Archive for the ‘Egg Donation’ Category

The Business of Modern Families – Nazca Fontes in Worth Magazine

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

ConceiveAbilities was recently featured in the June/July 2014 issue of Worth magazine. Nazca Fontes, ConceiveAbilities CEO, shared her motivation for founding ConceiveAbilities in 1996, explaining, “I thought that there could be a better level of support and education throughout the process.” She goes on to describe how the agency has grown and changed, expanding into the realm of surrogacy. Nazca is prominently featured on the front page of the article, “The Business of Modern Families,” and is proud to share her insights on the evolution of today’s family. Be sure to read the article for the full story. 

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Meet Team Baby at The Donor Egg Meeting

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014


ConceiveAbilities is pleased to be returning to The Donor Egg Meeting at Charleston Place Hotel in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. From March 6-9, hundreds of professionals will be attending the symposium focusing on the technology of oocyte donation and third party reproduction in ART. It’s an honor to be exhibiting at this prestigious event again, and we look forward to sharing exciting new details about our rapidly expanding egg donation and surrogacy programs.



In giving, the surprising ways we receive

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013


Tis the season to give. December 3rd has even been designated “Giving Tuesday” in social media circles – a reminder of the many charitable organizations who rely on our support but may get lost in the holiday shuffle.

We think about gifts on the regular this time of year – mostly the tangible kind that we battle the crowds for (or, blessedly, can now click and ship), wrap in pretty paper, and watch with our own anticipation as the recipient tears open. There is satisfaction in giving, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Whether it’s a physical gift, a donation, volunteering, or offering support, giving feels good. And there’s evidence to support that it’s good for us too! Studies are showing that giving actually boosts physical and mental health – things like less depression, higher self-esteem, lower stress levels, and greater happiness are all associated with giving through social support. Giving actually stimulates a pathway in the brain, releasing endorphins and creating what one study referred to as the “helper’s high.”

The truth in this is something we see every day through the gifts from our egg donors and gestational carriers. We always say there is no greater gift a woman can give, and they agree wholeheartedly. The gift of hope – and of life – is unlike any other. And what always amazes us is that these women say that in the giving, they also receive. The things they learn about themselves, their families, and the knowledge that they’ve helped another person in such an intimate way to achieve a dream is like nothing else.

While we can’t all be surrogates and egg donors, we all have gifts to give. In this holiday season, we encourage you to benefit from the helper’s high. And if one of those gifts is through the generous act of surrogacy or egg donation – ConceiveAbilities would be happy to help you through your journey!

A woman’s choice – vetoed

Thursday, August 15th, 2013

A California bill that would allow the sale of human eggs for research was vetoed this week by Governor Jerry Brown. It not only strips women of the right to make an educated decision about her body, but the medical community of the valuable opportunity to further stem cell and infertility research.

For people like us in the infertility community, it’s a double blow. Not only does it diminish our belief that women should have the right to make an informed decision about her body, but it prevents us from furthering necessary research in an area of medicine that is growing at an exponential rate.

Just last month we discussed a study that showed the majority of egg donors are motivated by altruistic reasons. Compensation doesn’t seem to change the reason women are choosing to go through the lengthy medical process related to egg retrieval, but we believe that it’s something they have earned. Considering men can receive compensation for donating their sperm to medical research through a much shorter, totally non-invasive process, it speaks more to the continued disrespect of women and their ability to make a decision about their bodies.

Patricia Bellasalma, California president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), accuses the governor of “believing that women are incapable of giving informed consent, incapable of contracting when money is involved. It’s a shame Jerry Brown doesn’t trust women.”

NOW is not alone in their support of the bill. Other women’s groups like Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, as well as The American Society of Reproductive Medicine, backed the exciting opportunity for more research.

Still others felt it was simply baiting low-income women. Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, said “People in need of money will take risks. Wealthy can buy; poor have to sell.”

This characterization of women is frustrating and disrespectful. Mark Sauer, MD, chief of reproductive endocrinology at Columbia Univeristy Medical Center, put it this way: “It sadly demonstrates the lack of understanding such individuals possess about how egg donation is performed in this country. They do undergo a lot of risk but it’s an acceptable risk. This is a 35-year-old medical procedure, and the safety track record is well-defined.”

