What’s the Best Age to Freeze My Eggs?
If you're thinking about freezing your eggs and you've started to gather information about it, you're probably coming across a lot of information. This can definitely be overwhelming but there’s no need to panic! We're here to help you figure out if egg freezing is the right choice for you, no matter what age you are.
What is egg freezing?
Before we dive further into this topic, what is egg freezing? Egg freezing, known as oocyte cryopreservation in the medical world, is a technique used to preserve someone’s fertility. Eggs are collected from the ovaries and frozen so they can be used in the future. If the person is unable to get pregnant naturally, the eggs are unfrozen and used in an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure, like in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Whether you know you want to have kids or you aren’t sure and want to give yourself more time to figure it out, think of egg freezing as a way to keep your options open for the future.
Should I freeze my eggs?
There are many, many reasons why someone might choose to freeze their eggs but the decision is a deeply personal one that requires some careful consideration. When making that decision though, it’s important to know that egg freezing is not an “insurance policy” for your fertility. While egg freezing can take some of the stress of having a baby right now off your shoulders, it is not a guarantee that you’ll have a baby in the future.
Why not? Well, not all the eggs that get frozen will actually be viable. It’s expected that some eggs will not survive the warming process. In addition, the chances of the eggs that do survive being successfully fertilized depends partially on how old you were when you froze them (more on this later). Beyond that, fertility and pregnancy risks change with age. If you freeze your eggs at 30 and use them when you're 40, you'll have to deal with the realities of pregnancy at 40.
This is not to sway your decision one way or another. Ultimately, only you and your doctor can decide if egg freezing is the right decision for you. But it's important to go in knowing that it’s not meant to be a done deal.
Pros of egg freezing
Ok, now that we’ve gone through the basics, let’s discuss the pros and cons.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of freezing your eggs is the fact that it lowers the risk of having children with genetic abnormalities associated with ovarian aneuploidy. Ovarian aneuploidy refers to when an egg has an abnormal number of chromosomes which leads to an abnormal pregnancy. Most people are born with 46 total chromosomes (23 pairs). The most common aneuploidy risk seen by far is Down syndrome. Babies with Down syndrome have an extra copy of one of these chromosomes, chromosome 21. The medical term for having an extra copy of a chromosome is “trisomy” so Down syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21. Freezing your eggs at a younger age decreases (but does not totally eliminate) the risk of an abnormal number of chromosomes.
Another benefit of egg freezing is that it puts the decision-making power entirely in your hands. Whether you’re freezing your eggs because you want to focus on your career or you’re getting a medical treatment that may affect your fertility later on or you’re waiting to find the right partner, freezing your eggs allows you to preserve some of your fertility independently.
Egg freezing also gives you options in terms of having your own biological children. Of course, there is the obvious option of having the eggs fertilized and the embryos implanted into your uterus. But you also have the option of having those embryos implanted into a gestational carrier or into your partner if they have uterus.
Finally, freezing your eggs does not affect your ability to get pregnant naturally. The egg freezing process and retrieval procedure simply rescue eggs that would have died with your next menstrual cycle. This means it does not affect your ovarian reserve (the number of eggs in your ovaries). Once you’ve completed the full process, your body will continue to ovulate and release an egg each month like normal.
Cons of egg freezing
Now, let’s talk about the disadvantages of egg freezing.
The most obvious downside is the cost. While some insurance plans may cover egg freezing, this isn’t the case most of the time. The out-of-pocket cost of egg freezing varies but it can be up to $20,000 depending on where you are and which clinic you use. This typically includes bloodwork, medications, ultrasounds, and the egg retrieval procedure. This does not include the annual storage fee (which can be up to $800 per year) and any follow-up procedures if you end up using those eggs. Learn how you can freeze for free with Freeze by Co.
The next thing to consider is the hormone medications and egg retrieval process themselves. These medicines not only require injecting yourself (or having a partner or friend do it) but they can have some not-so-fun side effects. These can include fatigue, nausea, bloating, headaches, abdominal pain, breast tenderness, and irritability. A severe risk of hormone medications is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This condition can lead to blood clots, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, dehydration and vomiting. It may even require admission to the hospital to manage. Thankfully, OHSS is rare nowadays, affecting only up to 2% of patients.
The egg retrieval process is quick and the most common symptoms afterwards are pelvic or abdominal pain, constipation, bloating, and spotting. The main concern here is the time you need. One typical egg-freezing cycle can range from 10 to 14 days and during that time you'll be attending doctor appointments almost daily to make sure your eggs are maturing correctly.
If you’re taking any gender-affirming hormones like testosterone, you may need to take a break in order to freeze your eggs. One study showed that transgender men who used gender-affirming hormones and stopped a few months before fertility treatments ended up with the same number of eggs as cis women. But getting off hormones can be hard and could trigger gender dysphoria so the best option is to freeze eggs before transitioning if at all possible.
No one likes to be the bearer of bad news but this is an important one. Egg freezing may mean your eggs stay the same age forever but unfortunately, your body does not. As you age, the risks of pregnancy increase for both you and your potential child. These risks include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, c-section delivery, preterm delivery of a baby with low birth weight and other risks related to the pregnancy being IVF. However, these risks vary widely depending on many other factors.
One final caveat to remember is that egg freezing does not guarantee a live birth. It’s likely that not all eggs will survive the thawing process. Some will not fertilize. Others fertilize abnormally, and still others don’t implant successfully in the uterus. A large study at NYU in July 2022 showed a 39% live birth rate for people who used their frozen eggs. The two factors that affected the success rates the most were age at the time of egg freezing and the number of eggs thawed. Specifically, the live birth rate was over 50% for people who thawed at least 20 eggs or who were under 38 when they froze their eggs. Which brings us to our next question: what age is best for egg freezing?
When should I freeze my eggs?
Let me start by saying that there is no perfect age at which to freeze your eggs. However, the TL;DR is that the younger you can do it, the better. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), an optimal time to freeze your eggs is in your 20s and early 30s, while you have a higher ovarian reserve and eggs are healthier. So whether you’re 25 or 35, you can absolutely freeze your eggs!
A large 2020 study at a fertility clinic that specializes in this area looked at egg freezing cycles for over 1,200 people. It compared the average number of eggs people of different ages were able to freeze versus the “optimal” or goal number of eggs they should freeze. This goal number was based on how many eggs would give them a 70% live birth rate after doing 1 or 2 egg freezing cycles (this rate is calculated using some other numbers and it typically goes up as we age to make up for the lower number of healthy eggs).
The study found that younger people, unsurprisingly, have an easier time freezing the goal number of eggs in one cycle. As people aged, they needed multiple egg freezing cycles to reach that goal number.
These findings bring up a common question–is it worth freezing eggs after age 35? Well, it depends. The ASRM does not recommend egg freezing for people older than 38, but this isn’t a strict cutoff. Everyone’s fertility goes down at a different rate. Having your fertility hormones checked can sometimes help you and your doctor get a general idea of what your ovarian reserve is. This can better help you decide if egg freezing is right for you.
Egg freezing can be a tricky process to navigate and you are not alone when it comes to questions and concerns around it. Freeze by Co is here to help you every step of the way. With our Split program, people between 21 to 34 years old have the chance to freeze their eggs for free! In a “Split” cycle, you would donate half of the eggs retrieved to a family that’s trying to conceive and freeze the remaining half for yourself. If you’re over 34, you can still participate in the Keep program up to age 40. You would be able to freeze your eggs and keep them all for yourself, on your timeline while having access to an additional valuable resource in our support community, The Nest. This community allows you to engage with other people freezing their eggs at the exact same time!
Regardless of which path you choose, our team will be there to guide you through the process as we work to keep your family-building options on the table.
How Many Eggs Should I Aim to Freeze?
You might have heard at some point that freezing your eggs can help you preserve your fertility options for your long term future. But just how many eggs should you freeze? Is there an optimal number for egg freezing?
Let’s take a look at how many eggs you can expect to get during the retrieval process and how many eggs you should be freezing for fertility preservation.
How many eggs do I have?
Before we talk about the number of eggs you should freeze during oocyte cryopreservation — more commonly known as freezing your eggs — we should probably talk about how many eggs are in your ovaries right now.
Your fertility doctor may have mentioned the term ovarian reserve a few times. When they do that, they’re talking about the number of eggs in your body. But how many eggs are in that reserve?
There is no exact answer here. On average, women are born with anywhere from one to two million eggs. Some women are born with more. Some women are born with less.
It may sound like a lot either way, but most of the eggs we’re born with don’t stick around. By the time most of us hit adolescence,we have about 300,000 eggs left. From there, the number of eggs in the body naturally decreases by about 1,000 every year, and the decline becomes more rapid after age 35.
