer and feel deeply committed to helping individuals make the best choices for their situation. I am very compelled to provide good advice, educational knowledge, and my personal recommendations with anyone whom might ask. No question is ever too personal, big, or dumb to be answered. If I don’t know the answer to friends or patients’ questions, I have a large network of people that I have worked hard on collaborating with over the years that will have a good answer for any question. I am deeply inspired to help others gain perspective from my knowledge. I believe in the power of sharing information.
Women have had a lack of understanding and education about our bodies. I hope to bring positive change to the industry and to keep the industry transparent and patients more educated, while finding great solutions to access to healthcare for all who desire it. I believe that if women are taught these skills at a younger age they can be more prepared for the future. It is not fair that our biology as women is different from men. Women only have a defined number of eggs in our lifetime while men’s sperm will always only be a max of three months old since they continuously make new sperm on a regular basis. I feel it is my duty to help women understand how to be mindful of our bodies, technology, and biology to make planning more successful. I want to help women understand these differences so they can make educated decisions for their futures.
What can listeners of your podcast expect?
When readers or listeners tune into the Eggology Club Podcast or visit the Eggsperience website they will see a vast amount of resources to take advantage of. I wanted to provide how to guides, educated information, visual aids, and key situations and stories to see all sides of the coin from an unbiased, yet educated, point of view. I have no motives, no hidden factors, or other conflicts to share these resources. I wanted to provide educated information for the primary reason that I was not coming from a clinic, but I had the experience and expertise to take advantage of and that I could share content in a transparent way. I hope the readers and listeners feel empowered after they hear or read the resources I put out. I want to tell the real and raw version of egg freezing. It does not help any one to sugar coat or glamorize this experience. I think setting the expectations up front is the biggest key to success. We are blessed this technology exists and has improved so quickly within the industry. I want to help prep anyone thinking or debating the topic to be uber prepared for exactly what to expect.
Where are you now in your fertility egg freezing story?
My story is really just beginning. I like to say freezing eggs is the easy part. Finding the right life-long parenting partner, making good decisions, avoiding STD/STIs and other health issues in one’s lifetime, and some day creating healthy embryos to implant is the hard part. I have 29 eggs frozen to-date from my two rounds of egg freezing. I feel like I am now prepared after freezing twice that I have more time to find the right person for me. I hope some day to meet my parenting partner and create a future for us to raise a family together.
It would be ideal or my Plan A to try to conceive naturally; however if age factors are in play, lack of good sperm quality, or unexplained infertility becomes a factor, I will not hesitate and be confident to know that I have a “back-up plan” with my frozen eggs for us to try. Or, if some day the right person doesn’t walk into my life to create a family together, I know that I can become a single mom by choice and carry a pregnancy on my own terms, God-willing. In the meantime, I am focused on dating with a purpose and committed to continuing to build a successful career that I can be proud of.
I hope to provide more resources as a patient advocate, help start-up companies with great technology come to market to help future patients, and offer personal coaching to anyone going through this journey. I feel compelled to dedicate my efforts in the service of assisting others to have their families and hopefully have the opportunity to build my family in the future.