To argue that this is a matter of safety is far too simplistic. A woman can do her research and see the potential risks for herself – allowing her to make the choice. We have to give women more credit and trust them to make their own educated decisions.

Study: Egg donors motivated by altruism

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

While the new wasn’t surprising to us at ConceiveAbilities, a recent European study showed that the majority of egg donors are motivated by altruistic reasons. The controversy regarding donor compensation is ongoing not only in Europe but even here in the US, where California is currently grappling over the decision to compensate women who donate their eggs for medical purposes. It seems like a non-issue considering the fact that these women are going through the exact same process requiring the same time and and effort as any other donor, and doesn’t change the reason most women are choosing to donate. They truly are motivated by the urge to help others.

It would be naive to ignore the personal benefit of compensation as a factor, but as the researchers concluded, almost half of all egg donors were ‘altruistic’ and wanted to donate specifically to help someone else have a child.

“Altruism is the main motivation why donors donate but financial compensation certainly helps persuade a number of donors,” according to study leader Professor Guido Pennings. More than 1,4000 donors across 11 European countries were included in the study. Donors over 25 and those with a higher level of education were generally more likely to donate for altruistic reasons alone, and only one-in-ten women donated specifically for financial reward.

Another interesting discovery? “The general donor profile from this study is someone who is well-educated, 27 years old, and living with a partner and child,” notes Pennings. “This does not fit the idea that most people seem to have of a poor student who donates for money.”

We firmly believe women deserve compensation for the time, dedication, and inconvenience required for the donation process. We also know first hand that egg donors are bright, mature, and empathetic individuals. It’s refreshing to see a study that highlights the generous nature in which egg donors give of themselves. To learn more about ConceiveAbilities’ egg donor program and to start an application for this incredible journey, visit us at

LGBT Parenting – what you need to know

Monday, June 24th, 2013

ConceiveAbilities understands that third party reproduction can be challenging for many reasons. The decision to work with an egg donor or gestational carrier is never an easy one – though as a single person or same sex couple, it may be a more direct route. Still, we recognize the unique process involved for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender couples and individuals. Because of our experience, we are adept at maneuvering through these issues.

Utilizing donor egg and/or gestational surrogacy can be a different process for gay men or lesbian couples due to the biological connection to the child. While men require both an egg donor and surrogate, women may only use one or the other depending on her fertility needs.

Surrogacy makes sense for many gay men because one partner can have this biological connection. If your state prohibits LGBT adoption, surrogacy is an ideal option. It guarantees you will be legally recognized as the child’s biological parent, and your partner may not even need to file for an adoption to secure parental rights. ConceiveAbilities provides a thorough list of attorneys experienced with the unique legal issues from state to state. It will help you determine the best route to affirm your rights and protect your family.

The American Fertility Association is a helpful resource for LGBT parenting information. Contact us for more details about our LGBT support and the options we can provide as you pursue your family building options. Also, if you are parent in searching for an egg donor in Colorado, be sure to visit our Colorado egg donor database page.

New study: ‘surrogate kids’ and emotional health

Friday, June 21st, 2013

As an agency, we place a major emphasis on emotional support for intended parents as well as their gestational surrogates and egg donors. It’s important for them to feel comfortable and supported in the process as they build – or play a key role in building – a family.

But what about the children who are born as a result of this unique partnership? We were intrigued by a new study in the June issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry that explored the mental and emotional health of children born with the help of a gestational surrogate or donated eggs and sperm.

Susan Golombok, a professor of family research and the director of the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge, led a team of researchers following 30 surrogacy families, 31 egg donation families, 35 sperm donation families, and 53 natural conception families until the children were 10. At the age of 3, 7, and 10, the children’s mother’s were surveyed about their perceived “adjustment.” Behavior problems like aggressive or antisocial behavior, or emotional problems like anxiety and depression were taken into account.