That’s where egg freezing comes into play. The doctors of the Association of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) states that planned oocyte preservation is “ethically permissible” because it provides women with more autonomy over their reproductive choices.
Doctors can get a sense of how large your ovarian reserve is before egg freezing by testing the level of the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH) in your body. This test looks at both your ovarian reserve and how well your body may or may not respond to medications that will stimulate the ovaries. What it can’t determine, however, is the quality of those eggs. And ultimately, you need both quantity and quality.
How many eggs do I need to freeze?
OK, so you may have a lot of eggs in your ovarian reserve — or maybe not. But how many do you actually need to freeze?
This answer varies from person to person and depends on a few individual factors:
- How old are you right now?
- Do you plan to freeze all of your eggs or do you hope to also donate some to help intended parents grow their family?
- If you think you may want to have children one day, how many do you have in mind?
This list presents a lot to think about, so let’s dive a little deeper to help you make informed decisions about the number of eggs you freeze.
The right number of eggs to freeze for your age
Different folks have different reasons for freezing their eggs. Some may be thinking about prolonging their fertility into the future. Others may be freezing some eggs but also hoping to donate some eggs to help others grow a family — something that’s done via our Split program, where you freeze for free when donating half of the eggs to a family that can’t otherwise conceive.
Either way, studies have found that the optimal number of eggs to freeze really comes down to your age. That’s because the number of eggs in the body isn’t the only thing to decrease as you get older — egg quality decreases too, and egg quality is the number one factor in determining whether an egg can eventually result in a live birth.
Here are the number of eggs you’ll want to freeze based on your age in order to obtain an optimal live birth rate:
How many eggs are retrieved?
For egg donors aged 25-29, the average number of eggs retrieved is 18, and that number drops to 16 for people age 30-35 — although it varies from person to person.
Your reproductive endocrinologist will be able to tell you the day of your retrieval how many eggs were retrieved. This number will include both mature and immature eggs, so it’s not necessarily the total number of eggs that can be frozen.
- May be partially or completely damaged or have its quality compromised in some way
- Lower chance of fertilization
- Have good egg quality
- Are more likely to be fertilized
- Can be frozen
After your retrieval, all of your eggs will be sent to an incubator to check maturity. The lab technicians will look for eggs to achieve meiosis, a kind of cell division that occurs in egg cells.
The eggs that achieve meiosis will be frozen, and you will be notified of the total number.
Should I do multiple egg retrievals?
What happens if you don’t get as many eggs as you had hoped during your egg retrieval cycle?
If you’ve undergone one round of egg freezing and the number of eggs your reproductive endocrinologist retrieved from your ovaries wasn’t as high as you’d hoped, you may want to talk to them about trying again.
There is technically no limit to the number of egg freezing rounds a person can undergo, but it’s not recommended that egg donors undergo more than six cycles. If you’re hoping to split your eggs with intended parents (donating half of the eggs retrieved) as part of our Split Program, you may find that additional retrievals help you provide the optimal amount of eggs for a live birth for you and for the intentend parents too.
Of course, you should talk to your doctor about any risks or benefits that come with additional rounds.
The right number of eggs to freeze to have multiple children
If you’re planning to have a big family one day, you may want to look at the number of eggs it’s recommended you freeze to achieve one live birth and talk to your doctor about freezing more eggs.
For example, the studies show that a woman under age 35 will need to freeze about nine eggs to achieve a 70% chance of a live birth. If you’re under age 35 now and thinking you might want to use frozen eggs to conceive twice in your future, you will want to freeze closer to 18 eggs to achieve that 70% chance each time.
That number will increase with each number of children you foresee — provided your expectation is that each child will be conceived with the use of the eggs you are currently freezing.
There is no “magic number” when it comes to freezing your eggs. Your age, your future plans, and more all come into play.
We’re here to answer any questions you might have, and the Cofertility community is also here to lend support as you consider all the important factors to make the choice that is right for you.
When Should I Freeze My Eggs?
It may not come as a surprise to learn that the prime time for freezing your eggs is actually a lot earlier than you think. According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), freezing your eggs while you’re still in your 20s can help boost your chances of a successful pregnancy—and a 2010 report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that those eggs have a higher chance at resulting in a live birth no matter your age when you decide to start your family.
For many women, that means the best time to freeze their eggs is likely the moment they start wondering when they should start. Read on to see what you need to know about why freezing your eggs before you’re even sure what you want to do with them is the best way to ensure you’ll be able to make the decision for yourself when the time is right.
Your body produces a different number of eggs at different times
Your late 20s and early to mid-30s are considered the peak time to retrieve eggs—with a 2015 study from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine saying you’ll see the best results prior to the age of 34 — because your body has reached complete development and your eggs are at their most healthy and plentiful point.
That doesn’t mean that the quality of your eggs takes a major dip when you celebrate your 38th birthday. Instead, it means that as you add more and more candles to your birthday cake each year your body begins to produce fewer eggs. This becomes important when you realize how many eggs you’ll need to retrieve when you begin the process of freezing your eggs.
Take the 2020 study from Assisted Reproduction Technologies (ART) that showed women under the age of 35 were retrieving an average of 21 eggs during their first round of egg freezing while women between the ages of 35-37 were retrieving an average of 17. Four eggs may not seem like that big of a difference at first, but once you take into account how many eggs experts say you should have on hand when it comes time to start fertilization you’ll begin to realize just how quickly those numbers add up.
Producing fewer eggs may increase costs
The saying less is more doesn’t apply too much in the world of fertility, where your chances of going on to have a live birth increase based on the number of eggs you have on hand when it comes time to fertilize and implant them.
That 2020 ART study that showed the average number of eggs retrieved each cycle also showed that if you're under the age of 35 you will need 9 eggs for a 70% chance at having a baby. However, if you’re looking to hit that same 70% mark in your later years (think 38-40), you’ll need closer to 18 eggs to have the same chances at a live birth. With women in that age range only averaging 17 eggs per retrieval, that may mean multiple cycles, and with a $10,000-20,000 price tag that can quickly add up.
The best time to freeze your eggs is, unfortunately, usually before you can afford it
Not many people have that much money readily available in their 20s, which is why egg freezing is often financially out of reach for those who would benefit most from it. With programs like Freeze by Co you can take advantage of those peak fertility years even if you can’t exactly swing the costs.
One program offered by Freeze by Co is Split. Split Members benefit by offsetting the cost of freezing their eggs by donating half of them to a family that cannot otherwise conceive. Split Members match with intended parents, and undergo an egg freezing cycle where half of their eggs are donated to the perfect intended parents (after testing and meeting qualifications, of course). The other half are then stored (for free) for the split member for up to 10 years.
If you’d rather hold onto all your eggs until you’ve decided what your fertility future holds, you can use Freeze by Co’s Keep Member plan. These members can still benefit from lower costs, thanks to things like reduced medication fees, consultation discounts, and more.
This is the most cost-effective age to freeze your eggs
With all these numbers flying around you may be wondering where the health benefits and the financial benefits meet. According to a 2015 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility, the two numbers seem to cross paths at the age of 35.
Women who freeze their eggs at 35 for use by the age of 40 spend an estimated $15,000 less than those who are trying to have a baby at 40. And that’s not the only good news, that math seems to hold up all the way until the age of 38.
Freezing your eggs should be a positive experience
With the accessibility Cofertility gives women to take control of their fertility process, you can feel empowered to make decisions based on what’s in the best interest for you and your body without having to worry about your bank account.
Getting an earlier start at freezing your eggs through Freeze by Co (even if you don’t have a partner or aren’t even sure that your dream future includes children yet) will:
- Give you a higher chance at eventually achieving a live birth even if you wait until your late 30s or early 40s.
- Allow you to wait on making major decisions about your education, career, and future until you’re ready.
- Offer you the freedom to make medical decisions based on what’s right for you instead of what type of coverage your employer offers at the time.
- Provide peace of mind because no matter what your future family may look like you’ve already taken the first step to making your dreams a reality.
Even if you’ve missed that peak window into your fertility there are still plenty of benefits to freezing your eggs. With all of the new plans offered by Freeze by Co you’re likely to find one that will fit your current needs while giving you a chance to plan for your future.
The Ultimate Guide to the Split Program
Our Split program offers women the chance to freeze half their own eggs and donate the other half to a family who cannot conceive otherwise. If you’re eligible for the program, by meeting Cofertility’s requirements, and decide to donate half of your retrieved eggs, your egg freezing procedure, medications, and ten years of storage will be completely free of charge.
Freezing your eggs—and, potentially, donating some eggs—undoubtedly brings up lots of big questions that are important to talk about. Let’s dive into all the information you need to know about our Split program.
Where do my donated eggs go?
Many types of families need donated eggs to grow their family, including couples facing infertility, LGBTQ+ couples, cancer survivors, women with age-related fertility decline, and more. We welcome all intended parents to use our platform to find their match.
