Using an egg donor is a safe way for females struggling with infertility to get pregnant. Here are 10 things you need to know before starting your IVF journey
Things You Should Know About Using an Egg Donor to Get Pregnant
Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has provided females with health conditions leading to infertility, such as ovarian failure, with the opportunity to conceive and experience a healthy pregnancy. Obstetricians and gynecologists support frozen embryo transfer achieved through egg donation as a safe and successful way for infertile women to see a positive pregnancy test one day.
On this page
- Finding and choosing an egg donor takes time
- Psychological support is a must on your journey
- Egg donation is more common than you think
- You can choose the egg donation type
- Friends/family members may not be suitable egg donors
- Failed IVF cycle will be canceled
- The risk of birth defects is increased
- Your next children may be from different egg donors
- Lawyers need to be involved
- Your insurance may not cover egg donation
1. Finding and Choosing an Egg Donor Takes Time
Looking for a donor requires patience since it can become a long process. While there's no guarantee that the child will inherit the desired genetic traits when using a donor egg, it's still possible. Therefore, the couple should consider their preferences on various appearance characteristics. Such other aspects as the person’s religion or their ethnic background may also play a role in the choice. That's why finding the donor both partners are comfortable with can end up taking time.
2. Psychological Support Is a Must on Your Journey
Coming to terms with the need to be using an egg donor may be an emotional process. While finding out about the inability to have a biological child can be a different experience for different couples, make sure you really take time to reach peace and make a thought-out decision. Reach out to a therapist if you feel the need, and don't hesitate to ask your partner to join to get support as you go through the journey.
3. Egg Donation Is More Common Than You Think
Due to the effectiveness of assisted reproductive technology, the in vitro fertilization (IVF) method has become a go-to solution for women not being able to get pregnant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1.9% of annual live births in the USA are the result of ART (2018). This makes using donated eggs a frequent way to conceive for couples unable to get pregnant.
4.You Can Choose the Egg Donation Type
There are two types of fertilization material you can go for when using donor eggs for IVF, namely:
- frozen donor eggs
- fresh donor eggs
While the success rates for IVF pregnancies from each type of donation are almost similar, it doesn’t matter which ones to use. However, frozen donor eggs are faster to access, so this way, you'll start the in vitro fertilization process quicker. A fresh donor, by contrast, implies completing ovarian stimulation and going through the egg retrieval process, which will take more time.
5. Friends/Family Members May Not Be Suitable Egg Donors
Any egg donor has to go through the screening process and meet the selection criteria. Prior to using a donor egg of your relative or close person, they have to go through the following steps:
- Match the donor criteria
- Complete a donor interview
- Pass a psychological evaluation
- Go through the antral follicle count and examination
- Complete the infectious disease and genetic disorders testing
If a candidate is confirmed to be suitable for egg donation, they can become your egg donor. However, the fact that your donor egg comes from a genetically connected person does not affect the success rates of the procedure.
6. Failed IVF Cycle Will Be Canceled
Regardless of how devastating it may be, egg donors’ ovaries may not be producing as many donor eggs as the stimulation mediation intends them. In this case, the retrieval procedure required for IVF using donor eggs becomes impossible, and the IVF cycle gets canceled. Keep in mind that in case of a canceled cycle, you still cover the medical treatment and fertility treatment costs, although you may get a partial refund.
7. The Risk of Birth Defects Is Increased
Be aware that using donor eggs does not help prevent the risks involved in pregnancy. In fact, pregnancy with IVF poses a higher possibility of a birth defect of the child. The risk is 1.25 times higher when compared to the one at natural pregnancy. While the difference is not drastic, it is still there, and therefore should be kept in mind when the procedure in under consideration.
8. Your Next Children May Be From Different Egg Donors
Using an egg donor for the second time does not guarantee that the same person will be providing donor eggs. They may no longer be suitable or available for egg donation at the time of your next planned pregnancy. So it is better to consider how many children you are planning to have at the time of your first infertility treatment so that you can do more than one egg donor cycle to get as many frozen donor eggs as possible for future in vitro fertilization procedures.
9. Lawyers Need to Be Involved
Since using donor eggs involves many legal issues, the best way to protect yourself is by having a contract with all the parties involved, such as your fertility clinic and your live or frozen donor. The document should state the absence of the donor's parental rights over the child and list the actions intended parents are allowed to perform over the remaining material, such as to keep it as frozen donor eggs.
10. Your Insurance May Not Cover Egg Donation
Since you cover the costs involved in the IVF procedure, you may eventually find yourself in a challenging financial situation. To relieve the stress, clarify whether your insurance plan covers the IVF cycle, which is helpful compensation if you're using an egg donor for fresh eggs.
These are the most important things patients tend to be unaware of before starting IVF, based on years of the author’s professional experience as a reproductive specialist. But being familiar with all the aspects of this fertilization method is key to a safe and healthy pregnancy.
Frozen embryos transfer for IVF is an effective assisted reproductive technology that obstetricians and gynecologists recommend to infertile women. But to have a healthy pregnancy, you should be familiar with all the details the process may involve. With this list of 10 facts about donated eggs for ART, you now have a bigger picture to refer to when thinking of assisted conception.
M.D., IVF specialist, gynecologist, reproductive endocrinologist, expert of ultrasound diagnostics.