What Kind of Families You Help When You Donate Your Eggs With Cofertility?
So, you’re considering freezing and donating your eggs with Cofertility. This is exciting! Donating a portion of your eggs to another family who needs them in order to have children is an incredible decision. But it’s certainly not one to be taken lightly, so you’re doing the right thing by researching the process and considering all factors (and perspectives) involved.
One of the most important aspects of egg donation is having a clear understanding of what happens to your eggs once donated, and what kinds of families you’ll help. Here, we outline several types of families that you may help when you choose to participate in our Split program.
How does the Split program work?
Cofertility was founded on the principles of making egg freezing more accessible and empowering, while also helping grow families via egg donation. With our Split program, those who qualify are able to freeze their eggs completely for free (including up to 10 years of frozen egg storage!) when they donate half of the eggs retrieved to another family who can’t conceive. We consider our unique model a win for everyone involved, and a more human approach to egg donation.
Through the Cofertility Split program, once you’ve qualified, signed your program agreement, and undergone initial fertility testing, your profile will become available to match with intended parents on our Family by Co platform. These intended parents will be able to view your profile and hopefully connect with you, your values, and your motivations for donating a portion of your eggs — in which case, they’ll move forward with a match!
What is “egg sharing,” anyway?
Once you have matched with intended parents and undergone some additional screening for clearance purposes and industry guideline compliance, you’ll kick off your egg freezing cycle. Within this cycle, you’ll take 10-14 days of injectable medication that will stimulate your ovaries to mature as many eggs as possible. When the eggs have reached peak maturity, you will undergo a retrieval procedure under light anesthesia where the doctor will use a vaginal ultrasound to remove the eggs.
As part of our egg sharing model, once their eggs are retrieved, our Split members will have half of those eggs immediately frozen and stored for free for up to 10 years (they can be removed from storage any time). The other half of the retrieved eggs will go to the intended parents and can be fertilized with their sperm of choice. If an odd number of mature eggs is retrieved, the additional mature egg will go to the intended parents.
Types of families you help when donating eggs with Cofertility
There are many types of intended parents who require egg donation in order to conceive and grow their families.
As the world has become more tolerant of diverse sexual identity and orientation, so too has it become more tolerant of the evolution of what a “family” looks like. For LGBTQ+ families, this acceptance has been incredibly meaningful in being able to live and grow their families freely. According to 2021 U.S. Census Bureau data, there are 1.2 million same-sex couple households in the US, and about 15% of these couples have children.
For gay dads in particular, egg donation plays a vital role in providing the ability for them to have biological children. Eggs shared via donation can be fertilized with sperm from one of the intended fathers, with a subsequent pregnancy carried via gestational carrier. Remember, children of gay dads don’t happen by accident; they are the result of lots of effort, motivation, and desire to become fathers. We’re proud to support this growing population of parents.
People struggling with infertility
Did you know that, according to the World Health Organization, 1 in 6 people worldwide face some sort of fertility challenge? With 1 in 4 pregnancies ending in a loss and 12% of women experiencing difficulties becoming pregnant or carrying a child to term, the prevalence of infertility has increased over time.
This not only indicates why the best time to freeze your eggs is now (like, right now), it also provides some context as to how (and why) some people may eventually decide to pursue egg donation. It may provide their only option for conception, or perhaps their timeline doesn’t allow trial-and-error of other fertility treatments and they’d like to save themselves the heartache and financial strain of pursuing other options. These intended parents are always incredibly grateful for help from egg donors in growing their families, because it often comes at the end of a long, winding road that involves lots of disappointment and false starts. Growing their family via egg donation is often filled with lots of hope.
Sadly, when a woman undergoes medical treatment as part of a cancer-fighting protocol, this can impact her fertility and family-building options down the line. And unfortunately, only in recent years have fertility preservation options become part of the standard conversation that cancer patients in their fertile years have with their doctors. Even today, this is something many cancer patients with ovaries may need to proactively bring up to protect their options for the future.
As a result, many female cancer patients have undergone treatment that, while lifesaving, has caused various forms of infertility. This may be due to resulting hormonal changes, or damage to eggs, ovaries, or uterus. In cases where these hopeful moms cannot use their own eggs to conceive, they need the help of an egg donor to create embryos that they themselves or a gestational carrier may carry.
Single dads by choice
At Cofertility, we support all types of families — and we pride ourselves on the fact that more than 10% of our intended parents are single men, regardless of sexuality. These intended parents have decided to pursue fatherhood on their own, but will need the help of an egg donor as well as gestational carrier in order to make that happen. To us, any person pursuing the option of taking on sole responsibility for a child is someone who really wants (and deserves) to be a parent. And they’re forever grateful to everyone who can help make that dream come true.
How to get started
If you’d like to move forward with participating in Cofertility’s Split program, where you can freeze your eggs for free when you donate half of the eggs retrieved to another family who can’t conceive, fill out this quick quiz to learn more about your options and see if you qualify. It only takes one minute!
What Happens During Psychological Screening to Become an Egg Donor?
As a fertility psychologist with training and education in third-party reproduction and 10+ years of experience screening egg donors, I wanted to share a little more about the rigorous psychological evaluation that takes place for potential egg donors.
Whether you are someone who is thinking about donating your eggs or someone pursuing donor egg IVF, this article is for you. Understanding the process and its importance can ensure a smooth and ethical egg donation process.
What is screening like for a potential egg donor?
Psychological screening of a potential egg donor starts with the initial application. This application digs deep into the donor’s physical, medical, and emotional history. It also digs deep into her first and second degree. The reason we need to look into family history is because certain disorders are heritable and the receiving parties need to know and fully understand a donor's complete medical picture before deciding to move forward with her.
Once a donor matches with a family, she then undergoes a psychological evaluation with a fertility psychologist. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has set forth guidelines for Psychologists to follow when assessing potential egg donors. These guidelines are a way to ensure informed consent, to ascertain that she does not have any psychological contraindications to donating, and that she will be able to be committed and fulfill her responsibilities for the cycle.
The evaluation is an interview which will review many of the things found in the application but will delve deeper. For example, the interview will include, but is not limited to, conversations about family, work, education, medical, and psychological history. Potential emotional and social risks, understanding disclosed vs. undisclosed relationships will also be discussed. The evaluation will also include a standardized, empirically-validated test designed for the assessment and/or screening of mental and behavioral disorders. Typically, these are conducted on the same day and can be done in-persons or through a telehealth consultation.
Why would someone fail a psychological screening?
Unfortunately, not everyone is suitable for egg donation, and a psychological evaluation can make this apparent. When someone does not clear psychological screening, it can lead to disappointment for the family and woman alike.
But, psychological screening of an egg donor comes down to ethical responsibility. We need to ensure the donor’s psychological stability, informed consent, and emotional readiness which includes her understanding of the short and long term consequences of the donation process.
Further, as a clinician my job does not only include the potential donor and her well-being. It also includes the recipient family, which also includes the future human(s) that will result from the donation. This donation isn’t just a one and done type of deal. So psychological screening is not just a formality, it is a necessity.
What if I’ve donated my eggs before? Do I have to go through psychological screening again?
Things change. Life happens. Who you were and what you were doing during a previous donation cycle may no longer be the same. So just because you have successfully donated before does not always mean that you will be eligible to donate again. If you are wanting to donate again, I want to know why you want to do this again? I want to know what has changed since your last donation. You will once again complete a full clinical interview along with the standardized assessment. For donors who undergo additional cycles, ASRM recommends that a new full evaluation be conducted if more than 24 months have elapsed since the previous evaluation.
Summing it up
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has clear guidelines for who is and is not eligible to donate. These guidelines are there to protect everyone involved. Remember, you are creating an entire new branch of a family tree using your DNA. So it is important that no stone is left unturned. As a therapist, our job is to ensure informed consent (meaning, prospective donors fully understand the process); that the assessment is fair regardless of race, gender, or socio-economic status; and to protect personal and sensitive information as we will be asking for a lot of personal information.
A psychologically prepared donor is essential for successful egg donation. So it is important to do your research. Understand the process and ask a lot of questions.
Egg donation with Cofertility
At Cofertility, we are striving to be the best place to be an egg donor (or what we call, a Split Member). We offer a supportive and transparent process that empowers donors to make informed decisions about their egg donation journey.
With our innovative approach, donors get to keep half of the eggs retrieved, plus:
- Free storage of their own eggs in cryopreservation for up to 10 years
- Coverage of all medical costs for the egg donation process
- Connection to the Cofertility community for support all along the way and after too
- The ability to work with the intended parents to decide together what your relationship will look like
If giving your eggs to intended parents sounds like something you would like to do, you may be able to qualify for the free egg freezing process and have your donation process covered too.
Find out more about Cofertility, and take our quiz to see if you qualify for Split!
We believe that every donor deserves to have a positive and empowering experience, and we are committed to making that a reality. That’s why Cofertility was named one of the Best Egg Donor Programs by Egg Donor Connect.
Advocating For Yourself During Your Egg Freezing Journey
Freezing your eggs (as part of our Split program, or otherwise) is likely one of the most complex medical procedures you have gone through. At Cofertility, you’ll have one of our Member Advocates to support you through this process. But you’ll want to become your own advocate too. After all, when it comes to your body, you are your own best spokesperson.