Who qualifies for the Split program?
While we’d love to have as many women join our Split program as possible, we do follow guidelines designed to protect the health and wellbeing of the donors and intended parents.
To qualify for the program, among other factors, you must:
- Have both ovaries
- Be between ages 21-33
- Have a BMI less than 29, due to limitations on medication administration and egg retrieval complexities
- Be physically and emotionally healthy with no genetic or reproductive disorders/abnormalities
- Be a non-smoker and abstain from recreational drugs or Depo Provera birth control
If you're currently pregnant or breastfeeding, you may still be eligible, but you'll have to wait until you have stopped breastfeeding and have had at least one menstrual cycle before you can begin your egg retrieval. Lastly, you must also be willing to provide a complete medical history about yourself and your biological family members, as they may have other disqualifying factors.
How does the process work?
We’re so glad you asked. Here’s a quick overview of how the application, matching and retrieval process works.
Take the quiz
To kick off the process, take our quiz and tell us a bit about yourself. This only takes about a minute and gives a sense of what programs you might be qualified for.
Based on your quiz responses, if you’re eligible to move forward with applying for Split, you can complete the full program application at this time. This application determines if you qualify for the program, and helps create and personalize your profile so intended parents can get a feel for who you are and if you would be a good match for their family.
Split Member interview
Once you are accepted into Split, you will get to meet the team who will help you through this process. This is a chance for our team to get to know you and an opportunity for you to ask any and all questions before your profile is shared with intended parents on the platform.
Matching with an intended parent
Once your profile is listed on our platform and you match with intended parents, we’ll facilitate the process between you and the intended parents. You could match with intended parents quickly or it could take a while, but know that you’ll always be able to switch into our Keep program if you decide you don’t want to wait.
Once you have officially matched with the intended parents, you’ll undergo a physical screening based on FDA, ASRM and industry guidelines. This will also include bloodwork and a (fairly painless) vaginal ultrasound to determine how many eggs you have in your ovarian reserve and if you would be a good fit for Split. Depending on where you and the intended parents’ are located, the testing may take place at a clinic near you or there some travel may be required. Our team will organize the travel and help make this easy for you.
If you get the green light and are accepted into Split, you’ll move onto the stimulation phase. This is the phase where you’ll take injectable medications to stimulate your ovaries to bring as many eggs to maturity as possible and get you ready for retrieval. This can sound scary, but we’ve got lots of helpful tutorials to walk you through it all. You’ll also be monitored by a local fertility clinic throughout the process to check on how things are progressing. This full stimulation period usually takes 10-14 days.
Once your eggs have reached the point of peak maturity and they’re ready to be retrieved, you’ll head back to the clinic for this procedure. This outpatient procedure takes about 30 minutes, and you’ll be under light anesthesia. The doctor will use a vaginal ultrasound to remove the eggs.
Immediately upon retrieval, half the retrieved eggs will be frozen and stored for you for free for 10 years. You can access those eggs at any time and have them shipped to the fertility clinic of your choosing should you need them. The other half of the retrieved eggs will go to the intended parents and can be fertilized with the intended parents’ sperm of choice.
In the event that an odd number of eggs is retrieved, the “additional” egg will go to the intended parents.
Depending on the number of eggs you’re able to retrieve in the first cycle, you can decide if you want to complete a second cycle so that you can donate again or have more eggs to keep for your future use.
For women under 35, studies show that the average number of eggs retrieved is 18-21, a number that is tightly correlated with AMH (anti-mullerian hormone) levels—which are tested as part of the screening process. The same studies show that freezing just nine eggs gave those women a 70% chance at a live birth.
What will I know about potential genetic offspring and what will they know about me?
In the case a donor-conceived child experiences a serious medical condition, you may need to provide medical information to us, the fertility clinic, or the intended parents. Also, if new information comes up about your medical history, we’ll need you to let us know. The intended parents are required to do the same. This is in everyone’s best interest so everyone can be made aware of unknown medical conditions which can occur.
That being said, when you apply, you’ll have the choice to indicate a desire for Disclosed or Undisclosed donation.
- Disclosed: You meet the family (virtually or by phone is fine) before proceeding with the match. The level of relationship after the match is what both parties make of it.
- Undisclosed: You match with a family without meeting them, and only communicate via Cofertility. No contact info is exchanged. Note that if both parties are interested, we can facilitate a phone or video meeting in which you can speak without sharing names.
Note that with today’s widely available genetic tests, it is extremely difficult to guarantee anonymity. There have also been changes in some state laws that give donor-conceived children more access to information about their donors, meaning it’s possible that identity and shared genetics may be discovered or made more broadly available by law even if you chose to be Undisclosed.
Overall, we take a human-based approach. Based on psychological wellbeing research, we encourage families to be open to their children about their conception story and donor-conceived roots. As donor-conceived children grow up, they may be curious about their genetics and want to reach out with their own questions. This is something to consider prior to moving forward with the Split program.
Summing it up
We know, first-hand, that freezing your eggs—especially when donating half—is a big decision that isn’t to be taken lightly. Our hope is that this overview (along with tons more helpful material along the way!) provides a solid foundation about our Split program so you can feel totally confident in navigating whether joining Split is right for you.
We’re always here to answer any questions you might have. You can always reach out to us here.
5 Tips to Improve Egg Quality Before Your Egg Freezing Cycle
Many folks who have made the big (and exciting) decision to freeze their eggs want to improve their egg quality before freezing. But is egg quality really something you can control? What kinds of lifestyle changes should you make before freezing your eggs? Read on for a look at what the research says about egg quality — and what you can do to improve it before the egg freezing process begins.
What is egg quality?
As you’ve been exploring the egg freezing process, you may have heard your fertility doctor mention that freezing during your 20s can be beneficial because your egg quality will likely be higher.
It’s annoying, but true: as women age, our egg quality typically goes down further and further. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) estimates a woman’s chances of getting pregnant begin to decrease at age 32 and continue to gradually go down until about age 37 when the decrease becomes more rapid. ACOG links this decrease in what they call fecundity — another word for fertility — to egg quality.
This is one of the many reasons Freeze by Co partners with local fertility clinics to create opportunities for women in their 20s to freeze eggs more affordably. We want you to have more control over your reproductive choices, even if you’re not looking to get pregnant during this peak egg quality period.
But what does “egg quality” (also called oocyte competence) actually mean? Are doctors being a tad judgmental about a woman’s age? Not at all.
When fertility specialists use this term, they’re referring to whether your eggs are considered genetically normal or abnormal, and it’s tied pretty closely to the chances that an egg could ever result in pregnancy.
Euploid vs. aneuploid embryos
While sperm health is undeniably important, it all starts with the egg. The quality of embryos made from your eggs comes down to two different types:
- Euploid embryos
- These embryos are genetically “normal.”
- They contain the right number of chromosomes at 46.
- Aneuploid embryos
- These embryos are genetically “abnormal.”
- They contain either fewer or more chromosomes than normal.
- Embryos created with a low quality egg may inherit either too many or too few chromosomes.
- Most aneuploid embryos will either fail to implant or result in miscarriage as they are usually not compatible with life.
There’s also a significantly higher risk that an aneuploid embryo will not implant in the uterus after an in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer — one study found as much as 96 percent of abnormal embryos transferred into the uterus did not implant. On the other hand, that same study found when euploid embryos were transferred, the pregnancy rate was 82 percent.
Do I need to improve my egg quality before freezing?
So if euploid embryos start with healthy eggs, you’re probably wondering: do I need to improve my egg quality before freezing?
Some factors that affect egg quality such as your personal genetics and the passing of time can’t be controlled. But there are ample steps you can take to influence the health and quality of your eggs.
Here are some simple changes that research shows may improve egg quality. We recommend you consider making these changes at least three months prior to egg freezing:
If you’re using cigarettes, now is a good time to stop. Studies have found that smoking can have a detrimental effect on fertility. Puffing on cigarettes can increase the risk of infertility by as much as 60 percent with negative effects on the menstrual cycle, uterus, and ovaries. It’s the effect on the ovaries that is particularly troubling when it comes to egg quality with smoking damaging the DNA of the eggs themselves.
Although there aren’t a lot of studies on the effect of marijuana on fertility, those that exist indicate THC — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — can result in an impaired ability to produce viable embryos. According to a study published in the Journal of the Endocrine Society in 2020, the exposure of oocytes to THC was linked to a “significant decrease in the expression of genes called connexins.” These connexins are an important marker of egg quality. For our Split members, we require them to stop using marijuana products at least one month prior to retrieval.
Improve your diet
There is never a bad time to eat a healthy diet, and if you’re planning to freeze your eggs in the near future there are extra reasons to make smart choices at meal time. Eating a diet rich in leafy greens, whole grains, and lean proteins can all help those egg cells.
