We love The Mindy Project. Not only is the show’s strong, independent female protagonist a funny, stylish New Yorker, she’s also a doctor who runs a fertility practice to boot—and she’s not shy about discussing egg freezing.
But in the latest episode, Mindy Kaling’s character, Dr. Lahiri, introduces a new business idea: an egg freezing “spring break” for college-aged women. Is The Mindy Project’s portrayal of egg freezing close to the truth—or Hollywood fiction?
Let’s explore fertility preservation on the small screen:
Mindy says: “These girls can spend 8 medically supervised days enjoying the Big Apple, topping it all off with a simple procedure to freeze their eggs.”
The truth: First of all, let’s just put this out there: there’s a reason that “egg freezing spring break” doesn’t exist IRL, and that’s because the egg freezing process, not including an initial consultation and tests that need to be completed first, takes about two weeks—longer than any spring break we know of. (If you have a two-week spring break, we’re seriously jealous!)
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That timing is based on a woman’s natural ovulation cycle. You can check out our “How It Works” section for all the details, but typically, women undergoing egg freezing take injectible ovarian stimulation medication for 10–12 days to prep them for the egg retrieval.
There’s one thing Mindy does get right here. The egg retrieval is quite simple for women who are freezing their eggs: a short 15-minute outpatient procedure, with no cuts and no stitches. The majority of women return to work the next day. But freezing your eggs, start to finish, in the week before mid-terms? Not quite. And that’s okay—for most women, the egg freezing process is easily incorporated into their lives alongside school, work, and everything else they do.
Mindy says: “Alcohol is not permitted on this trip. It’s really not good for your procedure.”
The truth: Though many clinics prohibit alcohol for women undergoing any kind of fertility treatment, it’s really more of a concern for women doing in vitro fertilization, as they’re prepping to get pregnant as soon as possible. Sure, heavy drinking isn’t good for anyone (or any part of your body). But there’s no evidence that moderate social drinking—say, a cocktail at happy hour or a glass of wine with dinner—will affect the outcome of an egg freezing cycle or your long-term fertility. Cheers!
Mindy says: “Do you know how fertile you are right now?! You could get pregnant with a handshake!”
The truth: Maybe not from a handshake, but yes—depending on what point they’re at in their cycle, these women could be pretty fertile. Unprotected intercourse is a no-no.
In egg freezing, the stimulation medication used to kick the ovaries into overdrive results in the production of multiple eggs, as opposed to the single egg usually produced during a menstrual cycle. While egg freezing cycles are very carefully timed, using a trigger shot to prompt the ovaries to “release” the eggs at just the right time for the retrieval, there’s always a small chance that the procedure might leave behind an egg or two. As you might remember from biology class, egg + sperm = possible pregnancy. And since the whole reason you’re freezing your eggs in the first place is because you’re not ready to have a baby (or multiple) right now, contraception is key!
Mindy says: “You’re freezing your eggs, which is going to give you time to find the right guy.”
The truth: Yep, Mindy’s 100% right on this one—and she’s addressing one of the most-cited reasons that real-life women give for egg freezing: the desire to find the right partner.