An embryologist prepares some eggs for thawing at Shady Grove Fertility. (Andre Chung for The Washington Post)

When my Post colleague Ellen McCarthy discusses her decision to freeze some of her eggs about four years ago, she talks about how the stigma of online dating had just begun to lift, but the stigma of freezing your eggs was very present. 

“It was just something you didn’t talk about,” she said when we sat down for a conversation about women’s fertility, the latest episode of the Solo-ish podcast. “I didn’t know anyone who had done it.”

These days, people are talking about it; companies such Apple and Facebook are helping employees pay for it; and women are much more likely to know someone who’s frozen.

The procedure is expensive: In Washington, it can cost a woman $12,500 to $18,000 to put away enough eggs to use later on; storing them can cost several hundred dollars a year. And in the end, the procedure isn’t guaranteed to yield a baby.

“It’s like an insurance policy, more than anything,” says Dr. Shruti Malik, a reproductive endocrinologist at Shady Grove Fertility Center in Fair Oaks, Va., who also joined me on the podcast. Dr. Malik has frozen her own eggs as well as guiding patients through the process. She spoke with me — and my colleague Clinton Yates, a male with no eggs to freeze but lots of questions — about the tests and hormone injections involved in the procedure, when’s the best time to freeze, and how and when you might talk about fertility with your partner.

Having some eggs in the bank allowed McCarthy to chill out about dating in her 30s. She’s since married and given birth to two beautiful girls, without using those eggs. “It gave me back some sanity,” McCarthy said of the procedure.

You can listen to our conversation here — or subscribe to the Solo-ish podcast on iTunes.

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