Here are some tips for advocating for yourself during the egg freezing journey:
Establish a dialogue rather than a monologue
Healthcare should be a dialogue. If you don't understand a term or procedure, ask for clarification. If you’re uncertain about how to administer a medication, ask for a demonstration or tutorial. Research shows that effective communication between healthcare providers and patients significantly improves health outcomes.
Take notes and reflect
A considerable amount of information will be shared during your appointments. Taking notes helps you digest this information later, allowing you to make well-informed decisions. It is especially helpful to write down key takeaways from your meeting with your doctor after your AFC ultrasound and AMH blood test, the doctor will give you signal on the protocol they want to follow for you. It can also empower you to hold more meaningful follow-up discussions with your healthcare provider.
Personalize your journey
Each person's egg freezing experience is unique. Don’t hesitate to ask how the general advice you’re receiving applies specifically to you. Contextualizing generic medical advice ensures that your individual needs and conditions are being considered.
Ensure that every healthcare professional you interact with during your egg freezing journey is aware of your goals and treatment plan. Remind them of your preferences, previous monitoring results and any specific concerns you may have. Any time you are interacting with a new person on your care team, remind them of the plan and protocol you have already discussed with the doctor. One the day of your procedure, make sure the embryologist’s team confirms your plan.
Share any updates from the clinic with your Member Advocate so that the Cofertility team can follow your progress closely. Many clinics use an app or portal to communicate directly with just you so it helps to give as much visibility to your Member Advocate as you’re are comfortable with for us to help you with this process.
Seek out community
Medical journeys can be daunting solo endeavors. Seeking community support and shared experiences can not only be emotionally uplifting but also practically insightful. When you freeze your eggs with Cofertility, you get access to our online community of women freezing their eggs at the same time.
Never settle for incomplete information. If you feel something has not been adequately explained, press for more details. Your healthcare provider should be willing to take the time to make sure you fully understand your own medical trajectory. Request a thorough explanation of your fertility testing results, including hormone levels, ovarian reserve, and any potential concerns. Ensure you fully understand what the numbers mean and how they relate to your fertility potential.
Advocating for yourself does not mean challenging the medical establishment but rather engaging with it as an informed and empowered partner. The onus is not solely on the fertility doctor to chart the course of your care; it is a collaborative journey. Equip yourself with the right questions and an assertive mindset as you prepare.
Questions to ask at each stage of egg freezing
You’ll want to be prepared to have savvy, informed dialogues with your egg freezing clinical team. We’ve got you covered! Below are questions you can use to prepare yourself for these important appointments.
The preliminaries: medical background and likely outcomes
It all starts with a comprehensive assessment of your reproductive health. At some point in your journey, you will undergo a fertility assessment including hormone tests (specifically an Anti-Müllerian Hormone, or AMH, test) and an antral follicle count (AFC). These will offer insights into your ovarian reserve.
Questions to ask when you get these results:
- Based on my test results, my age, and my medical history, how many eggs do you expect to retrieve?
- Could any of my pre-existing health conditions affect the procedure? It's important to discuss how conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or endometriosis might affect the process.
- How many cycles would you suggest I undergo?
- How many follicles do you see? (ask this during your ultrasound)
Read more about questions you should ask at your first egg freezing consultation.
The logistics: planning the procedure
Once you’ve decided to move forward with freezing your eggs, you’ll want to understand more of the logistical details. Your Cofertility advocate will help you navigate your journey, including coordinating timeline and long-term storage of your eggs.
Questions at this stage may include:
- What is the timeline? Understanding the timeframe—from hormonal injections to egg retrieval—helps you plan life around the procedure.
- In case of questions or emergencies, what is the best way to get in contact with my care team or physician?
- How many times should I expect to come to the clinic for ultrasounds or bloodwork?
- Can I see where the egg retrievals take place? This is usually a quick, outpatient procedure, but it’s important to know what to expect.
- Where and how are my eggs stored? Your eggs will likely be frozen using vitrification, but it’s good to understand the storage facility's safety measures.
- Ask your clinic if they have written documentation or can show you your treatment plan at the start of your cycle and prior to your retrieval
- Ask them to confirm your medication dose
- Ask them to confirm your lab plan and confirm it is noted as a Split Cycle where you are keeping half of the eggs retrieved
The process: hormones, retrieval, and storage
There are a lot of nuances to egg freezing, and each patient gets a personalized medication regimen based on how the fertility doctor thinks the ovaries will respond.
- What medication protocol are you thinking of for me? The hormone injection phase usually lasts about 10 to 12 days, but the type and amounts of hormones will be personalized to you.
- Will you take me off, or put me on birth control before the cycle starts?
- Do I need to stop any of my medications? If so, when and for how long?
- Do you suggest that I start (or stop) any supplements?
- What other lifestyle modifications should I consider making?
- Ask your nurse to send you a list of do’s and don’ts post procedure
- What average size have my follicles grown to? Is that the size you would expect at this day of my cycle? (It helps to ask your doctor this after your ultrasounds, especially day 5+ so that you can track a key signal your doctor is monitoring to determine the timing of your trigger shot, which determines the day of your retrieval. Overall, follicles of 16–22 mm on the day of retrieval are more likely to contain mature eggs than smaller follicles).
Partner with your Cofertility Member Advocate
You interact with a lot of people on the course of your egg freezing journey, but you are the only person who is in every single conversation. It is incredibly worthwhile, but it can be a lot to track - that is why your Cofertility Member Advocate plays the role of big sister and project manager to:
- Keep you informed on the process through articles, events, and 1-1 connections
- Share evidence-based research and trustworthy guidance so you can make informed decisions about your fertility
- Liaise between your clinic and other other third parties (e.g., genetic counselors)
- Provide weekly status updates on your journey to keep you informed about progress and potential hurdles
- Schedule your travel (if necessary)
We are your advocates throughout this process and will work with you every step of the way.
As you set forth on your egg freezing journey, the questions outlined in this article can serve as your navigational tools—tools that can help you make educated decisions that are unique to your circumstances and aspirations. As mentioned, your fertility doctor (and if you work with Cofertility, your Member Advocate) are invaluable resources committed to your care, but it's vital to remember that you, too, are an essential part of the team. Your body, your eggs, your future—they are landscapes that only you can fully understand and appreciate.
So prepare to engage in those savvy, informed dialogues with your clinical team. Come armed with your inquiries, your curiosities, and your legitimate concerns. Consider this not just a journey to freeze your eggs, but also an odyssey that crystallizes your autonomy, amplifies your voice, and quite possibly, defines your future. Take those steps with the kind of assurance that only comes from being well-prepared and well-informed. After all, knowledge isn't just power—it's empowerment. And in the delicate, often uncharted territories of reproductive health, empowerment is your true North Star.
What’s the Deal with Acupuncture and Egg Freezing?
If you’re considering freezing your eggs, you’re probably open to trying just about anything to make your cycle as successful as possible. You’re doing all the things: taking supplements, eating a healthy diet, and being mindful of your lifestyle choices. When it comes to acupuncture, though, you may have heard mixed advice. Can acupuncture really help improve egg freezing outcomes? Let’s find out.
What exactly is acupuncture, anyway?
Acupuncture is a medical treatment based on the disciplines of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It’s built on the theory that there are channels that flow through the body, kind of like the circulatory system.
When someone goes in for an acupuncture treatment, the practitioner inserts teeny-tiny, stainless steel, disposable needles into the patient’s body at specific points along those channels (typically between eight and twelve points, but sometimes up to twenty). Different points are used depending on any symptoms you might be experiencing — back aches, anxiety, acid reflux...you name it! — and practitioners view the body as totally interconnected. It is considered to be generally painless.
What does acupuncture (supposedly) do?
The goal of acupuncture is to regulate each of your systems to get them to work optimally and in harmony with each other. For example, a 2002 Fertility and Sterility study published by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) indicated that receiving regular acupuncture treatments can regulate patients’ endocrine systems (where sex, mood, and sleep hormones are manufactured).
Regulating your endocrine system via acupuncture can dial down your stress response, which may be heightened during an egg freezing cycle. But the question remains, will decreased stress translate to improvement in actual egg freezing cycle outcomes, in terms of quantity and quality of eggs?
Egg freezing and acupuncture: what the data says
Remember: beta endorphin levels regulate and balance a woman’s Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) levels, which do impact the ability of her ovaries to grow and mature eggs. So when we see a 1998 Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine study demonstrate dramatically increased beta endorphins among those who received acupuncture vs. those who hadn’t, that’s worth noting.
But by and large, when it comes to acupuncture and egg freezing, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. The vast majority of available studies focus primarily on IVF success measures: embryo fertilization, positive pregnancy results, and live births. While embryo fertilization is the primary indicator of egg quality, (though many other factors also contribute to fertilization), only looking at acupuncture’s relationship with IVF outcomes can be problematic, because we are viewing a limited population who already may have fertility challenges.
Some studies have explored the potential influence of acupuncture on the number of eggs retrieved during ovarian stimulation, the egg freezing phase during which a patient takes injectable hormone medications to stimulate her ovaries to mature more eggs for retrieval and freezing. This is helpful for us to explore, but it’s important to note if those studies are only looking at a population who needs to undergo IVF to conceive, as this is different from the population of those looking to electively freeze their eggs.
