There are a lot of common myths about infertility, surrogacy, and egg donation floating around. So expert Missi Lockwood, VP of Operations at Fertility Source Companies, is here to clear things up.
Vice President of Operations, Fertility Source Companies
How can we improve the conversation surrounding fertility struggles in 2021?
While the conversation around infertility has improved, there is still work that needs to be done. One in eight couples have trouble getting pregnant so chances are that someone you know has fertility struggles. By discussing these struggles more publicly, we can increase people’s understanding of how prevalent fertility struggles are in the United States and make it less of a taboo subject.
I am asked occasionally about my partner and my plans on having another child. We suffered a miscarriage in July 2020, and while some people choose to be more private during their struggle, I’ve made a point to be open when someone asks. My usual answer is, “We had a miscarriage six months ago and we’re waiting for the green light from my doctor to start trying again.” My intention is not to make the person uncomfortable but rather get him or her thinking about avoiding questions that can be considered very personal to others. A good train of thought for those curious is not to ask at all, but rather wait for your loved one to offer the information on their own.
What does the future look like for bettering financial access to those experiencing fertility challenges?
The majority of insurance policies do not cover fertility treatment even though infertility is classified as a disease. More and more employers are starting to offer a fertility benefit for employees. While it started at large companies such as Apple and Facebook, the future is for all employers to offer this benefit as part of their full compensation package until insurance companies get up-to-speed and understand the importance of this vital coverage.
With regards to surrogacy, what factors are most important to consider during the decision-making process?
There are many surrogacy agencies to choose from so it can be a daunting task to research who to work with. Weigh the pros and cons of attorneys, mental health professionals, and escrow being held in-house rather than a separate entity.
Another consideration is the surrogate’s location. You may be led to believe that only California is acceptable, but if you broaden your requirements to all 46 states that recognize gestational surrogacy, you can vastly increase your options when deciding on who will be your surrogate. The nuances of each state are reviewed with you in detail during the legal process of the journey.
What are the most common myths about egg donation?
Egg donors are motivated only by money. The vast majority of egg donors have a strong desire to help others create a family. For them, being part of someone else’s story is an incredible, fulfilling experience. Women who are interested in egg donation solely for money are weeded out by the psychological evaluation and other checks and balances during the screening process. Although egg donors are compensated for their time and effort, money is rarely the primary motivation.
Egg donors are not properly screened. Prior to the medical testing stage, egg donors are thoroughly counseled on the donation process, obligations, and risks involved. Well-screened egg donors have carefully considered their decision and are ready to participate when an intended parent chooses them. In addition, fertility practices must abide by strict FDA guidelines regarding eligibility of a donor. Any type of red flag in the FDA questionnaire or test results will prevent a donor from continuing in the process and could be disqualified indefinitely.
Egg donation is 100 percent anonymous. With the advent of at-home DNA test kits, egg and sperm donation can no longer remain completely anonymous. Even if a donor does not do the test themselves, with enough of the population using the ancestry kits, it is easier than ever to be linked to a distant relative. Full disclosure of this loss of anonymity is prudent for donors and recipients alike.