Do I Need a Donor Egg to Get Pregnant?

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Fertility issues can seem like a giant roadblock when you’re trying to build your family. Thankfully, treatments like IVF can provide the solution to many fertility issues. But what happens if you’ve done everything right and IVF still doesn’t work. Sometimes, despite the best medical technology we have today, a woman’s eggs are simply not viable. If this happens to be the case, it may seem like all the work you’ve done to have a baby is for nothing. But hope for the family you’re working for is not lost. Donor eggs are a wonderful option for women who, for whatever reason, may not be able to use their own eggs.

Issues with egg quality and quantity grow as women age. From the moment a woman is born, she has all the eggs she will ever produce in her life, and they quickly begin dying off as she ages. Every month approximately 1,000 eggs die. By the time a woman is 35 years old, only a small portion is left.  This decline occurs every month whether she ovulates or not, whether she starts her periods at 13 or 16, whether she has been pregnant several times, or whether she has previously been on birth control or not. As the quantity of eggs decreases, so does the quality of the remaining eggs, and this is why it gets harder and harder to get pregnant with age.  Fertility doctors call this diminished ovarian reserve.

When infertility is because of diminished ovarian reserve, using a donor egg is a solution that presents much higher odds for a successful pregnancy. Just as donor sperm can be used when there are issues with sperm count or health, a donor egg can be used to help aid in conception through IVF. In this process, a donor egg is fertilized with the patient’s partner’s sperm or sperm from the donor of their choice. The resulting embryo is placed in the patient’s uterus and she carries her baby herself, providing all the nutrients and care needed to bring her baby into this world. 

For women who are over 42 years old, chances of having a baby through IVF lowers to approximately 5%. If a healthy donor egg is used however, the odds of a successful IVF pregnancy can be as high as 70% or more. This is because most donor eggs come from young women who have a lot of healthy eggs. Fertility centers are very careful about who they use as donors in order to ensure that the eggs are in peak condition and the best they can get. 

Even though this option significantly increases the odds of a successful pregnancy, it is often the last on the list for infertility patients. The most common reason for this is public stigma. Despite other reproductive methods that use a third party being widely accepted (for example sperm donation and surrogacy), women who use donor eggs sometimes feel shamed or judged. 

So why is there a stigma around donor eggs? The answer isn’t exactly simple. In part, the fact that this method of conception is a relatively new practice contributes to people’s uncomfortability with it. For many of the fertility treatments that are widely accepted today, like sperm donation and surrogacy, there was an initial stigma that eventually petered out as people became more comfortable. As time went on, more patients were willing to share their experiences with it, including celebrities like Jimmy Fallon, Kim Kardashian, and Sara Jessica Parker who have been open about using a surrogate. This kind of honesty has helped pave the way for others to feel more comfortable and easier to accept. 

This will also happen with donor egg IVF. As people become more educated, the stigma will lessen. Opening people’s eyes to the beauty of building a family this way can help show them that it is not something to be kept secret and hidden away. It is not something to feel shame around. Helping to get rid of the stigma can help increase the chances of couples who may avoid using egg donation due to the negative attitude around it to instead feel comfortable to seek out the treatment as a solution. Using donor eggs is no different than using donor sperm. There is no need for the two treatments to be viewed differently or for one to be thought of as more acceptable than another.

At Reproductive Health and Wellness Center, we help people every day with donor eggs. We only work with the best agencies and egg bank facilities. We have specialists that will work with you to make sure you are educated and comfortable with donor egg IVF as well as other infertility treatments.  If you have questions about egg donation and whether or not it may be the solution for you, we have specialists who will work with you and talk you through everything you want to know! Give us a call today at (949) 516-0606 to learn more! 

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