All of this being said, there is some data out there that’s worth investigating.
Stress and fertility
In some cases, we may be able to triangulate studies about acupuncture’s impact upon stress and anxiety with studies about the impact of stress upon egg retrieval outcomes. But we need to acknowledge that these are assumptions and hypotheses, taking a transitive property into account rather than studying the direct impact of acupuncture upon egg retrieval outcomes.
Even then, when only looking at the impact of stress upon fertility and egg retrieval outcomes (largely related to egg quantity), the data is mixed:
- A 2011 British Medical Journal study noted that “pretreatment emotional distress was NOT associated with treatment outcome” (in this case, it’s important to consider that “outcome” = successful pregnancy and live birth using eggs from that treatment cycle).
- A 2009 Psychological Reports article showed a significant correlation between depression and number of eggs retrieved, with fewer eggs retrieved associated with higher instances of depression.
- A 2001 Fertility and Sterility article stated that “baseline (acute and chronic) stress affected biologic endpoints (i.e., number of oocytes retrieved and fertilized).”
- A 2015 General and Comparative Endocrinology study concluded that increased cortisol levels may cause anovulation in stressed mice.
- A 2016 Journal of Biomedical Science study showed that increased cortisol and oxidative stress levels affect our granulosa cell functions, possibly by inducing apoptosis — which results in changes to our estradiol hormones and egg growth, development, and quality.
Some more direct evidence
While there is lots of (mixed) data out there about the relationship between stress and fertility, and some data about how acupuncture reduces stress, there are a handful of studies that actually look directly at the correlation between acupuncture treatments, number of eggs retrieved, and potential egg quality conclusions based on fertilization and live birth outcomes. It’s important to remember that quantity does not necessarily translate directly to quality. Meaning, there is a chance you could have many eggs and very few (or even zero) could result in a fertilized embryo or pregnancy. The general principle is, the more eggs you retrieve, the greater chances you’ll have of having enough high quality eggs for future use.
One of the more applicable studies is a 2023 Frontiers in Endocrinology meta-analysis, which looked at seven clinical randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that ultimately included 516 women. Although the quality of those studies may have been questionable, this meta-analysis showed that the use of acupuncture increased the number of eggs retrieved and the antral follicle count, while improving the patients’ estradiol and FSH levels. However, there was no difference in fertilization rate or pregnancy rate. This analysis suggests that acupuncture does not improve the ultimate outcome most egg freezers care about: chances of a healthy baby down the line.
On the flip side, a 2006 Fertility and Sterility study of 273 women in Denmark showed no statistical difference in the number of eggs retrieved between those who received acupuncture and those who did not. For what it’s worth, this study did, however, show a substantial improvement in pregnancy and live birth rates among those who received acupuncture on the day of their embryo transfer.
What to expect at your acupuncture appointment
If you’ve decided to move forward with acupuncture, you’ll first need to find a local practitioner. At your first treatment, your acupuncturist will ask you tons of questions about your medical history, just like any Western doctor would. Then they’ll take your pulse and look at your tongue (seriously).
Here’s what they’re looking for: patterns of disharmony, which may be missed by your regular doctor because they don’t show up as illnesses. Let’s say you have trouble sleeping and you feel anxious and your skin is dry and your hair is falling out. In Chinese medicine, that grouping of symptoms together indicates a “blood deficiency.” It wouldn’t be severe enough for your main doctor to call it anemia, but there may be enough symptoms to show some imbalance is going on in your body. With that information, your acupuncturist can determine where to insert the needles to best address your individual needs.
When it’s time for your treatment, you may be asked to undress and put on a gown or cover yourself with a sheet and lay down or face up on a table, like you’re getting ready for a facial. The practitioner will then reenter the room and begin “tapping” the needles into the points they’ve selected specifically for your needs.
The insertion of the needles doesn’t usually hurt — maybe just a pinch — but it shouldn’t stay painful because the needles are as fine as a strand of hair. If you’re not comfortable, just let your practitioner know and he/she will make an adjustment. Comfort is key. Once all the needles are in, the acupuncturist will leave the room (ideally turning on some music or relaxing white noise) and you’ll rest there on the table for about 30 minutes. You may fall asleep right away, or you may need a couple of sessions to get used to it.
To experience the full desired effects of acupuncture, some practitioners say it could take about 3 months of weekly treatments. Think of it this way: it takes about 100 days for red blood cells or sperm to mature, so according to acupuncturists, if you want acupuncture to make changes in your body’s functioning, you’ll want to give it the time it naturally needs. At the very least, you should leave your treatment feeling like you just got a really good night’s rest.
The TLDR on acupuncture and egg freezing
There’s so much more research to be done regarding the relationship between acupuncture and egg freezing outcomes. But, based on the scouring we’ve done through existing studies, there does not appear to be evidence that acupuncture could directly help your egg freezing experience. Acupuncture cannot influence structural issues, like fallopian tube blockages, for example.
But while it may not help you retrieve more eggs or increase your chances of pregnancy down the line, it may be something you want to do purely for relaxation. You can think about it like a massage or day at the spa.
With that in mind, the only nuisances may be appointment scheduling or dealing with insurance to see what’s covered. But, beyond that — the goal of acupuncture is to make your mind and body feel good. So, if you have the time and willingness to pay, we support that! In my case, I’m incredibly lucky; my insurance covers unlimited acupuncture visits throughout the year, including for pain or anxiety (note: I do not believe fertility is a billable reason for my acupuncture coverage). If you’re interested in pursuing acupuncture, it is definitely worth having a conversation with your acupuncture clinic and with your insurance provider. But if you can’t squeeze it in or justify the cost…please do not worry about it. You’ve got enough going on as it is.
Remember, when freezing your eggs with Freeze by Co, our team of medical experts (plus our free member community of others freezing their eggs, just like you!) will be with you every step of the way to answer questions like this and more. Our Split program even offers those ages 21-33 the chance to freeze their eggs for free! With 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 or not interested in donating half of the eggs retrieved, you can still participate in our Keep program up to age 40. With Keep, you can freeze your eggs and keep them all for yourself, on your timeline while having access to valuable community support.
Regardless of which path you choose, our team is here to guide you through the process to keep your family-building options on the table.
Your Egg Freezing Care Team
When you're freezing your eggs, it can feel like you're navigating a maze of unfamiliar terms and unfamiliar people. Who are all these people? What do they do? And when should you see them?
Here, we'll break down the different members of your fertility team and what services they provide, to help you understand who you'll be working with on your egg freezing journey.
Your Primary Care Physician (PCP)
For some, the dialogue about fertility begins with a conversation with their Primary Care Physician (PCP). This medical generalist can provide an overview of the fertility landscape and may guide you towards specialized care if your situation calls for it.
As a specialist in women's reproductive health, an Obstetrician-Gynecologist (OBGYN) can offer nuanced insight into fertility and hormonal health. Although not directly involved in the egg freezing process, their counsel is often a valuable stepping stone to more specialized care.
Reproductive Endocrinologist (REI)
An OBGYN with additional training in reproductive endocrinology, your REI is the main person overseeing your egg freezing journey. Specializing in the hormonal and medical intricacies of fertility, they oversee and perform the egg retrieval process. Many people start their egg freezing/donation journeys with an REI consultation.
An RN serving as a lynchpin in patient care, the Nurse Coordinator organizes patient education, scheduling, and medication management. Their role varies by clinic but invariably serves to harmonize the efforts of the entire fertility team.
The Embryologist also works at the fertility clinic and is the scientist who helps fertilize and grow your embryos! They are in charge of making sure your eggs get safely frozen.
Egg Freezing Agency, such as Cofertility
For those seeking an additional layer of service and support, Cofertility helps streamline your journey. We help you find a clinic, connect with others freezing their eggs at the same time, and fill the gaps not covered by a standard fertility clinic.
Navigating the costs of egg freezing can be daunting. A Financial Counselor specializes in demystifying this aspect, helping you explore insurance coverage and financing options.
Responsible for the logistical challenge of safely transporting your frozen eggs, the Fertility Courier is a specialized service provider you may never meet but will trust implicitly.
A cryostorage facility serves as the vault for your frozen tissue. Specializing in the preservation of biological material, these facilities are where your eggs will reside until you decide to use them. We have a partnership with TMRW where we have negotiated discounted rates for our members.
Being a carrier doesn't mean you have the condition, but it can still be concerning when your genetic testing reveals you have a genetic predispositions to certain conditions. Your genetic counselor helps you understand the implications of your carrier status. They can explain the risks, potential impacts on future children, and provide guidance on family planning.
Third-party reproductive (TPR) care coordinator
A clinic employee who works in the field of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and reproductive medicine. Their primary role is to facilitate and coordinate various aspects of third-party reproduction, which involves using donated eggs, sperm, or embryos, as well as gestational surrogacy.
If you participate in our Split program, there are even more people you will work with along the way
Our Split program offers women a chance to freeze their eggs for free when donating half of the eggs retrieved to a family who cannot otherwise conceive. If you qualify for the program and decide to donate half of your retrieved eggs, every expense associated with the egg freezing procedure — medications, supplements, travel if necessary, insurance, and 10 years of storage — are completely free of charge. We don’t even need a payment or credit card up front, as the family you match with covers all the expenses.
