How to Enter an IVF Contest or Lottery

Person being chosen from a screen
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Some fertility clinics hold contests that patients can enter to win a free IVF cycle. These contests usually require entrants to create a video or write an essay, poem, story, or blog post centered on a particular theme. Or, the contest may ask entrants to share their story in an emotionally compelling way. Winners may be selected by public vote, the fertility clinic’s staff, a committee not associated with the clinic, or some combination of these.

Other IVF contests are more like a lottery. For example, attendance to a particular event (like an informational session at a clinic or a fertility trade show) would get you an entry. Then, a winner is chosen at random.  

If you're interested in entering a contest, arm yourself with information first. Then, take care to protect yourself as you move forward.

Consider the Ethics of IVF Contests

There’s some debate on whether these contests—especially those that ask infertile people to submit their stories—are ethical.

Those who oppose these contests argue that they exploit vulnerable people, using their stories as fodder for marketing campaigns. Supporters of IVF contests argue that they offer couples who couldn’t otherwise afford an IVF cycle a chance to conceive.

They also claim that the stories shared as part of the contest are forms of infertility advocacy. They get infertile people “out of the closet” and spread infertility awareness.

If you’re considering entering an IVF contest, the only thing that matters is your opinion on these contests. If you don’t have any ethical issues with the idea of an IVF contest, and you’re aware and comfortable with the fact that your story may be used to market a particular fertility clinic or product, then you should go ahead and give an IVF contest a try.

Be Cautious With Personal Information

Before you share information online, make absolutely sure the contest is reputable. Scam IVF contests have been used to commit identity theft and steal money via “entry fees.” Ask yourself:

  • Is this contest connected to a known and reputable fertility clinic? These contests are typically created to market a particular clinic or fertility product. If you can't tell obviously who's benefiting from the contest, it's likely a scam.
  • Does the website look professional? Is the contest site directly connected to a known fertility clinic’s website?
  • How did you find out about the contest? If it was through a post in a fertility forum, or an unfamiliar email, proceed with great caution.
  • Are you being asked for personal information? Asking for an email address or phone number is normal. If the contest asks for credit card or bank information, walk away!

If you have any doubts, call up the clinic said to be associated with the contest and ask first if the contest is legit. Also, make sure you check that the fertility clinic involved in the contest is real (and not an imaginary "clinic" invented to scam people).

Research the Clinic and Treatment

Just because it’s a free cycle doesn’t mean you should take it blindly. Look into the fertility clinic just as carefully as you would if you were paying yourself. Is this a clinic you would have considered if they weren’t offering a free cycle?

Also, be sure that the treatment being offered is appropriate for you. If you need full IVF, and the contest is only for mini-IVF, then you shouldn’t enter. If you need a gestational carrier or gamete donor, make sure the contest includes these kinds of cycles. (The contest will probably not pay for the carrier or donation costs, but the basic IVF may still be “free.”)

All of this should be explicitly laid out in the rules. But if you’re unsure, call the contest sponsors and find out what’s covered, what’s not, and what you can pay for on top of the free cycle, if you win. 

Determine If You Qualify

Do you need to live in a particular area? Are there age limits on the contest? (Some don't allow women over 40 to enter.) Can you enter if you have insurance coverage for part of the IVF treatment?

Some contests may also limit what kind of infertility you have. You may be disqualified from entering if you already have any children at home or have secondary infertility.

Make Sure You Can Afford to Win

When clinics offer a “free IVF cycle,” they rarely mean all the IVF expenses are free. In most cases, it would be more honest to call it a discounted IVF cycle. Some contests cover more expenses than others. Fees you may need to pay yourself include:

  • Travel expenses, which can really add up if the clinic isn’t nearby
  • Preliminary testing and consultation
  • Fertility drugs, which can add up to thousands of dollars in some cases
  • Anesthesia costs
  • Anything that isn’t considered “basic” IVF, including assisted reproductive technologies like ICSI or assisted hatching
  • Monitoring of the cycle
  • Embryo freezing and storage, which may or may not be covered by the contest, or may be covered for only a limited time

Make sure you have the money to cover what isn’t included in the "free" cycle. Otherwise, you may need to forfeit your prize.

Also, be sure that winning won’t cost you more than paying on your own. If the clinic isn’t nearby, travel expenses and time off work may make the “free” cycle too expensive after all.

Be Willing to Participate in Publicity

Carefully read the fine print when entering. Even if you don’t win, your entry may be used to market the clinic.

If you do win, you may be required to speak to the media. You may need to agree to be photographed or videotaped before, during, or after your IVF treatment. Very emotional moments may be filmed and shared publicly. If you're not comfortable with this, the contest may not be right for you.

Follow the Rules

How disappointing would it be to work hard on a video or essay entry only to be disqualified? Read the rules and regulations carefully. Make sure you meet video length and essay word count requirements, and mention the name of the clinic in your submission if that's required.

Also, be sure to submit your entry properly. You may be asked to email it, post it on a blog, or write it as a comment on Facebook. You may need to upload your video to a particular website. Every contest is different, so read those rules!

Protect Your Feelings

If you don’t win, it doesn’t mean your story wasn’t heartbreaking enough. Just about every infertility story is heartbreaking. Unfortunately, not everyone can win.

Try not to take the loss personally. If not winning would add significantly to your heartbreak, it may be best not to enter.

By Rachel Gurevich, RN
Rachel Gurevich is a fertility advocate, author, and recipient of The Hope Award for Achievement, from Resolve: The National Infertility Association. She is a professional member of the Association of Health Care Journalists and has been writing about women’s health since 2001. Rachel uses her own experiences with infertility to write compassionate, practical, and supportive articles.