Here are some rock star foods you might want to consider adding to your diet when you’ve got an eye on improving egg quality (plus the benefits they bring):
- Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout — Omega 3 fatty acids
- Egg yolks — Vitamin D
- Beans, oats, oranges, and cantaloupe — Inositol
- Fruits and veggies of any kind — Antioxidants
- Oysters, beef, chickpeas, lentils, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and pine nuts — Zinc
Before embarking on any major diet changes, check with a registered dietician. They can help you craft a plan that’s just right for your body.
Talk to your doctor about supplements
If you’re not already taking vitamins, you may want to chat with your reproductive endocrinologist about whether you should add Vitamin A, Vitamin B, folate and zinc — or maybe one of the four — to your daily routine. Studies have linked all three of these micronutrients to egg quality over the years, affecting the synthesis of DNA and other factors in oocyte development.
Your doctor may want to check your vitamin D level with some bloodwork or go over your current vitamin regimen before deciding if adding on additional supplements is necessary. Make sure to bring any dietary changes you’re making into the conversation too — there can be too much of a good thing when it comes to some vitamins!
Talk to your doctor about your weight
Being told you need to hop on the scale when you’re at the reproductive endocrinologist’s office can be frustrating, especially if you’ve struggled to lose or gain weight in the past, or if you have a condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) that affects your weight.
Still, the weight conversation is one worth having with your fertility specialist if you’re worried about your egg quality. Both being over and underweight has been linked to egg quality by researchers time and again.
The “right” weight for your body is one you and your doctor can discuss. If changes are in order, they can help craft a plan for healthy changes — or recommend a dietician who can. For our Split program, there are BMI requirements, which you can read more about here.
The bottom line
The quality of your eggs may not be completely in your control, but you do have solid options when it comes to improving your egg quality before freezing. What you put into your body makes a difference, and making changes now can make a real difference down the line.
Why Do Female Physicians Face a Higher Rate of Infertility?
If you’re a female physician in the United States, you may have heard that you’re at a higher risk of infertility than your female friends who took a different career path. It certainly sounds like the kind of “fact’ that gets posted on social media one day and suddenly becomes gospel, whether it’s true or not.
Unfortunately, we can’t just write this one off as a social media hoax. Researchers have run the numbers, and it turns out almost 25% of female doctors who are trying to conceive are faced with fertility challenges. This is about double the rate of the general public.
“It turns out almost 25% of female doctors who are trying to conceive are faced with fertility challenges. This is about double the rate of the general public. “
So what’s going on? Should you be freezing your eggs now just in case? Is there anything else you can do? Read on for the research into this fertility concern and what American doctors are doing about it.
Female doctors and fertility
General fertility rates have been trending downward in the US in recent decades with the CDC reporting record low birth rates in 2018 and only minimal increases since. In 2021, the American birth rate was 1,663 births per 1,000 women — not enough to maintain stable population figures in the US.
And while some of that could be due to personal choice, scientists have found increasing rates of reproductive problems are cropping up in women and men. Miscarriage rates are up about one % every year and so are the rates of gestational surrogacy — an option growing in popularity for intended parents seeking the help of an additional party for conception.
But the plight of female doctors stands out among all these figures:
- 1 in 4 — The approximate number of female physicians who were diagnosed with infertility after trying to have a baby, according to a survey published in the Journal of Women’s Health in 2016
- 11 % — The percentage of American women in the general population have had the same diagnosis.
- 42 % —The amount of female surgeons who have experienced a pregnancy loss, according to a survey published in JAMA Surgery in July 2021 which reported that 42 % had experienced a pregnancy loss.
What’s going on?
What makes female doctors so different from the rest of the population? In part, their education.
There’s no real way to put this nicely: Age matters when it comes to fertility. Extensive medical research on fertility shows that getting older has a major effect on our reproduction system and our ability to conceive.
But many female doctors — surgeons included — delay pregnancy until after the completion of their residency. How long that will take depends on the doctor’s specialty, but this can be another three to eight years after medical school. For surgeons, a residency is a minimum of five years.
That puts many female doctors into their 30s before they even begin trying to have their first child. In fact, in the 2016 survey, doctors reported they were 31.6 year old on average at completion of medical school and residency and 30.4 years on average at first pregnancy. By comparison, the average age of an American woman giving birth for the first time in the US is 26 years old, according to data compiled for the New York Times in 2018.
Almost a third — 28% — of the female doctors surveyed in 2016 who experienced fertility challenges said they would have begun trying to conceive earlier if they could have seen what lay ahead. Close to the same number — 29% — said they experienced diminished ovarian reserve, a condition in which their fertility challenge was linked to having fewer eggs in the body. This condition is largely associated with age.
But delaying reproduction is only part of the puzzle.
Even after adjusting for age, female physicians have higher rates of infertility. Perhaps this is due to female doctors facing high rates of stress at work that put a strain on the body and can affect reproduction as a whole. Those who opt to start a family before residency is complete may face irregular work schedules and long, grueling shifts that can put intense strain on anyone’s body, but prove especially hard for someone who is pregnant.
Together, all of these factors can have a significant impact on the fertility of a female doctor.
How can female doctors preserve their fertility?
The numbers may seem a little daunting, especially if you’re in medical school or the midst of your residency. So what can women do about it?
An infertility task force now exists as part of the American Medical Women’s Association to find answers to this problem plaguing women in medicine, and individual doctors around the country have been working to advocate for improved fertility education and fertility insurance coverage for their peers.
One of the chief criticisms of the current system comes from Dr. Areila Marshall, one of the founders of the AMWA task force, who wrote about the issue in the journal Academic Medicine in 2020 calling for better awareness of egg, embryo, and sperm cryopreservation.
Marshall echoed a wish expressed by a number of the physicians who took part in the original 2016 survey: 7% of those doctors said they wished they had known to use cryopreservation to extend their fertility.
For female doctors who don’t know when — or even if — they want to conceive, egg freezing can be a viable option.
Freezing is not a guarantee that you will have a baby down the line. It simply means that eggs will be there, waiting, if you decide at some point in the future that you wish to explore conception.
At Freeze by Co, we are committed to giving women the opportunity to have more control over their reproductive choices. Here women have a variety of paths they can choose from when it comes to egg freezing – whether they’re looking to freeze eggs now or have already frozen some of their eggs.
Members of our Split program even freeze for free when they give half of their eggs to intended parents who cannot otherwise conceive.
Women should not have to choose between a dream of pursuing a career in medicine and making reproductive decisions on their own timeline. Egg freezing gives women the power to make more choices about her own body.
Does Insurance Cover Egg Freezing?
Freezing your eggs can be a major expense. With most clinics and egg freezing companies, the cost of freezing your eggs can run between $10,000 - 20,000, including upfront consultation costs and the retrieval process. Once the retrieval is complete, you can expect to pay an additional storage fee, which ranges depending on the clinic or facility.
We believe the best time to freeze your eggs is when you can least afford it. While we provide more affordable — even free! — egg freezing options, if you do not qualify for our Split program, where you can freeze your eggs for free when you give half to another family who can’t conceive, we’ve still lightened the financial load of egg freezing with partnerships and discounts as part of our Keep program. That said, we always recommend taking a closer look at the fine print of your health insurance policy to see what you’re entitled to.
As of June 2022, there are 20 states in the US that have laws on the books requiring health insurance companies provide some type of coverage for infertility. However, for those looking to be proactive about their fertility and freeze their eggs without an infertility diagnosis, coverage is even more sparse.
In a 2020 study tracking the coverage of employer sponsored fertility benefits, Mercer discovered that just 42 percent of employers with 20,000 or more employees provide coverage for IVF. Unfortunately, those numbers drop significantly for those looking to help offset the cost of proactive egg freezing, with just 19 percent of employers in that same size employee pool providing coverage.
If you don’t live in a state with mandated fertility coverage (or work for one of the 19 percent of large companies that include egg freezing as part of their benefit package) there are a few things you need to know about how your health insurance policy stacks up when it comes to freezing your eggs.
Your health insurance may cover some costs
According to the journal Dovepress, the process of freezing your eggs is called vitrification. There are several steps involved in completing the vitrification process. While your insurer may cover parts of this process (like some basic blood work) other parts may require you pay out of pocket (like the cost to store your eggs after they’ve been frozen).
- Consultations: You will likely have a sit down meeting with your doctor to discuss your fertility plans. If your insurance covers fertility procedures like having your eggs frozen, your insurer may cover these types of visits in full. If they're not covered you may need to foot the bill for a portion of the visit like a co-pay.
- Blood tests and lab work: You’re going to have to have to undergo a few different types of tests throughout the process of freezing your eggs to monitor important things like the quantity and quality of your eggs (ovarian reserve testing), as well as an ultrasound of your ovaries (to check their function), and screens that will confirm your overall health (which include a variety of tests including routine lab work like a Complete Blood Count).