At Cofertility, the Member Advocate serves as your personalized concierge, easing communication among all the parties above and ensuring a smooth journey from start to finish. A Member Advocate plays a crucial role in supporting you through the complex and highly regulated process of egg freezing and donation, helping you navigate the medical, emotional, and logistical aspects of preserving your fertility with compassion, evidence-based research and trustworthy guidance.
Emotional support is invaluable. We have a Fertility Psychologist on our team to support the psychological and emotional aspects of your journey, offering screening and therapeutic support.
Third-party Reproduction Lawyer
When you match with a family, you will work with a Fertility Lawyer to ensure that all agreements, from donor agreements to future use contracts, are conducted within the bounds of the law. We can help you find a lawyer with expertise in this space, which is entirely free to you.
It's important to note that not everyone needs the same team or the same services. Your path will be as unique as you are; tailored to meet your specific needs and circumstances. Never hesitate to ask questions or advocate for yourself; after all, this is your journey, and you deserve a team that not only supports but champions your reproductive goals. The most important person on your fertility team is you.
At Cofertility, we have a preferred network of partners across the country that can help with every aspect of your egg donation journey, from the legal contracts to the embryo storage. While reading this list can feel overwhelming, if you work with us, know that we can handle most every interaction.
Do I Need to Stop Taking My Antidepressant to Freeze My Eggs?
The number of people choosing to freeze their eggs has been rising steadily for the past several years. At the same time, antidepressant use in the US has also been on the rise, especially during and after the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It goes without saying that given both these trends, many of the people who are freezing their eggs are also people who struggle with mental health conditions. If you’re on any medications for your mental health and you’re considering freezing or donating your eggs, you may be wondering if you’ll need to stop your antidepressant during the process. This is a common question and we’ll be answering it in today’s article so read on to find out.
What is egg freezing?
Before we dive into the world of antidepressants, let’s briefly talk about what egg freezing even is. In a nutshell, egg freezing (aka oocyte cryopreservation) is a way to collect some of your eggs and preserve them for future use. The process takes about 10-14 days and involves taking hormone medication to stimulate your ovaries to grow mature eggs. The eggs are collected during a 30-minute outpatient procedure called an egg retrieval and then frozen until you’re ready to use them.
Given how expensive egg freezing can get, you might be wondering why so many people are choosing to do it. There are many reasons but most of them go back to the same core issue: egg freezing is a way to keep your reproductive options open for later by preserving younger, healthier eggs for future use.
Research has shown that many people are delaying starting their families for reasons that can be personal, professional, financial, psychological, or all of the above. In our own survey of Cofertility users, we asked over 28,000 gen Z and millennial women about their family planning and goals. The majority of responders (73%) said that building their career or going back to school is the most important thing to them right now. This was followed by traveling (53%), finding a life partner (43%) and cultivating new hobbies (32.1%). Additionally, egg freezing has received more and more media attention over the last several years which has certainly helped to increase public awareness of this intervention as a way to keep future fertility options as open as possible.
The low-down on antidepressants
Antidepressants are a group of drugs used to treat depression. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) are the 2 classes (or types) of antidepressants that are most often prescribed but atypical antidepressants are another, newer class that are also used in certain cases. Each class of antidepressant has a different mechanism for how it changes neurochemical levels in the brain to improve the symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. When used correctly, they can improve mood, increase energy levels, and enhance overall functioning. Antidepressants as well as other drugs like benzodiazepines have also been found to be effective as anti-anxiety medications, though only two SSRIs are specifically FDA-approved for anxiety disorders.
Use of both antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications has been rising for over a decade in the US. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 13.2% of adults aged 18 and over use antidepressant medications. Women, older adults, and non-Hispanic whites are the highest users.
Overall, during the decade between 2009 and 2018, antidepressant use increased to 14% from 11% and in all age groups, it was higher among women than it was in men.
Based on these stats, it’s fair to ask why women are more depressed than men. The answer is complicated but women aren’t necessarily more depressed than men. While there is some evidence that fluctuating hormones and more sensitivity to internalized triggers (like relationship drama) may contribute to higher rates of depression in women, there’s also the simple fact that women are more likely to actually go see a doctor to take care of their symptoms. As a result, they are more likely to report depressive symptoms, be diagnosed, and be prescribed appropriate medication.
Do antidepressants affect cycle outcomes?
Alright, let’s get into the reason you’re here: do antidepressants affect egg freezing or in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle outcomes? The most commonly used antidepressant (SSRIs) and anti-anxiety medications (benzodiazepines) don’t have any clear, long-term impacts on egg quantity or quality, ovulation, or chances of conception (though SSRIs do have short-term effects on sperm).
Studies of people using IVF to conceive suggest no effect of SSRI use on hormone levels, number of eggs retrieved, number of eggs that develop into blastocysts, number of embryos rated as “high quality,” or number of embryos transferred. So overall, antidepressants do not appear to affect cycle outcomes.
Let’s dive deeper into this. Since we know SSRIs and other antidepressants often work by changing levels of neurochemicals in the brain like serotonin, there is also the question of whether or not these medications influence reproductive hormones. Unfortunately, there are fewer studies to look at when assessing this (because most studies are done on men in order to avoid the hormonal fluctuations seen in women–lame, we know) but one study did look at almost 1,000 people with ovaries. The study found no differences in menstrual cycle characteristics as a function of SSRI use and no significant differences in pregnancy rates. Other larger studies have had similar findings and showed no differences in chances of conception between people using or not using SSRIs or benzodiazepines.
One thing to note though: there is some evidence that SSRIs increase prolactin levels and very high prolactin levels can mess with your period and prevent you from ovulating. That being said, there are other studies that have not shown this link between SSRI use and prolactin levels and even the studies that do, haven’t shown that prolactin levels are elevated to a high enough level to affect ovulation.
In the context of natural fertility, there is one sneaky, easy-to-miss way that these meds could impact chances of conception — by lowering your sex drive. Having sex less often during your fertile window could definitely lower chances of conception (the general rec is to have sex every 1-2 days in that window). However, how much an antidepressant affects sexual function will be different from person to person and will depend on the specific medication being used.
The CDC and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) consider antidepressant use to be safe during fertility treatments. Other organizations like the American Psychological Association (APA) and the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists (ACOG) also recommend that people do not change their SSRI or benzodiazepine use once they’re pregnant unless instructed to by their provider.
Can you donate eggs if you’re on an SSRI?
This is a pretty common question for people considering donating their eggs. Current use of SSRIs or other antidepressants is considered a “relative exclusion criteria” by the ASRM. This means that it does not automatically disqualify someone from being an egg donor, however, it will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the fertility provider or clinic. Current use of antidepressants may be totally fine with one clinic, but not with another. Many providers feel that common antidepressants are overprescribed in the face of more situational challenges, like the pandemic or other big life changes. Some antidepressant use may also point to another medical condition that would disqualify someone.
Here’s a list of rejection criteria from the ASRM that would automatically make someone ineligible to donate:
- Having been institutionalized for a mental health disorder
- A positive family history of psychiatric disorders
- Two or more first-degree relatives with substance use disorders
- A history of emotional, sexual, or physical abuse without professional treatment
- Excessive stress
- Relationship instability
If you’re interested in what the psych screening for an egg donor entails, you can find more information about it here.
We’re here to help
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to egg donation–and the psychological aspect of the screening is only one part of a larger process to ensure we’re doing right by you and by the receiving parents. The Cofertility team is here to guide you through every single step. By donating your eggs, you’re doing something remarkable for a family in need. We know that everyone’s situation is different, so our job is to make the process feel equally remarkable for you. Whether you continue or discontinue antidepressants during your own process is going to be a decision you make after weighing the risks and benefits and talking to your fertility provider. Whatever you end up choosing for yourself, our team is here to support you through it.
Q&A with a Cofertility Split Member: “Helping Someone Who Wants to Be a Parent So Badly Is Truly Life Changing”
Cofertility is a human-first fertility ecosystem rewriting the egg freezing and egg donation experience. Our Split program allows women to freeze their eggs at no cost, when they donate half to a family that could not otherwise conceive. We are obsessed with improving the family-building journey — today or in the future — and are in an endless pursuit to make these experiences more positive.
Today, I have the privilege of sitting down with one of our Split members to delve into her personal journey—why she chose to freeze her eggs through our program, how she navigated the emotional toll, and the future she envisages for herself and her family. By peeling back the layers, we seek to understand not just the practicalities but also the emotional and psychological nuances of this choice.
Why did you decide to freeze your eggs through Cofertility’s Split program? What were the factors that led to this decision?
I had considered donating my eggs a few times before I had heard of Cofertility, but it had never moved beyond it being an idea in my head because it never felt right. Most of the marketing I saw about egg donation focused on the monetary benefits, which I understood because it is an invasive procedure, but they never talked about where your eggs were going. It felt very impersonal and that I would have no control or say in where these eggs would go.
I had not considered it again until I heard about Cofertility on Instagram. When I first learned about the idea of helping a couple to conceive while also protecting your own fertility I thought it was genius and wondered why this wasn't an option already. My company does not have egg freezing benefits so egg freezing wasn't something I had been planning to do.
