Ravid Israel, Founder of Embie, on her Fertility Journey
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Ravid, founder of Embie, the only app specifically designed to track fertility treatment cycles.
Embie was created during my own fertility treatment journey. I used period and TTC trackers for years, but for some reason, when I needed to track my IVF cycles, there was no useful tool.
I couldn’t have been the only one that needed this type of support and knew that there was a problem to solve here.
It took me six full IVF cycles, a move abroad, and a lot of experimenting to finally get pregnant. After five IVF cycle attempts with a partner, I succeeded on my first donor cycle on my own, and my son is now due in late October!
Tell us about your path to pregnancy.
In 2012, just as I was turning 30, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer and the doctor told me that if I already had children, he would recommend a hysterectomy and that my cancer had an 80% chance of coming back.
Neither of those statements were true, but he instilled this fear in me, and from that point on, every decision I made around my romantic relationships and reproductive health were centered around this fear.
I considered freezing my eggs as a backup plan and went to a consultation with one of the most highly-regarded clinics in the U.S. The RE told me I was pretty and smart and that my cancer wasn’t one of the bad ones. Someone would marry me in the next couple of years, and I didn’t need to worry about it. We ran no tests.
Unbinounced to me, the greater threat to my fertility was the stage 4 endometriosis that was developing undiagnosed in my body for over ten years. I complained of pain, and we did find a “chocolate cyst” on my left ovary in my 20s, but doctors told me it was normal and would go away.
It didn’t, and at 35, still single, I had a huge endometrioma and two fibroids removed. I was still single because no one teaches you a class on how to manage infertility and the pressures it puts on a relationship—and decided to try to freeze my eggs again.
I traveled abroad to Israel to do my egg freezing cycle with an RE that was a close family friend two months post lap and myomectomy. It was a disaster. We discovered that my left ovary was no longer functional, and we only got two mature eggs out of nine follicles. I also got a bad pelvic infection and was hospitalized for six days.
I fell in love with the women’s reproductive health system in Israel. In six days, they had done more for my diagnosis and to attempt to save my fertility than years in the American health system. So, I decided to move there.
As I was prepping for another egg freezing cycle, they tested my AMH, which came back very low. My RE no longer recommended freezing eggs and said I would need to try to get pregnant now or freeze embryos.
And so the path to six IVF cycles began.
How did you care for your body while TTC and undergoing fertility treatments?
Having had a really bad experience with my egg freezing cycle, I was much more mindful of how I treated my body during full IVF cycles. I was on a non-inflammatory diet, took lots of supplements and herbs, did reflexology, acupuncture, and lots of self care.
This wasn’t my list from the start, but as I did more research, I added more things to the routine.
In the beginning, I did work out a lot, but as I learned more about my body during treatments, I realized that I needed to slow down. First, I started doing only low impact walking and swimming, and before my last and successful cycle, I stopped working out all together.
I did this because my endometriosis adhesions are around my right ovary (stuck to my uterus) and when I move my pelvic area often, it influences the environment around them. Working out created inflammation and stress, which impacted my egg quality.
How do you manage your endo and fibroids today?
We monitor every six months with an endo specialist and during treatments more often. Both endometriosis and fibroids thrive on estrogen, which IVF treatments increase.
I was scheduled for a lap for the endometriosis in May of 2020 if my sixth cycle didn’t work, but thankfully it did.
I have two growing fibroids, which have been feeding off the estrogen from my pregnancy. They are part of the reason I’m considered a high risk pregnancy. We measure them often to make sure they are not interfering with anything. So far, so good.
How has your experience with infertility changed your perspective on women’s health?
Before being diagnosed with infertility, I dealt with a handful of reproductive issues: fibroids, endometriosis, cervical cancer, and bartholin cysts. I really believed that my relationship and care from my OBGYN in the states was amazing.
Once I moved abroad, I realized quickly that their priority was not me. It was to delay or to do invasive surgeries, without telling me the impact it would have on my fertility later.
I didn’t know that I had to ask those questions, and no one ever asked me what I wanted. It’s clear that there’s a huge hole in educating women about their reproductive health.
So many health issues go undiagnosed for years and have a huge impact on your ability to conceive.
We need more education so women can advocate for themselves.
Is there a larger vision that keeps you going even when your motivation is down?
I used to be one of those women that made the vision board and wrote down in detail what I wanted to create for my life. But that vision actually limited me. It was a desire, but reality struck, and I had to make a lot of decisions that I could have never imagined making in my “vision.”
One thing that has always driven me and allows me to be a lot more fluid is purpose. Family is my purpose. What that family looks like has changed tremendously.
I’m a few weeks away from becoming a single mom to a little boy; the single part was never a part of the vision, but it doesn’t matter because now he is my purpose.
What is the Embie App, and how did your journey lead you to founding this company?
I’m a Type A personality. I like control. I like researching and knowing everything. When I started my first egg freezing cycle, I created an Excel sheet that kept track of everything related to my treatment cycle.
As I went through more treatment cycles, I added to that sheet and could suddenly predict what would happen. It helped shape my final and successful protocol.
Beyond my Excel sheet, I was using my calendar to set reminders and appointments as well as a traditional TTC app for symptoms and ovulation tracking.
It made me realize that while there are hundreds of apps for women trying to conceive naturally, there wasn’t one available for the women going through treatments.
That’s 20% of the population being completely ignored, and I knew I had to fix that.
What is your favorite Natalist product?
I learned about Natalist when I was diagnosed with MTHFR. It’s a genetic blood disorder which also makes it hard to digest certain vitamins, Vitamin B and synthetic folic acid being some of them.
Folate is a very important part of a baby’s development and when doing IVF, you’re asked to start taking it before conception. It’s also linked to a higher success rate of IVF. I found Natalist’s 5 MTHF folate and added it to my supplement regimen prior to starting my sixth cycle.
What advice do you have for other aspiring mamas?
There’s so much power in releasing your expectations and vision around what your family should look like and accepting where you are today.
With acceptance, you open yourself up to strength and possibilities for your families that may have not been there before. And while the outcome isn’t what you may have envisioned most of your life, it can still be a positive outcome.