- Medications: Typically your doctor will prescribe synthetic hormones to help manage your ovulation. There are a few different different types of medication used, depending on what stage of the process you're in, including drugs that can help your ovaries produce multiple eggs ahead of the retrieval and ones that will prevent premature ovulation so that you and your medical team can get the timing of your retrieval just right.
- Retrieval: Once it's time for your egg retrieval, you'll do this on-site as an outpatient procedure where you go home the same day. You'll be under anesthesia for this procedure, requiring the expertise of a few different medical professionals.
- Storage fees: After your eggs have been successfully retrieved they will need to go into storage. Depending on the type of facility you used for your retrieval, this may be handled by them or taken care of by a third party.
Questions to ask your insurer
To get the best picture of what your insurance covers when you freeze your eggs you should call your benefit hotline to ask a few key coverage questions like:
- Are all of my medical consultations covered, especially if I meet with a few different facilities before choosing one?
- Do I have to have a diagnosis or preexisting condition to have any portion of freezing my eggs covered?
- How does the coverage for freezing my eggs factor into my lifetime limit for fertility treatment?
- Does my coverage change depending on whether the retrieval was successful?
- Will you cover any of the ongoing costs of freezing my eggs (like storage) and is there a time limit on how long that coverage lasts?
- What are my coverage options if I decide to use my eggs later on?
Making freezing your eggs more affordable
Through our Split program, members are able to freeze their eggs for free when they give half to another family in need of donated eggs. This could include LGBTQ+ parents, couples with infertility, or those with other fertility-impacting medical conditions.
If you’d rather keep all of the eggs from your retrieval, our Keep program still offers a more affordable way of freezing your eggs when your insurance won’t cover the total cost. Depending on where you live, some of the benefits of Keep may include lower medication costs, egg storage fees, and discounted consultations discounts.
Summing it up
Through most avenues, egg freezing can be pretty cost prohibitive. We’re excited to change this, while supporting reproductive choice for all women and helping intended parents seeking egg donation to help complete their families.
What Egg Freezing Can Tell You About Your Fertility
Deciding to freeze your eggs can do more than put you in the driver’s seat of your reproductive journey. Going through the process of retrieving and freezing your eggs can give you insights into your health, offer you peace of mind about how you’ll accomplish your goals, and allow you to create a blueprint for building the family you’ve always dreamed of.
As you and your doctor work together to ready your eggs for retrieval you’ll end up learning valuable information about the state of your fertility and what you need to know before you’re ready to take the next steps.
You could get a heads up about certain reproductive concerns
As part of the preparation for freezing your eggs your doctor will likely do ovarian reserve testing which uses a blood test called Anti-Mullierian Hormone (AMH). Using a blood sample collected on the third day of your period your doctor will be also able to see how much estradiol and follicle-stimulating hormones are present during this key window in your reproductive cycle.
AMH levels are generally higher during your childbearing years and then they begin to decline as you head towards menopause, becoming almost nonexistant afterwards.
You’ll get a better picture of your reproductive schedule
According to the Mayo Clinic, after you’ve decided to move forward with the process you’ll begin taking hormone injections. These hormones will have two distinct jobs—ovarian stimulation and preventing premature ovulation—which your doctor will achieve using a variety of medications.
Your doctor will begin monitoring you and checking two very important levels:
- Estrogen (an increase means your follicles are developing)
- Progesterone (low levels will mean you haven’t ovulated yet)
Not only will you discover how your body reacts to stimulation (giving you a great deal of information about how your egg production is going) but you’ll also have an idea of when you should ovulate. Knowing exactly when the clock starts ticking—your eggs will be ready for retrieval after 10-14 days—will let you know what you can expect for this cycle.
Your doctor will find out how many follicles you have
Speaking of follicles, these are the sacs where your eggs will stay until they have matured. Your doctor will likely use a vaginal ultrasound to check the status of your ovaries to see how many follicles have developed, indicating how many eggs you’ll likely have for retrieval. That number is going to be very important (and very exciting) for both you and your doctor.
To give you an idea of why that number matters so much, you’ll need to know how many eggs you need to increase the potential for a live birth. A 2020 study in the Journal of Assisted Reproduction and Genetics found that a woman under the age of 35 averaged 21 eggs on their first round of egg retrieval. At that age, you would need approximately 9 eggs to ensure a 70% chance of a live birth. Once you find out how many follicles you have you might have a better idea of your pregnancy success rate when the time comes.
There will be additional health screenings
Another thing you’ll learn about your fertility is whether you have any diseases that you can pass onto a future child, via a genetic carrier screening test. Your doctor will also likely have you undergo an infectious disease screening—which will check for things like HIV and certain varieties of hepatitis—as part of your work up. These tests are different from genetic screenings, which looks for the potential changes in your genetic blueprint indicating heredity conditions that can be passed onto your child.
Some people who freeze their eggs may do genetic testing ahead of time, whether because they already know that certain conditions run in their family or because they have a limited understanding of their family history. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), genetic testing can even give you information about some types of cancers that could impact your reproductive system, making it another important tool in your fertility arsenal.
Getting proactive can save you money
By being proactive about your fertility journey you not only get to make the decisions about what your future family will look like based on your terms, but you’ll also be able to get an idea of what may lie ahead for you if you decide to have a child.
Of course, freezing your eggs can be expensive. It costs an estimated $10,000-20,000 per cycle. Fortunately, there are egg freezing programs like Freeze by Co that can help you navigate financial pain points that may make planning for that future family a little bit harder by offsetting some of the costs associated with freezing your eggs. Freeze by Co offers members two different options for freezing their eggs. Split Members may qualify to freeze their eggs for free when they donate half of their eggs to other families looking to conceive.
There are even benefits for those who want to use the Freeze by Co’s Keep program. As the name indicates, Keep Members keep all of the eggs collected during retrieval while still benefiting from discounted costs in the way of less expensive medications and more.
How Do I Know If I Can Freeze My Eggs?
While in theory, the idea of egg freezing would have many raising their hands to give this a try, practically speaking it may be more complicated. There are real-world factors to consider: Do I need to freeze my eggs? Will I actually need them down the line? Am I a good candidate? And if so, would it actually fit into my budget, and are the logistics really feasible?
No need to wonder. Here’s what you need to know to make egg freezing possible in reality and the sort of programs where you can bring this to fruition.
Affordable egg freezing programs
We at Cofertility are dedicated to the idea that egg freezing should be more accessible. To make it possible for more of those who are interested, we have designed two different programs that prioritize different aspects of egg freezing. Take our quiz to see if you qualify for these programs.
Paying for keeps
With our “Keep” program, it’s about maximizing the number of eggs that you freeze, geared to enabling many people to be able to answer the question, “Can I freeze my eggs?” with a big, “Yes.”
As a member in this program, you get access to discounted prices we’ve negotiated with clinics and pharmacies, as well as a community of women also freezing their eggs at the same time. With this Keep program we give more leeway on exactly who can participate. While we are aware that research shows that fertility starts to decrease considerably after age 35, you can still take part in the program as long as you are under age 40.
This is egg freezing with real world families in mind, with steps taken to make fees more affordable. The idea is to lighten the load and to make budgeting for egg freezing that much easier, while bringing a little more joy and positivity to the process
The Split cycle
With our Split program, it’s all about taking budgeting out of the equation altogether, while helping another family.
As a Split program member, if you qualify, you don’t have to set money aside for these burdensome costs at all – they are free as part of the program, including up to ten-years of storage. In return, you give half of your retrieved eggs from a cycle to someone who would be otherwise unable to conceive. The family receiving the donated eggs pays for all the costs to freeze and store your eggs, for their use to build a family now, and your use in the future.
But, because we are splitting the number of eggs here, every single one counts that much more. So, we need to be more stringent in determining who can become a Split member.
Important X factors
One of the factors that we weigh heavily for the Split program is age. In order to participate, you cannot be over age 34. That’s because data shows that, on average, those over 35 may not respond to fertility medication as well and therefore may not produce as many eggs. Also, research shows that, unfortunately, egg quality declines with age.
Given the amount of time it may take to do initial testing and to match you with an intended parent, we have aligned our policy with ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine) guidance on this and limit membership here to those who have not yet turned 34. This way if there’s a hiccup along the way, you won’t have to miss out — there should still be sufficient time to participate in the program.
Another factor to consider is what’s known as your anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH) levels. These levels signal how responsive your ovaries are likely to be to medication given to stimulate them to produce multiple eggs. If this number is pretty high, it usually means that your ovaries will respond well to stimulation.