Cofertility's split option gave me an opportunity I hadn't even considered - egg donation that didn't feel as yucky and a chance to preserve my own fertility without a huge price tag. It really felt surreal that I would be able to freeze my eggs and not worry so much about a timeline to decide on kids.
What was the hardest part of the process?
Overall, I really felt that Cofertility made this process quite easy for me. Having a member advocate throughout the entire process was incredible, and not having that person switch or change made it really easy to build up the trust.
At the clinic I went to I saw various nurses and doctors, but my Cofertility member advocate stayed the same and that consistency was extremely impactful to my mental health throughout the process.
At the clinic I went to I saw various nurses and doctors, but my Cofertility member advocate stayed the same and that consistency was extremely impactful to my mental health throughout the process. Out of the entire process, I would say the number of appointments and the amount of time needed during the two-week hormone cycle was probably the hardest. Getting blood drawn multiple times a week, followed by doctors appointments, and all the waiting that comes with both does require time investment. I would try to make my appointments as early in the morning as possible to not interfere with my work, but giving yourself grace and flexibility for those two weeks is necessary. I am fortunate to have the flexibility at my job and work with a group of people that were extremely supportive of what I was going through, but if you are someone who is not used to the process it can feel like a lot of time out of your control.
Was there anything that you were nervous about, but ended up not being as bad as you thought?
I was most nervous about the shots going into it, but they ended up not being as bad as I had expected them to be. For the most part, the needles were much shorter and thinner than I expected and I was able to do all of the shots myself.
In fact, once I did my first one I felt a sense of pride and accomplishment for being able to do it. Cofertility had given me a goody bag when I started my cycle and the little ice pack was wonderful for any post-shot discomfort. I also tried to pair the shots with a treat for myself as a little reward... give myself a shot and have some chocolate, give myself a shot and watch a show I love, give myself a shot and do a little online shopping. This process was all new and different for my body so I tried to give myself grace and love throughout it!
Read about egg freezing shots in I'm Afraid of Needles; Can I Still Freeze My Eggs?
Did freezing your eggs affect your relationships or dating life in any way? How did you navigate these aspects during the process?
When thinking about the people I know who have gone through the egg freezing journey, they were all in different stages of their dating / relationship journey. Some were casually dating and not looking for anything serious, some had a new partner that they hoped would turn into something serious, and some were with a long-term partner but not ready to build their family further than that yet. I fall into that last category. When I decided to freeze my eggs with Cofertility, my husband and I had been together for 9 years and married for one. While we were very serious about each other, we weren't sure if or when we wanted kids, but we knew we didn't want them now. My husband was very supportive of the idea of freezing my eggs for our own future use, but I was curious how he would feel about me donating eggs to another family. When I brought it up to him he truly had less hesitation than I even had. His perspective from day one has been that it is my body and if I feel comfortable with the choice then he is here to support me. That position did not change throughout the process, and if anything he (similar to myself) felt more confident each day with the decision to "split" once we met the intended parents and got to know them more.
I feel very lucky to have had a supportive partner to go through this with and someone who trusted my choices 100%. I know this route is something that may take some partners time to digest and understand, but I think in the end the most important thing is that you, as the person freezing and donating your eggs, feel that this is right for you.
How did you manage the emotional and psychological aspects of freezing and donating your eggs?
Looking back, the opportunity to know the parents who I was donating the eggs to played a huge role in managing the donation emotionally and psychologically. When I first learned about Cofertility I wasn't sure if I would want to have a disclosed donation. I was worried about what that would mean and what that relationship would look like.
After learning more about egg donation, it was clear that there is no such thing as an anonymous donor due to the genetic testing that exists today. If I wanted to donate my eggs, I needed to be okay that the child(ren) that they created would be able to know who I am at some point in their life. This was something that I thought over for a while and researched how DCP (Donor Conceived People) felt about. I wanted to know that I was doing the right thing for the possible children that came from these eggs - my own and the intended parents'.
In the end I felt really good about my decision to have a disclosed donation. Knowing that both the intended parents and myself were on the same page on this built a foundation of care and immense respect for the other party.
In the end I felt really good about my decision to have a disclosed donation. Knowing that both the intended parents and myself were on the same page on this built a foundation of care and immense respect for the other party. I have always shared with them that I want to follow their lead on what feels right throughout the process and the years to come and they have been great communicators of what they want while respecting my choices as well. This relationship, along with the huge support from Cofertility, made the process really supportive of my mental health. I went into it wondering if the combination of doing something totally new, medications / hormones, and other life stress would be hard to handle, but I think the peace of mind that comes with preserving your fertility hugely outweighed any weight from those factors.
What are your plans for the future regarding your frozen eggs? How do you envision incorporating them into your family-building journey, if applicable?
Right now, my husband and I haven't decided when we will start to build our family. In a perfect and easy world, we would have no trouble conceiving and the eggs I have frozen wouldn't need to be used, but I have seen for so many people I love this is not always the case. Whether we use the eggs to conceive all of our future children, conceive naturally at first then need to use the eggs for later children, or not use the eggs at all, it gives me so much peace of mind to know that they are there and we took this step to preserve my fertility. It is not an insurance plan, but it feels good to know that Cofertility opened a door for me that otherwise I likely would not have opened on my own.
Lastly, what advice would you give to someone who is considering freezing and donating their eggs? Are there any important factors they should keep in mind?
The biggest advice I would have is to really understand if you want your egg freezing journey to be something that happens and you are done with it or if you are open to something that will be a little part of you for your life.
What I mean by this is that if you freeze your eggs without donating you go through the process, the injections, and the retrieval and then you are done unless you one day need to use those eggs. When you freeze your eggs and donate half you go through that same process, but in the future there may be a DCP that reaches out to you once they are 18 to try to make a connection, or intended parents that reach out when they need additional family medical history, or maybe you have a closer relationship with the intended parents and you get annual cards with updates of the DCP.
No matter the case, there is a possibility that your involvement with egg donation does not end entirely when the eggs are physically donated. This was something I really thought hard about and found a lot of peace with. The process that Cofertility leads you through with speaking to a fertility counselor both alone and with the intended parents helped with that as well.
On top of the counseling, having a clear contract and great legal support (Cofertility also helps with recommending representation) gave me peace of mind that I knew and agreed to all boundaries in the donation.
I truly think egg donation is such a meaningful thing to do, helping someone who wants to be a parent so badly conceive is truly life changing and I am so grateful to Cofertility for giving me the opportunity to help out an amazing couple and also preserve my own fertility in the process.
Researchers Followed 921 Patients Who Froze Their Eggs; Here’s What They Found
In the last few years, egg freezing has become a more and more popular option for people who want to preserve their fertility and/or delay their family-building. While the process of egg freezing has improved significantly in recent decades, there’s still some concern about whether egg freezing is worth it (especially with its hefty price tag) and what outcomes to expect if someone does end up using their eggs. There haven’t been a ton of studies and surveys that look into this but it’s important information to know as you consider your fertility options. In this article, we’ll explore the findings of one large study that looked at nearly 1,000 patients who froze their eggs and what happened with those eggs years down the line.
The nuts and bolts
First off, let’s get the boring definitions out of the way. The first thing to know is what type of study this is, or how it was designed. In this case, a retrospective observational cohort study was performed. This means that researchers looked at a group of people who had been exposed to a particular treatment in the past (in this case, egg freezing) and then followed them over time to see what happened. Pretty simple, right? The main goal of this type of research is to understand more about the relationship between the treatment in question and the outcomes that the research team chooses to measure.
What they looked at
Now, let’s get into the specifics of what was being measured in this study. The primary goal here was to follow a cohort of patients who returned to use their frozen eggs and to see what their cycle outcomes were. So, researchers looked at the clinical experiences of 921 people who froze their eggs at a fertility center between 2006 and 2020. Anyone who froze their eggs for medical reasons was excluded. They gathered information about each patient’s background, the freezing and thawing of their eggs, and what happened when they tried to have a baby using those eggs.
The main outcome the researchers wanted to measure was the live birth rate (LBR), which is a number that tells you the chances of an actual baby being born. In addition to that, they also collected information about each patient’s clinical pregnancy rate (CPR) as well as their CPR and LBR per embryo transfer. CPR is the number that tells you the chances of a documented pregnancy. Once these results were collected, they were then separated based on whether the patients were younger or older than 38.
What they learned
Ok, now onto the good stuff: the results! There were several key questions that this study gave us some answers to. Let’s break them down.
- What percentage of people actually come back to use their frozen eggs? 68 of the 921 patients in this cohort (7.4%) returned to use their frozen eggs to create embryos for transfer. Interestingly, the patients who came back to use their frozen eggs were on average older (about 38 years old).
- What percentage of the people who used their frozen eggs got pregnant and had a baby (i.e., CPR and LBR)? Almost one-third of patients who came back (32.4%) successfully achieved a live birth from their frozen egg, with 39 years old (at the time of freezing) being the upper limit of success. No patient who froze eggs at the age of 40 or over had a successful live birth from those eggs.
- How does age at time of egg freezing and at time of transfer impact clinical outcomes? There was a trend towards lower CPR and LBR the older the person was at the time they froze their eggs–this makes sense given our understanding that fertility declines as we get older. Almost 40% of people who were less than 38 years old at the time of egg freezing had a live birth, compared to only 25% of patients who were 38 and over. While this difference wasn’t a statistically significant one, it’s still evidence that age matters.