What their findings suggest is that children had more difficulty with the concept of being carried by a surrogate than not being biologically related to one or both of their parents. According to the research, no difference in behavior was found between the children conceived with donor egg/sperm and those conceived naturally. We found this especially interesting, considering the issue of disclosure is one intended parents through egg donation often grapple with the most. How do they explore this sensitive topic with their child? And when?

Major organizations in the infertility community, including the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and The American Fertility Association (AFA), have stressed the importance of disclosure. In fact, a 2004 Ethics Committee Report from ASRM stated that it “supports disclosure from parents to offspring about the use of donor gametes in their conceptions.” The AFA has also published guides offering suggestions on how intended parents can share and discuss third party reproduction with their children.

Many of the intended parents we work with seek guidance on the best way to do this, and the decision is ultimately a very personal one. It’s something the licensed mental health professionals at ConceiveAbilities are well-versed in addressing, and it’s part of what prompted our monthly support group for intended parents through gestational surrogacy. The opportunity to explore concerns about disclosure makes the concept less daunting, and gives intended parents the confidence to be open and honest with their child from the very beginning about his or her unique start.

Deb Levy, ConceiveAbilities’ Director of Surrogacy and a Licensed Professional Counselor, is herself the mother to two children through surrogacy. “I have opted to share their birth stories with my kids since they were very young,” she explains. “We were also very open about our fertility struggles with friends and family.”

For her children, surrogacy is very normal. “At one point they didn’t understand that it wasn’t the norm,” she laughs. “When my son was about four, he asked a pregnant woman about the baby in her tummy. I can’t even describe the look on the woman’s face when he asked her, ‘who’s is it?’”

Open discussion – even to the surprise of others – has never been a question in their family.

“As a mental health professional and mom through surrogacy, I feel confident in saying it hasn’t affected my children in the least – at least yet,” she says.

While the study has generated a lot of attention, we have doubts about the magnitude of its findings. It seems difficult to gauge the long-term emotional impact of surrogacy or egg donation on a child at the age of 3, or even 10. While it’s true that children may experience “identity issues” as they approach adolescence, attributing it to surrogacy seems like a stretch. This factor alone is an unlikely trigger if there has always been honest, age-appropriate discussion about it. We have to question when and how these children were told of their surrogacy beginnings. How was their initial curiosity addressed? The study doesn’t say. An open line of communication within the family is key – whether a child is conceived with the help of a surrogate and donor egg or not.

For more information about the monthly Intended Parent support group, please contact ConceiveAbilities

So you want to be an egg donor…

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

The decision to become an egg donor is not only one that offers to give an incredible gift – it’s one that can’t be taken lightly! We field many inquires from egg donors and always say that there are no silly questions. It’s important to do your research and make an informed decision that is best for you. A few of the most common questions we receive?

What about my privacy? 
Overwhelmingly, most donor matches are anonymous. However there are some cases when both parties – egg donor and intended parent – choose to meet one another.  We will work to maintain everyone’s privacy to the extent they wish while also working with those who are interested in a more open arrangement.  Some cases even allow future contact if both parties agree.

It is ConceiveAbilities’ policy to attempt to maintain your anonymity as well as that of the intended parents. Identifying details provided by you in your application will be deleted from information shared with the intended recipients. Likewise, identifying information about the recipient couple will be deleted from what is disclosed to you. Donors who carefully research agencies feel most secure with our level of privacy and security.

Why are egg donors compensated?
Egg donor compensation covers the time, effort, inconvenience, and high level of commitment necessary to accomplish an egg donation. The program places expectations on you as an egg donor to follow through and feels that the compensation egg donors receive should mirror the importance placed on your commitment and generosity.

What are my costs?
Along with egg donor compensation, the intended recipients pay the costs of the screening and the donation process. The premium and any deductible for the supplemental short-term accidental health insurance policy will also be paid by the intended recipients. You should be aware that donors receive a 1099 tax form at the end of the year for the compensation you earn. ConceiveAbilities withholds no tax. The only cost to you is a current pap smear and your local transportation.