If at the time of initial screening, your ovarian reserve appears low based on your ultrasound and bloodwork, you, unfortunately, will not be eligible for the Split program, although you can still become a Keep member and achieve your goals that way. The ASRM guidance underscores the importance of considering biomarkers that indicate a donor’s potential ovarian reserve as part of the selection process. Scientists have found the AMH serum range of 2.20 to 6.8 ng/ml to be the one that research predicts will show if someone has enough ovarian reserve. This indicates how you will likely respond during an egg freezing cycle.
No matter your ovarian reserve, you can still freeze your eggs. You just may not qualify for our Split program. That’s because we want to ensure that enough eggs are produced in the cycle to make it worthwhile for everyone after the eggs are divided, without your feeling that you’ve come up short and won’t be happy unless you do another cycle.
If you’re among those who qualify though, as many in their fertility prime may be able, this can be a golden opportunity. Feel free to read more about qualifications for joining our Split program.
There is, of course, also the question of where you’ll need to go to make all this happen.
If you’re a Split member, your initial physical screening takes place after you are matched with an intended parent. This includes some blood work and a vaginal ultrasound, which helps determine if this program will work for you, and will likely take place somewhere between where you and the intended parent’s locale. If any travel is needed though, our team will help you to make this happen, doing the necessary organizing. But monitoring for the cycle itself can be done at a local clinic right in your own area.
Meanwhile, Keep members have the flexibility to do the testing as well as the cycle locally, where it’s most convenient.
Can you freeze your eggs?
So, is this something that could practically work for you? Both of our programs are designed to make this feasible for a wide-variety of women. We try to keep costs down for Keep members while offering added flexibility to pursue their egg freezing goals. Meanwhile, for Split members the financial barriers are removed altogether.
Hopefully, this helps you to see how, practically speaking, you too can raise your hand up high and answer the question, “Can you freeze your eggs?” with a giant, yes, to make egg freezing in reality.
Five Reasons to Freeze and Share Your Eggs With Another Family
Freezing your eggs is a big decision — one that we know, first-hand, can take time to think through — and freezing and sharing your eggs with another family is an even more weighted one. With our Split program, you can freeze your eggs for free when you give half to a family who can’t conceive. But beyond that, there’s even more that will come out of your Split program journey.
By freezing your eggs with Freeze by Co’s Split program, you’ll get to:
1. Invest in your reproductive future
Having kids may be way off your radar today. But if you might want children one day, freezing your eggs may help keep that possibility on the table. We believe in making that possibility as accessible as possible.
2. Do something life-changing for another family
By giving half of your eggs to another family who can’t conceive — whether it’s a couple with infertility, LGBTQ+ parents, or parents with other medical challenges — you’re making their family-building dreams possible. And that’s something truly incredible.
3. Empower yourself with knowledge about your body
By freezing your eggs, you’ll get an insight into the hormones and ovarian reserve levels that make up your fertility health.
4. Gain access to your own genetic family history
Once you match with a family, all Split members undergo genetic testing. This knowledge about your genetics could be super important down the line if you start to think about having kids.
5. Receive concierge-level support throughout the process
If you’re part of our Split program, we’ll hold your hand every step of the way. With direct access to our founders and our community of other women going through the process at the same time, you’re never alone.
We’re so excited for you. And remember, we’re always here to help.
How to Freeze Your Eggs for Free
Perhaps the idea of egg freezing is something that you’ve thought about before. For many of us, though, cost can be a big barrier. You might be hoping to find an affordable egg freezing program that can allow you to freeze your eggs now and store them without breaking the bank, as you pursue your own agenda.
Is this just a pipe dream? With Freeze by Co, it’s actually…not. Read about how our new option can enable you to give the idea of egg freezing another look, with—wait for it—free egg freezing. And you get to help a family along the way.
An affordable innovation
With some egg freezing programs, fees can run into the thousands initially and grow every year. But at Freeze by Co, it is our goal to make the process as affordable as possible. This led us to develop what we call our Split program.
With the Split program, if you are eligible, the premise is simple: for each cycle you undergo, you keep half of the eggs for yourself at absolutely no charge, plus up to ten years of storage, when you give the other half of the retrieved eggs to another family who can’t otherwise conceive. All of your medical expenses and travel related to egg freezing is covered as well.
What you get as a Split member
In addition to giving a life-changing gift to another family, as a Split member, you are entitled to the following for free with your egg freezing cycle:
- Egg retrieval
- Egg freezing and storage
- Procedure insurance
In addition to lightening your own financial load, the good you’ll be doing will be immeasurable.
Is it a fit?
To participate in Split, you must meet certain industry- and government-based criteria, including:
- Being between 21 and 33 years old. Age is a factor that contributes to waning fertility, which, while not true for everyone, tends to decline at age 35. Since the process leading up to egg donation can take time, we cap the program at age 33, as consistent with guidelines set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
- Having two ovaries
- Enjoying good physical and emotional health, without any reproductive issues or genetic abnormalities
- Having a body mass index (BMI) between 18 and 29 to enable optimal medication administration and egg retrieval outcomes
- Having avoided smoking and recreational drug use or Depo Provera injection as a mode of birth control
To learn more about all disqualifications for our Split program, click here.
To find out if our Split program is a way that we can help you reach your egg freezing goals, here’s how the process works:
First, take our brief quiz to learn more about our Split program and see if you’re a potential fit. It just takes a few minutes.
Applying for membership
Then, if you’ve pre-qualified, you move on to the application process. This is your chance to tell us more about your background and create a profile for intended parents to see and hopefully connect with. It will also help finalize your acceptance into the program.
The interview process
Next, we chat. You get to ask us any questions about the process and get to know us, as we get to know you as well. We’ll walk you through all program logistics and frequently asked questions so you feel completely comfortable with it all.
Find a match
Once you’ve been fully accepted into the program, the matching process begins. When your profile has been selected by intended parents, you’ll have the opportunity to accept the match. If you agree it’s a good fit, then the screening and freezing process can begin.
During the screening phase, we’ll get a sense of your ovarian reserve and overall physical health to get a sense of whether you’ll have enough eggs available to fairly split for yourself and the intended parents. If your ovarian reserve appears strong enough that splitting the retrieved egg yield has the chance to result in a live birth for both parties involved, and you continue to qualify based on the other physical and psychological screening factors, you’ll be given the final green light.
Now it’s all about your cycle. This means you’ll start taking injectable medications needed to enable your ovaries to produce multiple eggs. We have loads of materials that can help you successfully manage this.
After close monitoring, when the time is right, you’ll be scheduled for the egg retrieval. During this 30-minute process, the doctor will remove the eggs with the aid of vaginal ultrasound while you’re under light anesthesia.
Then, right away, your half of the eggs will be frozen. As a Split member, this whole process will be entirely free, including up to ten years of storage. In the case of an odd number of eggs, the extra one will be slated for use by the intended parents. However, any non-mature eggs retrieved will be frozen for you, since we don’t know what kind of medical advancements might take place over the next ten years.
As a Split member, if you feel that it would be beneficial for you down the line, you can always consider doing another cycle. This will allow you to add to what you already have in storage and reap the benefits of additional free egg freezing, making the most of the program.
Adding it up
Our Split program puts egg freezing in reach for all members. It removes what’s often the biggest obstacle to taking charge of your fertility timeline — cost — while allowing an opportunity to help another family.
Once you’ve completed the Split program, you can walk away knowing that not only have you figured out a way to make your goal of storing eggs a reality without the need for scrimping in other areas, but you’ve also succeeded in giving another family a golden opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
How to Fill Out Your Split Application (and Let Yourself Shine)
Freeze by Co’s Split program allows you to freeze your eggs for free when you donate half of your eggs retrieved to a family that otherwise can’t conceive. It’s a true win-win. But in order to start your freezing process, you first have to match with a family. The sooner you complete your application (and the more robust it is!), the sooner you’ll match and the sooner your own journey can begin. To jump start your process, we wanted to share a few tips on how to fill out your Split application and let your personality shine.
Tip #1: Be yourself!
We’re frequently asked what kinds of Split members our intended parents (IPs), or Family by Co members, are looking for. The truth is that our IPs are as diverse as our Split members. Each is coming to us looking for a unique match.
While some IPs are hoping to match with a Split member of a particular ethnicity, others are most interested in matching with someone with shared interests. Ultimately, IPs want to match with someone who they feel connected to as a person. That’s why our application tries to get at the heart of who you are from a variety of dimensions.
Tip #2: Share your motivation for joining Split
While your interest in egg freezing and egg donation may seem obvious to you, we want to be able to showcase that to our intended parents. They’re drawn to our unique model and love that all of our Split members are incredible, ambitious women who are motivated to preserve a portion of their reproductive future. And IPs are excited about empowering the next generation to own their family-building timelines.