- How did outcomes compare between people who tried having a baby using their frozen eggs and people who do in vitro fertilization (IVF) at the same age with non-frozen eggs? Even though the people who go through egg freezing may not have an infertility diagnosis at the time of the freezing, the rate of success for these patients is on par with IVF success rates for infertile patients in the same age group.
Strengths and weaknesses
As interesting as all of this data is, it’s always important to consider what strengths and limitations a study has. This study had some notable strengths. It provides us with real-world data on how well frozen eggs work. This is much more useful than the mostly theoretical data that’s been published before. In addition, the outcomes were described for each egg freezing cycle and as a total success rate for each patient. This total success rate is the most helpful when it comes to advising patients on their own chances of having a baby. The study also looked at 14 years of data from a single large hospital that does a lot of IVF in the area. With that long of a time span, we’re able to get a good idea of how patients have been doing in this region during that time.
Now, onto the limitations. One big issue with this study is that of the 921 initial patients, there weren't many to analyze who actually returned to use their frozen eggs. It's not surprising, then, that no statistically significant differences could be found in the outcomes between the under 38 and over 38 age groups. What does this mean? Basically, these results should be taken with a grain of salt. A much larger study is the next step to confirm these findings, but that would likely take several more years given the low use of frozen eggs and the time it takes for someone to use their eggs after freezing them. Despite the small number of patients, this study is still one of the larger ones when it comes to reporting what happens once frozen eggs are thawed and used.
In a nutshell…
So what should you, as a potential egg freezer, take away from this? Here are the major points to remember:
- Based on the LBR of 32.4% that this study reports, egg freezing is a great fertility preservation option when done at younger ages (<38 years old).
- Age at time of egg freezing affects success more than age at the time of transfer. This was shown by the fact that no patient who froze eggs at age 40 or over had a live birth from those eggs.
- Using frozen eggs results in ongoing pregnancy or a live birth at a rate that’s on par with IVF patients of the same age.
- These results should all be taken with a grain of salt because of the small number of people who actually returned to use their frozen eggs. A much larger study needs to happen next to confirm these numbers.
At the end of the day, egg freezing provides people with more options so that they can have more control over their fertility options later down the line. It’s not a guarantee, though, and it should not be treated as such. There are so many factors that impact a person’s fertility and whether or not egg freezing is a good option for them. Family planning is going to look different for every person so you need to do what’s right for you. When you’re ready, talking to a fertility specialist can help you make up your mind.
In the meantime, Freeze by Co is here to help you every step of the way on that journey. Our Split program allows those who qualify to freeze their eggs for free! In a “Split” cycle, you donate half of the eggs retrieved to a family that’s trying to conceive and freeze the remaining half for yourself. Or, if you don’t want to donate, you can still participate in the Keep program, where you’re able to freeze your eggs and keep them all for yourself, on your timeline. In addition, you’ll have access to our online support community. This valuable resource lets you engage with other people freezing their eggs at the same time!
Whatever you end up choosing for yourself, our team is here to guide you through it and keep your options open.
What Does It Mean to Donate Your Eggs?
Egg donation is an incredible way for women to help others fulfill their dreams of parenthood — but you might be wondering, what does “egg donation” actually mean? The process involves several steps, and it’s important to have a rock-solid understanding of what’s involved before moving forward with donating your eggs.
In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of egg donation, why women choose to donate their eggs, dispel common myths about egg donation, and share more about how the Cofertility Split program is a unique approach to egg donation.
How egg donation works
Egg donation is a medical process in which a woman provides her eggs to assist another individual or couple in conceiving a child. This process can be a beacon of hope for those struggling with infertility, same-sex couples, or individuals who cannot use their eggs for various medical reasons, like cancer survivors.
The egg donation process, step-by-step
Screening and matching
As a first step, if you’re interested in donating your eggs, you can apply to Freeze by Co’s programs by answering a few quick questions about yourself. If you qualify, you’ll move on to the full application where you’ll provide some information about your family medical history, genetic background, and motivations for going through the process.
Once you’ve been accepted into Freeze by Co’s Split program — where you can freeze your eggs for free when you donate half of the eggs retrieved to another family who can’t conceive — you’ll immediately join our member community, where you can connect with others at the exact same point in the process, lean on each other, and learn from one another.
As you await your intended parent match, you’ll undergo some bloodwork at a local lab to get an idea of your potential ovarian reserve (or egg count) ahead of time. This helps give everyone the confidence that you’ll get enough eggs to share. Once you match with an intended parent, you’ll then undergo in-person medical and psych testing before moving on to legal contracts, your stimulation cycle, and retrieval.
Donating eggs is a big deal, and not to be taken lightly on either end — so these first screening steps are incredibly important!
Once you’ve entered into a match with intended parents and you’ve passed your initial physical screening, you will enter into a legal agreement with the intended parents. This document will lay out all specifics regarding your and the intended parents’ rights throughout the process. Specifically, it will note that by donating your eggs, you waive all rights to those eggs and are not considered the parent of any resulting embryos or children.
This contract also provides the opportunity to put into writing your preferences around disclosure and communication, and intended parents will do the same. Ultimately, this is a vital step throughout the process — and at Cofertility, we provide members of our Split program legal counsel to ensure they are represented fairly.
Stimulation and retrieval
Once you’ve been given the green light, you’ll begin your egg donation cycle. During your 10-14 day cycle, you’ll take injectable hormone medications daily to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple egg-containing follicles. Frequent monitoring via quick blood tests and ultrasounds will ensure that your eggs are reaching peak maturity prior to retrieval. As the eggs mature, you may feel some bloating.
When the eggs reach maturity, a minor surgical procedure known as an egg retrieval is performed under sedation. A specialized needle is used to extract the eggs from your ovaries, and it’s a relatively quick procedure, and you’ll go home that day to get some rest. Your doctor will monitor you closely afterwards and check in after the procedure to ensure there are no complications.
Your half of the eggs will be frozen and safely stored for up to 10 years for free. The other half will go to the family you matched with.
So, why would a woman donate her eggs?
There are many reasons why someone might donate her eggs, but the main rationale we tend to hear falls into a few main categories:
- Empathy and compassion: Many women choose to donate their eggs out of a desire to help others experience the joy of parenthood. They want to make a meaningful difference in someone's life and recognize the emotional struggles of those trying to bring children into the world, especially if they know someone first-hand who has faced family-building challenges.
- Ethical considerations: Many egg donors share a strong belief in reproductive autonomy, allowing individuals and couples to make choices about their family-building journey.
- Opportunity to freeze your eggs for free: Egg donation can also offer financial compensation to donors, though the exact amount varies by location and agency. Our Split program instead offers a unique approach, allowing women to freeze their eggs for free when they donate half the eggs retrieved to another family.
Facts and myths about egg donation
When it comes to egg donation, there’s a ton of misinformation out there — let’s dive into some of the big myths you may come across and dissect which ones are fact vs. fiction.
Can you still have kids after donating eggs?
Yes. Donating eggs does not affect a woman's ability to have children in the future. A stimulation and retrieval cycle involves such a small fraction of a woman’s total egg supply, which the body replenishes. That said, it's essential to consider your own family-building goals with a healthcare provider before becoming a donor — which is why we offer our Split program. Those participating in the program are able to preserve a bit of their own fertility while doing something amazing for another family.
Read more in Does Donating Eggs Affect Your Fertility?
Are donor eggs your baby?
Nope. Donor eggs are *not* babies. They are half of the genetic material used for the child of the intended parent(s), with the remaining genetic material coming from the sperm provider (the intended parent or a sperm donor). A donor's contribution is solely the eggs, not the full genetic makeup of the child. And, as mentioned above, as part of the process you’ll sign a legal agreement clarifying that you do not have rights to any embryos or children resulting from these eggs.
Will I experience psychological impact?
Yes — but in a good way! If screened and educated properly (this is a big “if”), anyone donating eggs should have full informed consent about the donation process and everything involved. All egg donors should undergo thorough psychological assessments and have access to counseling before, during, and after the process to ensure their emotional well being.
At Freeze by Co, our model removes cash compensation from the egg donation process (rather, enabling women in our Split program to freeze half of the eggs for their own future use for free). We’ve designed the program to provide Split members with the opportunity to not only preserve some of their own fertility future, but also help another family. This way, everyone involved can feel good about the journey.
Read more in Will I Regret Donating My Eggs?
Donating eggs through Cofertility's Split program
Cofertility's Split program is a unique approach to egg donation that distinguishes itself from traditional methods rooted in cash compensation and icky practices. Our program helps provide everyone — both the person freezing and donating their eggs and the intended parent(s) — with autonomy to grow their family, whether that’s today, or maybe some time in the future.
Members of our Split program get to keep half of the eggs retrieved, plus:
- Free storage of their own eggs in cryopreservation for up to 10 years
- Coverage of all medical costs for the egg donation process
- Connection to the Cofertility community for support all along the way and after too
- The ability to work with the intended parents to decide together what your relationship will look like
If giving your eggs to intended parents sounds like something you would like to do, you may be able to qualify for the free egg freezing process and have your donation process covered too.
Take our quiz to see if you qualify for our Split program today!