What are the medications I must take?
The physician will determine what medications you will take. While ConceiveAbilities does not possess medical expertise, based on experience with donors, there are three medications or hormones most donors take. The first medication, called Lupron, prevents the donor’s hormones from causing follicle (the sac surrounding the egg) production and ovulation on their own. It also allows for the next medication to be more effective in producing multiple follicles. This next medication is FSH. Pure FSH (follicular stimulating hormone) naturally occurs in a woman’s body but in a smaller quantity than the dose donors usually take. FSH is responsible for the production of follicles (the sacs surrounding the eggs). Lastly, the donor will usually be given hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) that will stimulate her body to finalize the maturation of the eggs and induce ovulation. For detailed information, please review our Egg Donor Medications page.

Are these medications safe?
These are medications commonly used for the treatment of infertility. The use of the medications for fertility treatment and egg donation is very widespread throughout the United States and the world. This widespread use in the U.S. is the result of rigorous testing for effectiveness and safety by the scientific community and the FDA. Additionally, with approximately ten thousand cases of egg donation in the United States performed every year, and with the guidelines set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine at 6 donations per egg donor, the track record on safety is excellent. As with any medicine, there can be adverse side effects. During the screening consultation with a physician, you should inquire about all of the risks and potential side effects of the medications and medical procedures. We also encourage you to talk with your gynecologist about your desire to be an egg donor, to help you feel more comfortable and confident in your decision.

Is the retrieval process painful?
Every experience is different. Some donors go out to eat or shop the day of the procedure. Others take is easy for several days particularly if they are experiencing any uncomfortable cramping and bloating following the procedure. Often Tylenol and rest are sufficient to diminish these effects. The medical personnel can discuss their experience with you regarding discomfort following egg donation.

What are some things that will prevent me from being a donor?
The professionals involved in the screening process look very carefully at motivation, health and family medical history, emotional stability, and other factors. You can learn more at our Egg Donor Requirements page. Many factors are weighed, and often, it is no one thing that disqualifies a donor candidate. However, missing scheduled appointments without informing the professionals involved is actually the leading cause of disqualifying donor candidates. Due to the time sensitive nature of the procedures, the ability to keep to a schedule is one of the most important aspects of the egg donor program. Women who have a habit of making and breaking appointments are not qualified candidates. Please consider this point before making the overture to apply. Also, if you are looking to donate eggs in Colorado, please visit our Colorado egg donor requirements page.

If you feel ready to make the commitment to give one of the most incredible gifts one person can give to another, we encourage you to start an Egg Donor application with ConceiveAbilities!

Why the ethical debate?

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

“Embryos for Sale!”

With this headline from Newsweek and The Daily Beast splashed across the web this week, the ethics of embryo donation have been called into question. It all generated from an article that recently appeared in The New England Journal of Medicine regarding concern over a bank of cryopreserved embryos. The authors were two lawyers who determined that – legally and ethically – the practice of “selling embryos fills a need and should be viewed as acceptable.”

The author of The Daily Beast piece was alarmed by this conclusion and saw a more backhanded agenda, referring to the embryos as “not the happy leftovers from another couple’s quest to get pregnant,” but “created for the purpose of providing them to patients, who pay for the entire procedure.”

The fact is, these embryos are created from donated eggs and donated sperm. Egg and sperm donation is old news in the ever advancing world of infertility treatment. Informed consent on behalf of donors already exists and is not the issue, and if their consent is extended to the creation of embryos, then there is no controversy. Everyone is in agreement with what the article refers to as the “deliverables.”

An ethical debate here is unnecessary. This is a personal moral line of demarcation that everyone must determine from themselves. It may not be the the right decision for some, but as with other sensitive and very personal life decisions, it shouldn’t impact the choice for others.

As an agency enmeshed in the delicate process of alternative family building, we haven’t found this to be a common dilemma. Our experience with clients in this already challenging endeavor is that choice is paramount to the process. We doubt very much that intended parents would pursue the option of using banked embryos, as proven by the lack of traction toward already existing embryo donation programs. Intended parents would much rather be in the driver’s seat making decisions about their embryos, rather than leaving it up to scientists in lab coats to create their own subjective combinations.