As such, we encourage you to elaborate as much as possible on why you’re interested in the program. This includes why you want to freeze your eggs (Are you in grad school? Are you gunning for a promotion? Are you just not sure that you want to have kids?) and why you’re interested in donating. No detail is too small. Trust us when we say that it all comes together to paint a picture of why you make an incredible donor.
Tip #3: Play up your achievements
We get that it can feel uncomfortable to brag about yourself. But your Split application is one instance in which we want you to lay it all out. We — and our IPs — are continually in awe of how impressive our Split members are. From active community service volunteers to professional award winners, we want you to underscore your achievements. While you might be wondering why winning an award for your undergraduate thesis is relevant to an IP, remember that there may be a family on the other side of our matching platform searching for a Split member with a knack for writing.
Tip #4: Share photos (or videos!)
The photos you share also help IPs gain a better understanding of you throughout your lifetime. While you’ll want to submit some photos with a clear, head-on view, don’t be afraid to include pictures that showcase your hobbies or passions. Avid hiker? Let’s see you on your favorite trail! Proud dog mom? We want to see your little furball. If you’re waiting on your family to send you childhood photos, note that you can always submit your application without those and add them at a later date.
You also have the option of filming a video that will be visible to intended parents. This can showcase your personality, your interest in the program, and your hopes and wishes for the family who you ultimately match with. If you’re interested in submitting a video, let us know.
If you go this route, consider the following dos and don’ts:
- Explain why you’re interested in the Split program - why are you excited about freezing and donating eggs?
- Share a message with intended parents - what do you want them to know?
- Shoot the video horizontally
- Keep your video less than 4 minutes and in mp4 format
- Ensure your video is clear with good lighting. Natural light is best so if you can shoot near a window or in the shade outside, that’s ideal!
- If you have a phone tripod, consider using it for stability. Otherwise, propping your phone up on something else is okay!
- Use your last name or other identifying information
- Avoid filming in any loud or public places
Questions? Reach out
As you’re working through your application, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team with any questions. Our number one priority is ensuring you feel comfortable with the process. That, and helping you shine!
Disqualifications for Our Split Program
Our goal at Cofertility is to match intended parents with Split members who can help them achieve their goal of parenthood. Because of that, we want to make sure we’re upfront about what might disqualify someone from our Split program.
Through this program, you can freeze your eggs for free if you donate half to a family who can’t otherwise conceive. But, importantly, several factors may limit your eligibility. Some of these are official disqualifiers based on regulations by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Others are discretionary disqualifications based on recommendations by governing bodies like the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). Read on to get the full picture.
To apply to be a part of the Split Program, you must be between the ages of 21-33. This is because you’ll need to complete your retrieval before you turn 35, so because the process can take some time, we don’t accept applicants who are 34 or older.
The reason for this age limitation is because data shows that, on average, those over 35 tend not to respond to fertility medication as well and therefore may not produce as many eggs. Also, research shows that, unfortunately, egg quality declines with age. Various factors may affect your cycle timing (application paperwork, time to match with a family, and more) and you will need to cycle before you turn 35. We’d hate for someone to apply, get accepted, and then when the time comes for the cycle itself, potentially age out.
If you are 34-39, you are still eligible to participate in our Keep program. With this program, you can freeze your eggs and keep 100% of them for yourself.
If you are under 21 and you’d like to participate, please reach out and we’ll get back in touch after you turn 21.
As a preliminary step in the process, we’ll review several health-related factors.
For starters, you’ll need to have two ovaries and you cannot have taken a Depo Provera shot, which can interfere with hormonal medications, within the past 6 months.
Due to these hormonal medications you’ll need to take during egg freezing, you also cannot be currently pregnant or breastfeeding. However, if you plan to stop breastfeeding within the next six months, you can still go through with your Split application. You’d just need to hold off on your actual freezing cycle until then, and this situation would be communicated to potential match families.
Additionally, you’ll need to have a BMI of 18-29. Those outside of this range are at increased risk of complications, negative outcomes, and negative side effects from hormonal medications or an egg retrieval.
You will not qualify if you’ve had a sexually transmitted disease within the past 12 months (but can apply after 12 months of treatment). You also will be disqualified if you’ve been refused as a blood donor due to other infectious disease or medical conditions. Same goes if you’ve ever had a blood transfusion.
Finally, if you lived in Europe for over five years, or in England for over three months between 1980-1996, the FDA has determined that your risk of mad cow disease would also disqualify you.
Medical and family history
We will also review your and your family’s medical history. Unfortunately, this means that if you are adopted and cannot confirm your biological family’s medical history, you will not qualify.
If you were born with severe malformations such as a limb deficiency, a heart defect, or a cleft lip, this would result in disqualification. But if you have a relative with such a condition, doctors will consider this on a case-by-case basis. If you have a history of a medical condition requiring lifelong care, such as diabetes, epilepsy, heart abnormalities, or severe hearing or vision loss, a doctor would likely disqualify you.
There are also some psychological questions you’ll have to answer. We don’t expect you to be perfect. But note that certain psychological factors may be more likely to disqualify you than others.
For example, a history of physical, sexual or substance abuse or having family members with psychiatric disorders that could be passed down may make it more difficult to be approved than, for example, having had some mild depression or anxiety. Per ASRM guidance, we will exclude those with a personal or first-degree (parents, siblings, offspring) family history of:
- Bipolar disorder
- Schizoaffective disorder
- Severe depression
As part of the process, you’ll also be required to do genetic testing via blood test or saliva sample. This helps ensure that embryos resulting from your eggs will lead to a viable pregnancy and that a child won't be born with severe disease.
But even for serious diseases, not all disease-related genes are deal breakers. For example, if we find that you have a copy of a gene that can lead to cystic fibrosis, spinal muscular atrophy, or thalassemia, this may or may not disqualify you; it can depend on the clinic and genes of the intended parents.
In line with ASRM guidance, in most conditions where carrying one copy of a particular gene won't impact the child themselves, you can still qualify for the Split program.
In addition to genetic screening, you will have to undergo a physical screening to ensure you are physically healthy and producing a good number of eggs.
Some disqualifications here are set in stone by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If evidence of any of these conditions arises, you will be considered ineligible for the program. These are considered to be non-negotiable.
- Hepatitis B
- Hepatitis C
- Human transmissible spongiform encephalopathy
- Treponema pallidum
The following could also be deal breakers:
- Issues with your ovaries, such as having polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or only having one ovary
- Hormone levels outside of recommended limits with concerns about your ability to produce sufficient eggs
- Any issues that would make the egg freezing and donation process risky for your health
- Evidence that you are at high risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease or could already have one. Doctors will look for discharge or ulcerative lesions for this purpose
- Indicators of possible drug use (needle tracks, for example) or exposure to needles in non-sterile conditions—including recent piercings or tattoos within the past 12 months
Anti-Mullerian hormone (ovarian reserve) levels
As you likely know, women have a set egg quantity present at birth. Your eggs mature in ovarian follicles, and each of these follicles produces the anti-Mullerian hormone (AMH). Over time, this hormone level drops; eventually, it drops so low that women naturally develop what's known as a diminished ovarian reserve (DOR).
Your AMH level can help predict how well medication may work to stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs. It also tells doctors what dosage of drugs may be needed to do so. The higher the AMH level, the more eggs generally produced.
At Cofertility, if your AMH < 2, you are ineligible for our Split program. We only accept Split Members with these higher AMH levels as it helps mitigate the possibility of a second cycle to obtain enough eggs that could result in a live birth down the line (for yourself and for intended parents). Nevertheless, it’s important to note that, even with a high AMH level, there is always a chance that you need to do another cycle to improve the odds of a live birth. In the Split Program, once you are matched with intended parents, your physical screening will include AMH-reading bloodwork.
If you’d rather get a sense of your AMH ahead of matching, talk to us about helping you set up an initial egg freezing consultation at a local fertility clinic. While we don’t require it until later in the screening process, it can help you better understand your fertility outlook. We may offer discounted consult options in your area, and this could give you upfront peace of mind about your choice to pursue Split, Keep, or neither.
Some states do maintain their own requirements for women who are donating eggs. These requirements will extend to those in our Split program and would be determined by the location of the clinic at which you would be conducting the retrieval.
Any state-specific egg donation qualifications will be evaluated at the time of your physical examination.
Additional disqualifying factors
Lastly, there are a few additional factors that, unfortunately, would disqualify you from our Split program. These include if you:
- Have served jail time for more than two days
- Have undergone body piercing and/or tattooing within the past twelve months in which sterile procedures may not have been used
- Have the highest education level of GED
- Have Indigenous American ancestry and are associated with a tribe—this is due to the Indian Welfare Act
- Smoke cigarettes, since the ASRM has confirmed an association between smoking and decreased fertility
If one or more of the above applies to you and you’d still like to participate in our Split program, reach out to us. We’d be happy to chat with you about your fertility options, including your ability to re-apply in the future.
