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Egg-freezing is still a question mark for many women in their thirties—and even twenties. Trellis, a new boutique clinic in Manhattan, looks to reshape the fertility conversation. Photographed by Angelo Pennetta, Vogue, August 2015

Here’s something I didn’t expect to do the morning after my 35th birthday: squint at a fuzzed-out screen and count the follicles inside my ovaries. Had I morphed into a cartoon of a single New York woman? In truth, I haven’t given much thought to my biological clock; I barely plan vacations three days in advance, let alone an entire hypothetical family. But word of Trellis, a new boutique egg-freezing clinic opening next week in the Flatiron District, arrived at an auspicious moment—the proverbial age, experts suggest, that fertility noticeably downshifts. Can a millennial-focused reboot of a famously impersonal medical procedure, complete with cold-pressed juices and peach waffle-knit robes, really put an upbeat spin on this whole thing?

The premise is simple. Women opting to freeze their eggs—“oocyte cryopreservation,” in doctor-speak—have inherently different needs and expectations (and insurance reimbursements, typically none) than the couples grappling with infertility in IVF waiting rooms. Yes, you want the top-notch science, which is where IntegraMed, the nationwide fertility network behind Trellis, comes in. But inside the skylit studio on 18th Street, the message on repeat is empowerment, not uncertainty. Walls curved like Richard Serra sculptures encircle a pair of free-floating exam rooms; panels of one-way glass lining the offices echo the need for transparency and privacy. It’s as if the conveniences of concierge medicine (one-on-one consults; online booking; appointments on evenings and weekends) have been packaged for the sort of person who hits up nearby Bandier and Sweetgreen on her way back to The Wing. In the Trellis waiting area, a selfie-ready “content corner” features a quote from Michelle Obama: “It’s up to each of us to invent our own future.”

Carpe ovum.

“Seizing” anything was not my first impulse when I heard about Trellis in September. That weekend, I floated the subject of egg-freezing by a pregnant friend. “I can’t stand the fearmongering,” she said, with a feminist not in my house tenor. (Or in my Instagram feed, where cheerily intrusive ads from fertility clinics urge young women to “freeze time.”) It’s too easy to envision a Black Mirror scenario whenever aspirational marketing bleeds into medicine: Could successfully banked eggs become the new dystopian dowry? Still, the plain differences in our life particulars—my friend, days shy of her due date; me, meandering solo into my mid-30s—weren’t lost on me. Is it mongering, I thought, if the fear is backed by data?

“Before the advent of in vitro fertilization, we had an inkling that age affected fertility,” says Esther Eisenberg, M.D., director of the program on reproductive medicine and infertility at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The research just painted a more telling picture, she tells me, describing graphs that show “a huge dip that happens in the mid-30s, and really low levels into the 40s.”

Six years ago, when the American Society for Reproductive Medicine lifted the experimental label for egg-freezing, the once-niche procedure—relegated to egg donors as well as cancer patients looking to preserve fertility before treatment—suddenly found a much larger audience: women confronting time. The following year, nearly 5,000 egg-freezing cycles were performed in the U.S., according to the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology; the most recent data, for 2016, puts the annual tally near 9,000. Surely now, amid an influx of fertility-calculator apps, hormone-testing kits, and pop-up clinics, that number is ticking higher. I think of the way that Botox, moving from derm offices to emoji-filled storefronts, is pitched to twentysomethings: Early adopters get a smoother ride.

The reality is, many of those tiny glassine eggs are still on ice, yet to be tracked and analyzed, which has made it hard to put firm answers regarding when to freeze and how likely will it lead to pregnancy. But a new study in the journal Human Reproduction sheds some light. Researchers tracked 6,362 women—elective egg-freezers and oncofertility patients—and their road to motherhood. Eisenberg summarizes the takeaway: “The message is that eggs frozen at a younger age (less than 36) seem to have better live birth outcomes than eggs frozen beyond age 36.”

That happens to be how old Jennifer Huang, the CMO of Trellis, was when she froze her eggs after a breakup—an experience that she describes as “very cold and clinical,” albeit successful. (She met her husband soon after and conceived naturally, though at 42, planning for a second baby, she is grateful to have those time capsule eggs.) A beauty industry veteran, Huang subsequently changed career tracks, joining what she calls “the Equinox of the fertility industry” because she understood what was missing. Things like overnight home delivery for hard-to-find medications. Daily check-ins instead of an impersonal switchboard. Crystal-clear pricing with no hidden fees. Huang hands me a millennial-pink menu card: $9,850 for the egg-freezing; $600 a year for storage; and $3,000-$5,000 for the rounds of shots you’ll grudgingly self-administer for 10-odd days. I feel an involuntary flush as if all my future vacations are about to be locked up in a freezer. “Even with the financing?” she asks, pointing out the monthly $281 option, stretched over five years, plus storage fees. For someone whose family-planning goals haven’t progressed beyond putting blue and pink pegs in the back seat while playing the board game Life, is this all a bit much?