NIAW Day 3 – The struggle to overcome

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013


Today, we’re sharing the journey of one intended mom’s journey through infertility. She describes her struggle to overcome the many obstacles and set backs, but also her eventual victory – she is now pregnant with twins! 


Two to five percent.


That was the chance I was given from my reproductive endocrinologist to be able to conceive using my own eggs. I can’t tell you how it felt to receive that phone call. I was in shock and devastated. I saw all the things I had dreamed about – birthday parties, holidays, weddings – vanish into thin air.


My husband and I had just sat down with the MD that morning and everything from tests and surgical procedures had gone well with no giant red flag. But that morning my labs were drawn to check my FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) level. My diagnosis was diminished ovarian reserve.


We decided to try IVF, knowing the odds were not in our favor. We had gotten pregnant on our own almost a year prior but I miscarried at 12 weeks. We had thought that since I conceived the first time we would have no issues. This, of course, was not the case. The IVF cycle only produced one fertilized egg and no pregnancy.


How could this be? I thought we had done all the right things. We waited until we were financially ready and in a good position to start our family, and now we were not able to. I felt like a failure. I saw everyone around me pregnant or already with children. I did not attend baby showers or kids’ birthday parties because I knew someone would ask (like they always do) when are you having children?


Infertility is a diagnosis that, in my opinion, is worse than other health issues. Why? Because there is very little treatment for it and it such a private matter to struggle with. Men may want to hide things in fear that people will think it is “his” malfunction. Women are usually more open with their struggles. Some women, not knowing what to say, will pacify you and say things like “it will happen when you least expect it” or “it only takes one.” There is very little recognition about infertility issues.


After the first IVF cycle failed, I realized I could keep beating my head against the wall, continue with increased dosages of medications and spend more money, or I could try something different. I began to research egg donor programs and eventually talked with my husband about using donor eggs. He is one of those secretive guys who doesn’t want anyone to know anything about our issues. I told him that the child would genetically be half him and half the donor, but I would still be able to carry the child/children. To my surprise, he said yes. The year had been hell for us and if there was any chance we could conceive a baby (even if it wasn’t genetically mine) he was for it. He just wanted us to be “normal” again. For a year, it felt that my whole life was about going to doctors, injecting medications, and taking tests that never yielded the result I wanted.


When we did decide that by using donor eggs we could drastically increase our chances of a baby, we had no idea where to turn. We discussed using a donor with our RE, who did have a donor program. But when they gave us a book of profiles, there were only 5 – none of whom I felt I had a connection with or who looked like me. I scouted out a few the RE recommended donor agencies and I was not happy. There are so many places with horrible reviews, and I even saw potential lawsuits against others.

And then, I found one company without any negative reviews and that had been in business for years. So I called ConceiveAbilities and spoke with Alicia. I cannot tell you how great it was to talk with or receive an email from someone available during the weekend or at night – I felt like the staff always went above and beyond to make me feel less anxious about the process.


I used their online database, which had a lot of women who looked like “normal” people and not someone using their modeling head shots. I wanted the impossible someone who looked like me, who was smart, and just a good person. A little hard to actually feel these qualities through the computer screen! We found a donor who shared similar characteristics like hair color, eye color and height. She has a college degree, which was important to me. We saw pictures not just of her but also of her family, which gave us an inside glimpse into how she was raised and her family life.


And this is where ConceiveAbilities works their magic. They were actually very informed about the donor I found, and advised me that yes, she would be a great match. I can’t say enough about my egg donor. I wanted to feel a connection with the person who would play such an important part of my life, This was very important, even if it is anonymous. I sent a card for her, and our case manager Kristin said, “that’s funny – your donor mailed us a card to send to you!” She even sent a card after her procedure. I could not have had this connection to my donor – which I think made this whole process so much more personal — if it was not for ConceiveAbilities. It is a lot of money to spend, and you are putting it into the hands of someone you will never meet, but ConceiveAbilities helped me find my dream donor. I am currently pregnant with twins.


Infertility is a nightmare that can take everything out of you physically, emotionally and financially. I am so happy that even though I may not have taken the path that I had originally intended, I am now back to my normal life and my dreams have come true. None of this would not be possible without my donor and ConceiveAbilities.