The net net
We know this sounds like a lot, but these disqualifiers are in place to respect the health and wellbeing of our Split members and intended parents. If you have any questions about Split—including the factors outlined here—don’t hesitate to connect with us.
You have tons to offer, and whether you qualify for the Split program is in no way reflective of your value. The most important thing is that you feel one hundred percent comfortable in any decision you make. This is a big one, and we’re with you every step of the way.
Disclosed vs. Undisclosed Egg Donation: How Should I Choose?
If you’re applying for our Split program, where you’ll give a portion of your eggs to a family that cannot conceive otherwise, you may be wondering how much the intended parents (IPs) and any donor-conceived children will know about you—and vice versa. We know this is a big deal and we want to give you as much information as possible to help you make the best decision for you.
Disclosed vs. undisclosed relationships
In a disclosed relationship, you exchange contact information and can communicate directly. The scope and degree of communication (both during and post-match) is what both parties make of it.
In an undisclosed relationship, you do not exchange contact information and only communicate through Cofertility.
Does undisclosed mean anonymous?
To put it bluntly, it is impossible to guarantee true anonymity in egg donation. With widely available genetic tests and more state laws giving donor-conceived children access to information about their donors, it’s increasingly likely that identity and shared genetics may be discovered.
At Freeze by Co, we want to honor the perspectives of all parties involved in the family-building process. This includes Split members, intended parents, and especially any future donor-conceived children. Given research on the benefits of parents being open with their children about being donor-conceived, we encourage intended parents (through our Family by Co platform) to be open to their children about their conception story.
If the eggs you give lead to a child (and we hope that they do!), that donor-conceived child may eventually want to reach out with their own questions. We want to be upfront that this could happen, even if you opt for an undisclosed match.
What do these relationships look like in practice?
Every relationship is unique and depends on the desires of the Split member, intended parents, and what’s best for any future donor-conceived children. They can range from regular communication to a single notification when the donor-conceived child is born. While this list is by no means exhaustive, we wanted to paint a picture of how these relationships may play out:
Disclosed relationships may include:
- Receiving an annual holiday card from the intended family
- Communicating with either the parents and/or donor conceived children around milestone events, like first steps up to graduations
- Speaking directly with the donor conceived child once he/she reaches a particular age
- Simply keeping communication lines open if an issue or need arises.
Conversely, an undisclosed relationship may include:
- Receiving a photo of the baby when he/she is born
- Communicating via Cofertility to share a meaningful update like first words
Note that if a donor-conceived child experiences a serious medical condition, you may be asked to provide supplemental medical information to help the family navigate the situation. Also, if new information comes up about your own medical history, we ask you to let us know so that any relevant information can be shared with the family. This is the case regardless of your relationship status.
If I have kids now or in the future, do I have to share this with them?
If you have children in the future, we encourage you to share this information with them. You may decide to wait until your children reach a particular age or you may ask the IPs to let you know when they share their own child’s conception story so that you can do the same.
As mentioned earlier, with the advent of consumer-facing genetic testing companies like 23andMe, it is also possible that your children could be contacted by donor-conceived children in the future. As such, you may prefer to share this information on your own terms. Whether that is five, ten, or fifteen years from now — we’ll provide you with resources to support that conversation.
Egg donation is a beautiful way to build a family and not something anyone involved should be ashamed of. Research shows that normalizing egg donation with children at an early age is best. This is true for parents who raise the child, as well as the egg donor who made it possible.
What are my options with Split?
As part of the Split program application, you’ll be given the opportunity to indicate your preference for a disclosed or undisclosed relationship. You can also indicate openness to both. This information will also be shared on your profile so that you will only be matched with IPs who are aligned on the desired relationship type.
If you still have questions about the spectrum of relationship options, reach out! We’re here to help you navigate it all, and we find that Split members are often open to a wide range of options after getting to know the family they are helping.
If you’re applying for our Split program, we know you have a lot to consider. Our goal is to build families, but we aim to do so in a way that honors all parties involved. If you have any questions about our policies or thoughts around disclosure or want to talk through your personal situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Are There Any Risks Associated with Egg Donation?
Worries about egg donation risks can hold you back from joining our Split Program, in which you can freeze your eggs for free in exchange for donating half to people who need help growing their families. But just how risky is egg donation? Are the rewards of helping grow a family enough to outweigh them?
Here’s what the science says about the risks along with our take on some potential benefits.
Egg donation risks
Overall, egg donation is considered a low-risk procedure and there are a number of steps along the way designed to ensure your safety. A 2017 Fertility and Sterility research study looked at more than 23,000 egg retrieval procedures performed on women in hospitals and fertility centers. Overall, the study found an overall complication rate of just 0.4%.
The first stage of the process is a series of screenings to make sure you are prepared for what lies ahead. You’ll undergo a general interview, blood testing, and a psychological assessment to make sure you are physically and mentally up for everything that egg donation entails. Importantly, these screenings help flag potential issues early, and mitigate any larger risks.
The greatest risks exist for those who have pre-existing health conditions that put them in a higher risk category, these women are unlikely to pass the initial screening process.
For those who are deemed healthy and ready for donation, the largest risks then lie in the egg production and egg retrieval phases of donation.
Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
Just like the process for freezing your eggs, you will be prescribed injectable hormone medications to stimulate the ovaries to produce more eggs. This carries some risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). OHSS is a condition in which the ovaries condition in which the ovaries can swell and fluid leaks into the abdomen, causing pain and discomfort.
Cases of OHSS are rare, occurring in less than 5 percent of women who use these medications. The symptoms are typically mild, causing bloating, nausea, and general discomfort that will go away one to two weeks after your egg retrieval procedure. OHSS cases that require medical attention occur in about 0.1% to 2% percent of women.
Once you’ve produced enough eggs, you’ll undergo a retrieval process at the fertility clinic. This process is outpatient, meaning you can go home that day, and typically only takes about half an hour.
You’ll be under anesthesia for the procedure so it is worth noting that anesthesia does carry risks such as nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, and allergic reactions. However, risks of major complications from anesthesia are rare, with just 1.1 per million each year across all types of procedures. If you have a history of nausea from anesthesia, talk to your doctor about it beforehand.
Egg retrieval complications
During the egg retrieval process, a fertility specialist will use a thin needle to aspirate eggs from your ovaries. This does come with risk of bleeding, infection or injury to something nearby – such as the bladder or bowels. If this were to occur, surgery may be required to correct the problem. But, as previously mentioned, only 0.4% of women encounter complications during this part of the egg donation process and just 0.29% percent require surgery due to those complications.
More common after egg retrieval is some spotting and discomfort, both of which are temporary. Many women return to work the day after an egg retrieval, although some take a few days to recover.
Will donating eggs affect future fertility?
One common question that potential Split members ask is whether there’s a risk that donating eggs will affect their future fertility. The answer is a solid no.
Not only will donating eggs not affect your chances of getting pregnant naturally in the future, it also won’t lower your ovarian reserve (number of eggs in your ovaries). The eggs retrieved in an egg donation cycle are eggs that would have been lost that month naturally.
As part of our Split program, members donate half of the eggs that they produce during a cycle and keep the other half for themselves — freezing them to use at a later date. The cost of storage is also covered for 10 years.
Other common egg donation concerns
As you consider the Split program, you may have some other non-medical concerns. It's important to think through them before deciding to join the Split program.
Wanting to remain anonymous
How much identifying information you want to share is ultimately up to you, however the advent of DNA testing from companies like 23AndMe and Ancestry.com has made it impossible to guarantee true long-term anonymity. It’s best to make any decisions about donating your eggs with this in mind.
Wanting to know potential donor-conceived children
On the flip side, you may be curious about potential offspring and want to have a window into their world as they grow up. Split members are given the chance to build a plan with intended parents that is comfortable for both parties and ultimately honor and respect the donor-conceived child. That plan can vary from just a holiday card update to regular communication — it really is unique to the parties involved.
Egg donation benefits
The CDC estimates a fifth of women encounter infertility every year and egg donation is a true gift to many families.
If you’re weighing the risks against the benefits, the satisfaction of helping someone else grow their family can be incredibly powerful. As a Split Member, you’ll also have the added benefit of free health screenings and a chance to talk to fertility experts about your own fertility planning.
Lastly, if you choose to donate eggs through Cofertility, you will also be able to keep half of the eggs produced during your cycle, giving you a jumpstart on your future reproductive planning.
Although overall risks of egg donation are low, there’s a lot to think about. It’s important to consider it all and to talk open and honestly with the fertility experts at your disposal.
Making the decision to donate eggs can be a powerful and fulfilling experience. Still, it should only be something you do because you feel comfortable with the process and potential long-term implications. We’d love to be a resource as you consider this process - feel free to reach out with any questions or concerns along the way.