Egg freezing is an investment in your future family. Yet, just as with any investment. It takes money to make one.
Or does it?
As a recent contributor to the USA TODAY, I’m thrilled to learn of creative programs, such as my own Freeze & Share, offering women alternative ways to preserve and protect their fertility.
As I’ve said many times before, your fertility is not skin deep. There is not Botox available for your ovaries. In other words?—?it doesn’t matter how good you look on the outside as the truth is your fertility declines with age.
So what’s the best way to give yourself an option for your future family? To consider preserving your fertility by freezing your eggs.
If you’re young you may think it’s too expensive to freeze your eggs. Or you may think you don’t need to. Whatever you do, I hope you get your fertility levels checked today as your fertility is fleeting. I say that not to scare you, but to inspire you to become informed enough to take action.
Who knows, maybe you’ll determine Freeze & Share is a good fit for you. It’s a program I want to tell you more about.
It all begins with a personal story:
As a medical student part of my fertility training was to take care of egg donors. I encountered woman after woman who?—?in the prime of their fertility?—?were donating eggs, but keeping none for themselves. This bothered me. I mentioned to my professors that I wanted to start a program to help donors save some of their eggs for themselves. They agreed it was a good idea.
However, it wasn’t until I actually opened my medical practice ten years ago that I learned first-hand how important it is for young donors to save some eggs they donate for their future selves.
At the time I saw a woman who was 40 years old. She came to me after several failed rounds of IVF. We determined she would need to use donor eggs, which at her age is not uncommon. However, the punch in the gut was learning that she herself had been a donor at aged 22. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, none of those eggs were saved or available to her. I felt this was incredibly unfair and somewhat cruel.
This didn’t need to happen, but it was. And she wasn’t the only patient asking me to call clinics they’d donated eggs to in hopes that some remained for their own use. Each time I called the answer was always no.
But the answer doesn’t need to be no. It’s my mission to make it a “yes”.
Let’s back up a bit and talk more about egg donation and fertility in general.
Donating eggs isn’t like donating an organ like a kidney.
Once you donate a kidney the other kidney doesn’t “run out.” It keeps working for the rest of your life. Whereas, a woman’s eggs inevitably run out and may be depleted at a time in her life when she hasn’t started or completed her own family.
Every egg donor should be offered a freeze and share.
One of my primary goals of starting Freeze & Share was my hope that every egg donor would be given an option to choose fertility preservation during egg donation. I believe that life is made rich by giving. With Freeze & Share, a recipient of eggs (typically an older woman) is giving a donor a chance at future fertility including all expenses (legal, psych, medical, travel and 5 years of storage) in exchange for sharing the gift of life in the form of a donated egg.
Cost is a barrier to egg freezing, but it doesn’t have to be.
I started eggfreezingparty.com in 2014 to educate about fertility. It is my mission to make sure everyone knows about egg freezing in the same way that everyone knows that you can get breast implants.
Egg Freezing is expensive, especially if it may take several rounds to secure enough eggs for the family size you may want in the future.
While there are several options for financing available, my hope is that Freeze & Share is a feel-good option for young and fertile women to consider. However, it is not for everyone.
There’s no such thing as an anonymous donor. DNA privacy is a thing of the past.
There are many instances of egg donation where the woman giving her eggs away has no idea who they are going to, only to get a knock on her door years later from a biological child.
This is not a good situation for anyone involved.
In my program, I want donors to have the option of choosing where their eggs go. They determine the terms of the relationship with the recipient of their donation as either “open identity” or “open access”.
I want to give every egg donor the chance to know where her eggs are going. The information shared should not be one-sided. With careful counseling by a psychologist, both the freezer and the recipient of the eggs feel really good about the process and the relationship.
I have wonderful patients that want to give back to the egg donor and covering the cost of them storing frozen eggs for their own future use is a meaningful way to do so.
I get emotional talking about the matches we’ve made in the program’s infancy. It’s truly a special gift to see this type of exchange. (See The Biggest Loser star Ali Vincent’s story).
If you’re open to the idea of an individual or couple covering the costs of getting your eggs frozen in exchange for donating half of them so they can start a family, then this program may be for you.
It’s more than a transaction; it’s a relationship and emotional bond that you’d be forming with who you are supporting.
For many of the families, their egg donor ends up becoming a new member of their family. (See article, The Extended Donor Family: It’s All About Connection) And again, they’d be supporting you too financially by making fertility preservation a reality.
You can also catch more of me and topics like this through the Egg Whisperer Show. The episodes are live-streamed on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter and on Wednesdays at 7 PM PST. Subscribe to the podcasttoo!