Competitive startup clinics like Extend Fertility, Ova, and Kindbody are tackling the sticker shock, shaving off a not-negligible few grand. The upside to working with a full-service fertility destination (Trellis is linked to the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine, in midtown) is that what follows—thaw, fertilize, implant—can be done in one reputable spot. Jaime Knopman, M.D., director of fertility preservation at CCRM New York, another top-tier clinic, stresses the importance of proper handling before and after cryo, since “IVF labs are not all created equal.” She recommends asking for stats when shopping around, as well as care particulars: How many egg thaws have you done, what is the success rate for the eggs, who will do my procedure? “The age-old question that I’m asked all the time, and I think nobody really knows, is: How many eggs do I need to make a baby?” Knopman says. Not all will be viable, and there’s no way to judge quality until fertilization. “Age is the real indication, so the younger you do it, the better.”

That brings me to the birthday ultrasound. The five-minute periscoping—part of Trellis’s fertility assessment—checks the antral follicle count, which helps gauge how many eggs one might collect in a single retrieval. An accompanying blood test measures anti-Mullerian hormone, another indication of ovarian reserve. (A woman’s million-plus egg count begins to tick down year by year, beginning even in utero.) Both numbers often correlate with age; neither should be considered a pass/fail.

“The fact that you turned 35 yesterday is not going to make some switch go off in your body,” says Cary L. Dicken, M.D., one of the reproductive endocrinologists leading Trellis’s medical team, as she guides me through my results. How did I do? The phrase she uses is age-appropriate, which I usually associate with Eileen Fisher sweaters, but she says it’s good news. Sort of. “In an ideal world, I would have loved for everybody to freeze their eggs at, like, age 25,” Dicken says, half-joking about a present for her daughter’s 21st birthday. (She’s only 4; who knows where technology will be by then.)

That’s the calculus at places like Trellis: How young is reasonable in order to maximize quality without tipping the cost-benefit scale? Most frozen eggs, after all, are not used. And while the risk of complications is quite low—beyond the expected bloating and amped-up PMS, enough to pencil in a fortnight’s recovery—Dicken dutifully briefs me on something called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, in which the hormone megadoses cause too many eggs to grow. (A bad case, seen in less than 1 percent of women, she says, involves major swelling, leaked fluid, and dehydration.) On the flip side, plenty of my married friends have already spent years trying to get pregnant—and they’re at least ready to try.

“Maybe I’ll sham-marry a Google engineer!” I tell a friend. The company, along with Apple and Facebook, was famously early to roll out egg-freezing benefits, a perk that some ominously read as a corporate insinuation to postpone family. (In reality, research shows that partnership status, not career, drives the decision to freeze eggs.) A few years later, Katherine Ryder, whose women’s health network, Maven, advises businesses on their plans, reports that half of her 20 newest clients are slated to offer egg-freezing—an expense she considers entirely justifiable in terms of talent retention and diversity inclusion (meaning fertility support isn’t just for married straight couples). “I think it’s going to be very mainstream as a benefit in the next 10 years,” Ryder says.

That bodes well for Dicken’s 4-year-old. But Trellis, which will expand nationally next year, knows that others can’t wait around. “If you can afford to freeze your eggs and you just want to have more fertility choices in the future, I would go ahead and do it now,” Dicken tells me in our consult.

I’m surprised to find myself weighing a decision that wasn’t even on my radar a couple months ago. It’s not the fear-mongering that has me—although regret someday might sting more than the $15,000 investment. But there is a sense of who-knows possibility that I usually don’t acknowledge. I decide to poll Anne Z. Steiner, M.D., professor and chief of the division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Duke University. She starts off measured—citing the data, the limitations—before casting her vote. “It definitely would be a time to seriously consider it. I would encourage you not to wait longer,” she says. A moment to seize, then (with an upshot of complimentary green juice). She chimes back in, reassuringly: “You’re not going to turn into a pumpkin tomorrow.”