ICYMI: Trellis Health Fertility Workshop Recap
Love Squad partnered with the fabulous all-female team of Trellis Health in an effort to break barriers by discussing fertile health and egg freezing openly and honestly. Each member of the studio’s team has faced her own fertility challenges, so the team can relate to their clients on a different level and offer them the most comfortable experience. The flagship location opened in November and as soon as we heard about what they were all about, we jumped at the opportunity to join forces. We knew this was the chance to get vulnerable and initiate a conversation about a topic that needs to be talked about.
There has always been an obscene amount of pressure for women to have kids early. Most women spend their younger years hoping to not get pregnant, but for many, as they get older, this attitude towards having kids shifts. Many start thinking about that obnoxiously overused analogy of that clock in our uterus, and start to wonder if it will happen for them. Is it too late? What if something is wrong? What if…? What if…? What if…? Sometimes your professional, personal, and/or romantic timeline doesn’t quite match your fertility timeline, and that’s OK.
This workshop was all about empowering women with knowledge about their options. Oftentimes, we don’t know all we should know about our reproductive system. Ally said it best: “It’s so mysterious, yet it’s with us every day.” It shouldn’t be a mystery, but this is something a lot people just don’t talk about. So whether you’re 18 or 45, listen up. Here’s what we found out during our chat with Trellis CMO Jennifer Huang:
What is Trellis?
Trellis is a modern-day fertility studio located in SoHo, New York that is dedicated to fertility education and an empowered egg freezing process. The all-female team strives to create a safe space for women to learn about their fertile health and give them options to preserve their fertile health in a non-scary way.
How is your fertile health related to your overall health?
Sounds strange, but fertile health is not really correlated to your physical health. You can be super active, eating right, stress-free and have trouble getting pregnant or not be in the right state to bear children. On the other hand, you can be have poor general health and have absolutely no trouble at having kids.
Is there anything we can do to monitor our fertile health?
There are things you can do that can lead to a more fertility-friendly life, but you need to check your reproductive system regularly by getting blood tests and ultrasounds, which are a great way to find out how your reproductive system is doing.
How many eggs do we have?
You are born with all of the eggs you will ever have which is about 1-2 million. By age 30, you’ll have about 12 percent of your eggs left, and by age 40, you’ll have about 3-6 percent left. However, it’s important to understand that it’s not just the quantity of your eggs that is important but the quality of your eggs as well. During your 30s and 40s, only half of your eggs are genetically admirable, but they can still be great quality.
How can I test the quality of my eggs?
Unfortunately, there is no test that can show if they are good quality or not. The best doctors can do is they can analyze the eggs you freeze and watch them grow at a specific rate to know which are the most ideal.
How does age effect fertility?
The number one important factor for fertile health is your age. Your prime reproductive years are between the ages of 19 and 26. Fertility starts to decline after age 32 and that decline accelerates after 35. With that in mind, doctors recommend that you start getting tested in your 20s, and if you want to pursue fertility preservation, that you do so before age 32.
For women, the average age to get married in the US is 27, while the average in New York City is 32. None of these statistics match up very well, so it is important to know all of your options if you wish to have kids in the future, so you can take advantage of your most fertile time.
Do genetics play a role in fertility?
Yes, they can. Part of the Trellis process is looking at family history. It is smart to have a conversation with your female relatives so you can be as knowledgeable about your fertile background as you can. Even if no one in your family had a hard time getting pregnant, hormonal health and other aspects can be passed along to you that can affect your reproductive system. For example, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is something that can cause complications, but is often misdiagnosed and can be passed down through generations.
What is the egg freezing process like?
The actual process only takes about two weeks. For 10-14 days, you’ll give yourself nightly injections which help “stimulate” or grow your follicles. Then, every other morning, you go to your fertility studio and get blood work done and ultrasounds to monitor the progress of this growth.
Any given month, your body releases a number of follicles (anywhere from 40 a day to 1000 a month!), so your body is already creating follicles. The medication takes some of the follicles that would dissipate naturally and activates them, so they grow and can become viable eggs in the future. The goal is to get 15-20 good eggs.
On the last day, you take a “trigger shot” which is the same kind of medication, but it will tell your ovaries it’s time to release the follicles. Then, while you’re under general anesthesia, your doctor will perform the retrieval, where they will actually go in and remove the matured from your ovaries. Then the embryologist counts the retrieved eggs and they’re stored for your future use.
What is recovery like?
The day of retrieval, you will need to take the day off of work and relax since you will go under general anesthesia; however, many women feel okay to go to work the following. There may be some spotting and fatigue for a little while after. There should be no intense pain during recovery; if there is, that is a red flag, so go see a doctor immediately.
How long can you keep the eggs you freeze?
There is no definitive answer, but most places will store them for up to 10 years.
What does it all cost?
The national average for egg freezing is about $7500-8000 dollars. For Trellis, they charge $9,850 which includes the first year of storage, ultrasounds, meetings, anesthesia, stimulation, and monitoring. In addition, the medications would cost $3000-5000 and then $600 a year to store the eggs. Note: Trellis also offers a financing plan of $281/month.
None of this information is meant to scare you; it’s all meant to empower you. Now that you know, you can keep it all in mind and prepare to take action if you please. You might be thinking, Now what? Here’s what you can do:
We all know the drill. Go to your gynecologist for your annual checkup and go through the motions. When they ask if you have any questions, we either say we don’t or ask just one. Then when we leave, we remember the question we have been meaning to ask so we plan on asking next time. This has to change. We need to feel confident and comfortable asking questions. If you feel uncomfortable talking to your doctor or if you ask questions and feel dismissed, it may be time to find a new doctor.
Get a second opinion
At our event, several women expressed having to switch gynocologists because he or she did not listen to them. When they asked for a test, they brushed it off or invalidated how they felt. This happens all too often. You know how your body feels and if something doesn’t feel right, push for what you want. And the great part is, you don’t have to be loyal to you doctor, so go talk to another one! It may be a pain in the butt to go find another one and make the appointment and fill out the paperwork and so forth, but with something this important, it’s worth the hassle.
Talk to your employer
Many companies offer financial assistance for infertility treatments and some are starting to help cover egg freezing as well. This process is not cheap, so you may need some assistance. It can’t hurt to talk to your employer about this. Even if they don’t offer coverage yet, your inquiry can help get the ball rolling and maybe initiate policy change within the company.
Adjust your eating habits
Eating certain foods can help your fertility. Fruits and veggies, good fats like nuts and avocado, fish and fruit juices can all help improve your reproductive health. Drinking coffee and alcohol in moderation is another good idea.
Spread your knowledge
OK, this isn’t necessarily everyone’s go-to Sunday brunch topic of conversation, but now that you have this knowledge, share it, because it may help someone else. Do you have a cousin who is having doubts? Or a coworker who has a misconception about egg freezing? Or a friend who hasn’t found Mr. Right and is worried time is running out? Empowered women empower women, so tell them what you know and direct them to talk to their doctor or go to a studio like Trellis.
Thank you to Trellis for providing such an inviting space to have this conversation and educating us about our bodies and our reproductive options. Thank you to everyone who was able to attend; your receptivity and willingness to get vulnerable were what made this workshop so successful. If you couldn’t come to this event, you can still contribute to the conversation, because it is showing no signs of ending as women continue to learn, share, and support each other.
Keep being amazing, Squad.