Counting Your Eggs Before They Hatch: Donor Egg IVF
Going through infertility is a journey burdened with many unpleasant emotions, from devastating heartbreak, to anger, to feelings of failure. With all of the fertility options available now, it is possible for couples trying to conceive to feel hopeful again, but there is also a lot of confusion about newer treatments that can fulfill the dream of starting a family, especially donor egg IVF. Here is a brief overview of the steps involved in egg donor IVF, along with clarifying information about some common misconceptions.
Who benefits from donor egg IVF?
IVF (in vitro fertilization) using donor eggs is a procedure that allows women to conceive using eggs donated by another woman.
One misconception: Once a woman turns 40, there’s almost no hope for pregnancy.
Every woman is different, and there are many reasons couples have trouble conceiving. Some women get a surprise pregnancy well after they think their childrearing years are behind them. For most women, though, fertility begins to decline in their mid-30s and drops more precipitously after age 40. When a low ovarian reserve or early menopause are to blame for a woman’s infertility, donor egg IVF can provide the opportunity to experience pregnancy and build a family.
How does donor egg IVF work?
Step 1: When a couple looks into using donor egg IVF, they should talk through any feelings and lingering doubts about using a donor egg with a therapist. It is a fact that this method of assisted reproductive technology could bring a baby into a family, but the baby will not share the mother’s genetics.
One misconception: Parents feel that babies conceived with a donor egg won’t feel “theirs.”
After having longed for a baby and faced so many obstacles along the way, most parents feel their donor egg babies are completely “theirs.” The mother gets to experience pregnancy and feel the progress of the baby’s development. In fact, new research suggests that, similar to how a mother’s gestational diabetes can affect her unborn baby, the antibodies and experiences of a pregnant mother can affect her baby, regardless of the egg’s genetic DNA. This makes sense, considering that mothers and unborn babies share blood and nutrition.
Additionally, fathers can provide their sperm for insemination, forging a desired genetic link.
Step 2: Select a donor. Frozen egg banks make this easy, as couples can search databases of egg donors to find a match. These eggs have already been retrieved and frozen, so couples can count on a certain number of eggs to arrive at their fertility clinic within a week or two.
For those who prefer fresh donor eggs from a family member, friend or other local donor, it takes longer to secure eggs as the donor has to be screened, take hormones to produce extra eggs, and have the eggs retrieved. The donor and mother-to-be also take medications to synchronize their menstrual cycles so that the timing is right for the next steps. This can take upwards of six months, and there is no guarantee as to how many eggs will become available and be healthy.
One misconception: Egg donors are just in it for the money.
While they are compensated for the time spent undergoing somewhat invasive medical procedures, egg donors genuinely wish to give couples the chance to experience building a family. Additionally, donors are thoroughly screened for psychological, medical and genetic issues prior to being accepted as a donor.
Step 3: The eggs are ready for fertilization with help from the father or a sperm donor. If the donor eggs are frozen, the clinic will thaw them first. The eggs are cultured in the lab for a few days as they develop into embryos.
Step 4: The doctor selects the highest quality embryo(s) for implantation in to the mother, who takes medications in advance to help her uterus accept the transfer.
Step 5: The couple waits to see if the embryo has successfully implanted and takes a pregnancy test to confirm the results. During this waiting period, couples may experience the turmoil of familiar emotions: the anxiety of whether a treatment will work mixed with hope and trepidation. But for women who long to nurture a baby in the womb, using donor eggs can make this dream come true.
by: Heidi Hayes | CEO
Donor Egg Bank USA