Nov 17, 2023
While Lauren was pitching Uber Health to their executive team, she felt a sharp, irregular pain in her stomach. With testing and a diagnostic surgery, she was diagnosed with an incredibly rare disease and was told she may not be able to have a biological child. As you can imagine, her first questions were: how do I navigate this disease? But also, how will I build a family some day? Because so little is known about this disease, it was unclear if she could pursue egg-freezing, so she started looking into donation and what stuck out to her was how antiquated and, for a lack of a better word, “icky” the traditional system felt.
While, ultimately, she was very fortunate to have her sister freeze her eggs and donate them to her to potentially use later, and was able to conceive her baby girl unassisted, she never stopped thinking about egg donation. I spent months thinking about the costly, and emotionally and physically taxing feats people go through to build a family, and couldn’t believe no one has been talking about this and yet, egg donation is at the crux of so many other pieces of the industry. It’s an essential part of LGBTQ+ family planning, it goes hand in hand with egg-freezing, and it’s part of the process for many couples who go through infertility.
That’s why in 2022, she founded Cofertility, to reshape fertility preservation and third-party reproduction so it’s more accessible, human and community-driven. The company offers a destigmatized, scalable approach to egg donation, which reshapes the cost structure of egg-freezing by matching women who want to freeze their eggs with families who could not otherwise conceive and by donating half, women can freeze their eggs for free. Since their launch last fall, tens of thousands of people have applied to be a part of their egg-freezing programs, and they have activated hundreds of donors. They’ve also taken a firm stance against the historical, predatory practices that involve cash compensation and failing to provide fertility education for the donor’s own reproductive future. In the egg-sharing model, which is what their Split program offers, there is a focus on shared outcomes rather than financial gain. All members get access to their online community, where people talk openly about their egg-freezing experience and support one another through it in real time and they welcome all intended parents — single or coupled, regardless of what brought them here — and support them with compassion and respect for whatever path is best for them.
Key takeaways from the podcast that listeners will learn today:
The way we build families is more dynamic than ever and looks different for everyone. Cofertility exists to honor that and offers a destigmatized, scalable approach for bringing egg donation and egg-freezing together. It’s our goal to fix the broken egg donation system.
Matching with an Egg Donor should be a positive experience. If you're looking for an egg donor — either due to infertility, cancer, a genetic condition, or not having eggs — you may already feel like the odds are stacked against you. The last thing you need is to feel like you’re “shopping” for a human who plays a critical role in your family-building journey. And we’ll never make it feel that way. We agree with ASRM that egg donor compensation can open the door for exploitation. Plus, a 2021 Harvard study found that 62% of donor-conceived adults felt the exchange of money for donor gametes was wrong, and 41% were troubled by the fact that money was exchanged around their conception. By allowing our donors to freeze their eggs as part of the process, our unique model honors everyone involved.
Lauren speaks to intended parents struggling with second infertility all the time at Cofertility, and it’s something her and her husband are going through right now on their journey to baby #2. It can be especially frustrating as it’s surprising and stressful, but it's estimated that nearly one-third of the women who experience infertility are impacted by it.
Favorite baby product or new motherhood product? What would you buy for someone who was currently pregnant or a new parent?:
The Snoo and taking Cara Babies’ Sleep Schedule
Who is Lauren?
Lauren Makler is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cofertility, a human-first fertility ecosystem rewriting the egg freezing and egg donation experience. Previously Lauren was an early Uber employee and founded Uber Health, a product that enables healthcare organizations to leverage Uber’s massive driver network in improving healthcare outcomes through patient transportation and healthcare delivery. After a rare disease diagnosis, Lauren’s fertility journey led her to believe that everyone should have the opportunity to freeze their eggs–and that there should be better access to egg donors. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their miracle baby girl.
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/cofertility/
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I’m Heidi, a Certified Birth Doula, and I’ve supported the deliveries of over one thousand babies in my career. On the Birth Story Podcast, I’ll take you on a journey through your pregnancy by providing you education through storytelling. I provide high-level childbirth education broken down to make it super digestible for you because I know you are a busy parent on the go. Plus, because I am so passionate about birth outcomes, you will hear from many of the top experts in labor and delivery.
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