We believe that every donor deserves to have a positive and empowering experience, and we are committed to making that a reality. That’s why Cofertility was named one of the Best Egg Donor Programs by Egg Donor Connect.
Why You Deserve an Egg Freezing Registry (And What to Put On It!)
The gift registry has been a cultural institution for pivotal life moments — from the gilded spoons and Ninja blenders of wedding registries to the cute little onesies of baby shower lists. These wish lists give friends and family an easy way to provide support that you actually want.
But what if we took this concept and applied it to another life milestone that is also super exciting? This brings us to the idea of an egg freezing registry. Yes, you heard that right. An egg freezing registry.
On Sex and the City, after celebrating countless weddings and babies, Carrie Bradshaw famously took matters into her own hands and created her own registry in honor of her marriage to herself. Her registry had just one item — a pair of Manolo Blahnik shoes. Our take? If Carrie can celebrate herself, you can, too. Especially when you’re doing something so incredible for your future as freezing your eggs.
Why you deserve an egg freezing registry
You may be wondering, particularly in a society that still wrestles with norms surrounding reproductive choices, as to whether you “deserve” to have a registry for something as personal and medical as egg freezing. The answer is a resounding YES, and here’s why.
Normalizing reproductive autonomy
Creating a registry for egg freezing can help normalize the conversation around reproductive autonomy and shatter persisting taboos. Women have long been subject to societal pressures about when and how they should have children. The ability to crowdfund one’s egg freezing process (or at least get some goodies covered) is a bold statement of agency, positioning the egg freezer not as a subject of societal expectations but as an architect of her own life.
Creating a registry for egg freezing can help normalize the conversation around reproductive autonomy and shatter persisting taboos.
Solidifying social support
The explicit act of creating a registry — and having loved ones contribute to it — serves as a profound endorsement of your choices. The communal act of contributing to a registry can offer emotional sustenance and make sure you know that your community is invested in your well-being, present and future.
Lessening the financial load
Financial obstacles should not dictate reproductive choices. Just as registries for weddings or baby showers are widely accepted tools for “getting someone started” with the essentials, an egg freezing registry is a legitimate way to help offset some of the costs.
A reimagined social contract
Finally, having an egg freezing registry reinforces a modernized social contract. At its core, a registry is an agreement among a community that signifies its collective investment in a significant life event. Weddings are not just about the couple, and baby showers are not just about the parents; they are about a larger circle of family and friends who will interact with that couple or child and want to support and celebrate them. Similarly, an egg freezing registry proclaims that a woman's reproductive choices are worth communal support, thus redefining the very ethos of what our social contracts can include.
So, do you deserve to have an egg freezing registry? Absolutely. In doing so, you're not only giving yourself the gift of choice but also expanding the societal dialogue around what choice can and should look like.
What should I add to my egg freezing registry?
One of the most exciting possibilities of an egg freezing registry is the potential to ask for specific add-ons that could aid in your egg freezing journey. Here are some ideas:
- Nutritional supplements: Omega-3s, prenatal vitamins, and other supplements to prepare your body for your cycle.
- Heating pad: Useful for post-procedure comfort and relief from cramps.
- Fuzzy socks: These make the often-cold clinic rooms and stirrup-bound procedures markedly more comfortable.
- Chocolates/other treats: Emotional well-being is part and parcel of the egg freezing journey; indulgent treats can serve as small but potent morale boosters.
- Wellness packages: Sessions for acupuncture or fertility yoga, aimed at enhancing both emotional and physical well-being.
- Books and journals: Literature on reproductive health, fertility journeys, or self-reflective journals.
- Travel vouchers: For those who choose clinics far from home, these can cover transportation or even lodging costs.
- Food delivery/meal prep: Gift cards to services like Doordash, Uber Eats, HelloFresh, Goldbelly, can help keep you well fed during the egg freezing period.
- Bath bombs: For pre- or post-procedure relaxation, because a soothing bath can be a sanctuary in stressful times.
- Other relaxation aids: Consider adding aromatherapy oils, scented candles, or a premium-quality eye mask for deep relaxation.
You’ll want to diversify the options on your registry to make it easier for contributors to select gifts that align with their budget and your needs. These practical and comfort-focused gifts not only provide material relief but also serve as tokens of emotional support from your community.
Tips for hosting and sharing your egg freezing registry
So where could you host such a registry? Existing platforms could easily be adapted for this purpose. A few possibilities include:
- Amazon: Given its almost universal reach and diverse product range.
- Target: A favorite for baby shower registries, the leap to egg freezing isn't a big one.
- GoFundMe: Already a popular choice for medical crowdfunding, this platform could provide a natural fit if you just need cash.
- Meal Train: Makes it easy for friends and family to help feed you!
Spreading the word about your egg freezing registry
Creating the registry is the first half of the equation; sharing it with your network is the other, equally nuanced, half. The act of disseminating your egg freezing registry becomes not just an invitation for contributions but also an opening for dialogue, education, and emotional connection.
Much like sharing any significant life news, timing is pivotal. You may want to inform the closest people in your life individually before broadcasting it more broadly.
When you share your registry, include a personalized message explaining why you've chosen to freeze your eggs and how their support can be instrumental. This humanizes what might otherwise seem like a straightforward transaction, adding layers of meaning and context.
We recommend emphasizing that you appreciate any support or celebration and that there is zero pressure to contribute. There are multiple ways to show support, be it emotional or material. This may be especially helpful to include, as some recipients may be financially constrained or morally conflicted.
As your journey progresses, keeping your contributors updated adds an extra layer of engagement and acknowledgment. It’s an opportunity to show the impact of their support, which goes beyond monetary contributions and enters the realm of emotional sustenance.
Creating an egg freezing registry is more than a logistical step; it’s an emotional and sociocultural undertaking that can serve various roles: a litmus test for societal progress, a platform for dialogue, and an arena for collective emotional investment. Navigate it with the same sensitivity and thoughtfulness you applied when deciding to freeze your eggs in the first place, and you can open up spaces not just for communal contributions but for meaningful human connections as well.
Freeze your eggs with Cofertility
We’d love the opportunity to support you on your egg freezing journey.
Through our Split program, qualified freezers can freeze their eggs for free when donating half of the eggs retrieved to a family who can’t otherwise conceive.
Through our Keep program — where you keep 100% of eggs retrieved for your own future use — we offer exclusive discounts on expenses, such as frozen egg storage. Keep members also still gain free access to our Freeze by Co Community, a safe space for those engaging in the egg freezing process (or gearing up for it) to connect and lean on each other.
By making egg freezing easier and more accessible, our programs further strengthen the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)’s Committee opinion that egg freezing can help promote social justice and strengthen gender equality.
How Rachel Liverman Crane Overcame Medical Anxiety to Freeze Her Eggs
Rachel Liverman Crane is the Founder & CEO of the East Coast skincare facial concept Glow Bar. Yet, her dynamic life doesn't end with her professional achievements; she's also taken a bold step in her personal life by freezing her eggs — a journey made even more remarkable by overcoming medical anxiety, a common fear that affects many people facing medical procedures.
Medical anxiety is more than a fleeting concern; it's a genuine fear that can hinder individuals from pursuing necessary or elective medical treatments. In Rachel's case, it was a hurdle she had to conquer on her path to securing future family planning options.
Her journey reflects a blend of determination, pragmatism, and an unwavering belief in one's self, sending a strong message to others about the power of informed choices and the beauty of self-confidence. By bravely facing her fears, Rachel serves as an inspiration to others who may be on the fence about egg freezing. Whether it's expanding a skincare brand or planning for a future family, she navigates life with grace, wisdom, and a touch of humor, embodying the future's endless possibilities.
In a candid interview with us, Rachel shares this journey, opening up about her experience with egg freezing and how she overcame the anxiety that often accompanies medical decisions.
Deciding to freeze
At the age of 35, while single and deeply focused on growing her business, Rachel made the decision to freeze her eggs. Recognizing that she wouldn't be having children in the immediate future, she saw this as a way to retain her focus on her career without the looming pressure of biological timing. "I figured I would freeze my eggs so my focus could remain on my career and not have the pressure of having kids feel so strong."
The process resulted in a "lucky dozen" of 12 eggs, with nine being frozen. Her AMH was 1.81, and she candidly shares her experience, describing herself as an "open book."
Embracing the process even with medical anxiety
“But in the end”, she says, “it was so simple and my doctor and his team took such great care of me the entire way.”
Having seen friends go through it, she knew what to expect, although the physical discomfort and bloating after retrieval did surprise her. “The thing that surprised me the most was how bloated and uncomfortable that would feel after the retrieval process.”
What stands out, however, is the empowerment and strength she felt after going through this elective procedure, particularly given her medical anxiety. "I was really proud of myself for doing something that scared me for my future self!"
Rachel, we’re proud of you too!
Facing the hard parts head-on
The journey wasn't without its challenges. The financial burden was a difficult aspect for her. As a startup founder, making such a significant investment had a real impact. Still, the sacrifice was worth it, even if it meant missing events like close friends' weddings abroad. "I don't have any regrets," she asserts.
Read more about paying for egg freezing:
Choosing Dr. Joshua Stewart at Dr. Joshua Stewart at Cornell for the procedure, she feels the decision has had a profoundly positive effect on her professional life. It allowed her to prioritize her career, team, and business without sacrificing personal aspirations.
