Who needs donor eggs?
Hearing that you may need donor eggs to get pregnant may cause a wide range of emotions for you and your partner. But you may be surprised to hear how many people are in the same situation for various reasons.
Here at Midwest Reproductive Center, we see hundreds of couples each year that benefit from the use of donor eggs.
Dr. Dan Gehlbach shares situations that will necessitate a donor egg, or oocyte.
Women faced with age-related infertility (decreased egg Quality and egg quantity)
The most common reason women use donor eggs is an age-related problem. Despite suggestive trends in popular media culture, achieving natural pregnancy after the age of 40 is difficult for most women. Women are born with a finite number of eggs and as we age, the number and quality of the eggs remaining will begin to decrease.
The quality and quantity of your eggs will decrease as you age
As egg quantity begins to drop, the chance to ovulate successfully each month also decreases. As women move toward menopause, some monthly cycles may not result in the release of an egg for fertilization.
Along with a decrease in the quantity of eggs available for ovulation, also comes a decrease in egg quality and increase in the risk of miscarriage and chromosome mutations, such as Trisomy 21 or Down’s syndrome. The chance of a successful IVF cycle using your own eggs after age 40 is substantially lower than women in younger age groups. When trying to get pregnant on your own with a natural conception cycle after the age of 40, there is a five percent chance of getting pregnant each month.
Under 35 you have about a 20 percent chance every month to conceive on your own. Over the course of a year you have about an 88% chance of conceiving a baby.
Women with a history of past failed IVF cycles
Failure to produce eggs and ovulate while on fertility medications may also indicate that a donor egg cycle is the best option. Failed IVF cycles can be emotionally difficult to deal with, but may open doors to donor eggs.
A failed IVF cycle includes:
- A cycle of fertility medication that produces few or no eggs
- Low quality embryos resulting in miscarriage or non-pregnancy
- PGD testing results suggesting no normal embryos obtained
Women experiencing premature ovarian failure
Age is not the only determinate of when donor eggs may be needed. For some women, the ovaries fail prematurely, known appropriately as premature ovarian failure. Patients in premature ovarian failure reach a menopausal state far earlier than expected for their age group.
Once in a menopausal state, the ovaries no longer function normally or produce eggs. In these cases, a donor egg may be the only option to achieve motherhood and experience pregnancy.
Carriers of inheritable genetic diseases and known genetic illness
Donor eggs may also be used in other special circumstances. For example, a woman who carries a known genetic mutation or genetically-linked disease may choose to turn to a donor oocyte to avoid passing the disease on to her baby.
Women with the following genetic diseases may benefit from donor eggs:
- Cystic fibrosis
- Sickle cell
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- Other single gene defects
Donor eggs can be obtained through a known donor, such as a friend or sister, or from an anonymous donor. Anonymous donors are meticulously screened for acceptance into the donor oocyte program at Midwest Reproductive Center before becoming eligible for selection by patients.
Detailed information about the donor, such as appearance, personality traits and educational background, will be available to you to assist in selecting the perfect egg donor.
Dr. Gehlbach and the staff at Midwest Reproductive Center are dedicated to assisting you through the process of utilizing a donor oocyte and making your dreams of parenthood a reality. Contact us to learn more about oocyte donation.