Looking back and looking ahead
Looking back, the only thing she might have done differently is to take supplements or seek acupuncture to support her eggs. Yet, she considers the freezing of her eggs as part of her journey, jokingly referring to them as her "insurance plan" and the possibility of thawing these "cuties" to make babies if and when needed.
Rachel says that her relationships and dating life remained unaffected. Freezing her eggs just became "another part of me," not altering her approach to dating or personal relationships.
Advice for others
Her advice for others considering this path is wise and considerate. She urges people to talk to others who have undergone the process, ask questions, advocate for themselves, and not to push themselves if it doesn't feel right.
"Don't feel pressure to do this if it doesn't feel right for you. It's a serious and expensive procedure, so make sure that this is something that you really care about and feel is right for you and where you are today.” We couldn’t agree more!
Can I Freeze My Eggs if I Have HPV?
The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the United States. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), HPV is so common that “nearly all sexually active men and women get the virus at some point in their lives.” With at least 150 types of HPVs that we know of, it’s no wonder that 79 million Americans have at least one type. But fear not!
While it’s true that some STIs can lead to infertility, there’s no need to freak out in the case of HPV. HPV on its own shouldn’t affect your ability to conceive. However, because HPV is often asymptomatic (meaning there aren’t any obvious signs or symptoms), it’s also one of the least treated STIs. Most of the time, that isn’t a big deal. But depending on the type of HPV someone has, there can be an increased risk of developing cancer or precancerous cells on the cervix, which do require treatment. The treatments to remove these abnormal cervical cells can, in turn, affect fertility—this is when discussing fertility if you have HPV becomes really important so let’s talk about it.
What is HPV and what causes it?
We’re gonna back up for a second here and explain the basics of HPV. HPV is actually an umbrella term for a group of over 200 related viral infections that affect the outer skin layers of the genitals, mouth, hands and feet. So, while transmission can happen without sexual intercourse, the vast majority of HPV infections are the result of unprotected sex.
In these cases, you can get HPV by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the virus but it’s most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. It also spreads through close skin-to-skin touching during sex. A person with HPV can pass the infection to someone even when they have no signs or symptoms.
Because of this, if you’re sexually active at all, you can get HPV—even if you’ve had sex with only one person. You can also develop symptoms years after having sex with someone who has the infection. This is why doctors usually can’t tell you when you might have gotten it.
Types of HPV and treatments
Of the many types of HPV, only some are of actual concern and could therefore affect fertility, either due to the virus itself or the treatments used to manage it. Low-risk HPVs mostly cause no disease and typically go away on their own within 2-3 years. However, a few low-risk HPV types can cause warts on or around the genitals, anus, mouth, or throat. High-risk HPVs can cause several types of cancer. There are about 14 high-risk HPV types including HPV 16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 66, and 68. Two of these, HPV16 and HPV18, are responsible for most HPV-related cancers.
As mentioned earlier, most HPV infections don’t cause cancer. Your immune system is usually able to control HPV infections so they don’t progress to cancer. However, high-risk HPV infections are more likely to persist and can eventually cause cervical cancer. In these cases, the immune system is not able to control the HPV infection and as the high-risk HPV infection lingers for many years, it can lead to abnormal cell changes that, if untreated, may worsen over time and become cancer.
If your doctor decides that they need to remove abnormal cells, they’ll use one of the following treatments:
- cryotherapy, or freezing and eliminating the abnormal tissue
- a cone biopsy (conization) to remove part of the cervix
- a loop electrosurgical excision procedure (LEEP), which involves removing cells with a wire loop that has an electrical charge
We’ll talk more about how these procedures can affect your fertility later on.
How does HPV impact fertility?
While most HPV infections clear up on their own (and rarely make themselves known through noticeable symptoms), the infections that persist can have a negative impact on fertility for all genders—either due to the infection itself or the treatments used.
Fertility risks associated with HPV include:
- Damage to the cervix via HPV itself or the treatment used to remove affected tissue from the cervix
- Decreased ovarian reserve
- Damage to sperm or parts of the male reproductive system
HPV and cervical function
First and foremost, HPV can damage the cervix directly over time if left untreated. This is why it’s so important to get those annual exams and routine pap smears with HPV testing! Most of the time, testing is the only way to know for certain whether a person has HPV or not. Once HPV has persisted for a long time or is getting more severe, it’s time to remove abnormal cells with one of the procedures mentioned earlier–cryotherapy, cone biopsy, or a LEEP. These procedures can most notably affect your ability to reach full term in a future pregnancy but this depends on several factors including how large and deep the area to be treated is.
In all cases, cell removal can change your body’s cervical mucus production. The procedures may also cause stenosis, or a narrowing of the opening of the cervix. This can slow down sperm and make it harder for an egg to get fertilized. Cones and LEEPs can also cause the cervix to weaken. While this won’t cause infertility or difficulty getting pregnant, it can lead to cervical insufficiency, which can cause your cervix to painlessly open and thin before your pregnancy has made it to term, and lead to a preterm delivery.
HPV and ovarian reserve
There have been several interesting studies about HPV and ovarian function but overall the literature is a bit of a mixed bag. Overall, research has suggested that HPV infection may be associated with a higher rate of spontaneous loss or underdevelopment when undergoing IVF. One study that compared HPV positive and HPV negative people found that a decreased ovarian reserve was more common in the HPV positive over the HPV negative group. Another study looked at HPV positive and HPV negative people undergoing IVF and their response to stimulation. No significant difference was seen in the responsiveness to controlled ovarian stimulation in terms of the number and maturity of retrieved eggs or in terms of fertilization rates. Finally, a recent study published this year showed no effect on live birth rates when comparing people with and without HPV.
HPV and its effects on male partners
Several studies have shown a link between HPV and decreased fertility for male partners. In particular, sperm containing HPV has been shown to negatively contribute to both male and couple infertility. One study done in 2011 found that men who had HPV were more likely to have an impairment of certain sperm parameters, like motility. This was confirmed in another study done in 2015. On top of that, if sperm containing HPV fertilizes an egg, there may be an increased risk of early miscarriage.
Can I freeze my eggs if I have HPV?
The good news with all of this is that an HPV diagnosis alone should not affect your ability to get pregnant or to freeze your eggs. Most fertility specialists will require an up to date pap smear and HPV test as part of their evaluation and you’ll usually be allowed to continue with the freezing process as long as the HPV is low-risk, since those cases are expected to clear on their own.
If you do have a high-risk HPV, you’ll need to discuss those results with both your OB/GYN and your fertility doctor to figure out what next step is right for you. Depending on the specific HPV strain, if there are any lesions and how advanced they are, your doctor will recommend continuing with egg freezing or delaying until after treatment.
If there are precancerous cells in the cervix, minor treatment through cryosurgery or LEEP will be necessary and this is almost always recommended before trying to get pregnant or undergoing any other fertility treatments, including egg freezing or IVF. For the most part, these procedures don’t affect reproductive potential though and most people go on to have healthy pregnancies once they’ve recovered.
Risks and benefits of egg freezing with HPV
The main risk of freezing with HPV is the concern for a lower yield and the quality of eggs retrieved. As mentioned before, some studies have shown that HPV does have an effect on ovarian reserve but others have shown little to no differences in IVF outcomes. There are also so many additional factors that affect a person’s fertility. Your provider is going to be the best person to tell you whether your case warrants clearing the HPV before moving ahead with egg freezing. The benefit of egg freezing with HPV is that you’re taking a proactive step to preserve your future fertility. Whether your HPV is low- or high-risk, whether you require treatment or not, you’ll know you’ve safeguarded your options.
Can I donate eggs if I have HPV?
The donor egg screening process will vary somewhat from clinic to clinic but here at Cofertility, our goal is to be as clear as possible about what this involves. All potential donors will be assessed in terms of their age, AMH levels, medical and family history, psychological and physical health. Making sure your pap smear and HPV testing are up to date is included in this process.
HPV won’t automatically disqualify you from becoming an egg donor since it’s not transmittable through your eggs. However, as mentioned before, this will depend on which HPV type, whether it’s low or high-risk, and whether there are any precancerous or cancerous lesions found during the screening process. For a full list of disqualifications for egg donation through Cofertility, click here.
The takeaway from all of this at the end of the day is that preventive care is king! Protecting yourself from HPV by getting vaccinated and making sure to get your pap smears on time can not only decrease your cervical cancer risk (which is a pretty good reason all on its own) but it can also lower your risk for preventable pregnancy or fertility concerns down the road.
While there’s still more research to be done on the effects of HPV on fertility in all genders, it can safely be said that discussing HPV and fertility with your healthcare providers should be at the top of your list. This is especially true if you have HPV and end up requiring more invasive management—your providers can help you make a plan about your fertility future before any treatments begin.
Egg freezing and HPV can be confusing individually so you’re not alone when it comes to questions and concerns around both topics and how they affect each other. Freeze by Co is here to help you every step of the way. With our Split program, people between 21 to 33 years old have the chance to freeze their eggs for free! After 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 or not interested in donating half the eggs retrieved, 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. Our private, online community allows you to engage with other people freezing their eggs at the exact same time!
Regardless of which path you choose, our Freeze by Co team and medical experts will be there to guide you through the process as we work to keep your family-building options on the table.