Egg Donation is an Incredible Gift for Women Without Viable Eggs
Most people know what egg donation is, but very few realize they know someone who has used an egg donor to build a family. A lot of people view it as a cross between fertility assistance, since IVF is used for gestational surrogacy, and adoption, since you’re using an egg from another woman. Even though egg donation is one of the biggest breakthroughs in the fertility sciences, it’s taboo for many people. While people openly talk about IUI, IVF, and even surrogacy, they seldom discuss their use of an egg donation. Yet for so many people like gay couples, women who can’t conceive, and single men, donor eggs can be a gateway to parenthood.
Since it became a viable option in the 1980’s, egg donation has become a real game changer for infertility assistance. A woman is most fertile, with the best quality eggs before the age of 29. This is why most reputable egg donation agencies limit the age of egg donors to women between 21 and 29. After age 30, and especially after 35, egg quality deteriorates rapidly, even in women who are very healthy and in shape. Many women are putting off child-bearing until they are established in their career and have a partner they want to parent with, quite often this convergence doesn’t happen until after age 35 when their eggs are less optimal. Until donor eggs became a feasible option, women who couldn’t produce viable eggs would never be able to carry and give birth to a child. However, the pregnancy success rate with donor eggs is between 54% and 75% depending on the fertility clinic and egg donation agency used. When multiple IVF cycles with donor eggs are used, the chances of a woman becoming pregnant are close to 90%.
So, why are people not shouting about this wonderful procedure that can makes infertile women parents?
A lot of it, especially with women, has to do with what they’ve been already through. After years of testing and treatment for infertility, including IVF using their own eggs, women who still aren’t pregnant feel like failures. They feel that it’s a combination of failure, fear and age: their bodies have failed them, they fear they will never become parents because they waited too long to try to conceive. After beating themselves up about all that failure, they would like something to be “normal,” and not have to be explained. Egg donation isn’t obvious, like adoption can be. If not told something different, most people will assume a pregnancy in these women is the result of IVF using their own eggs. When you look at the list of famous women in their 40s who have given birth in the last several years, like Janet Jackson, Geena Davis, and Halle Berry, they never mention egg donation, but chances are at least one of these women used an egg donor. Since the chances of women in their 40’s getting pregnant, even when using IVF is slim – around 1 percent of later in life moms might considering using an egg donor.
When is egg donation the right option?
Most women beginning fertility treatment really want a child they are genetically related to, that’s why they’re spending money on fertility treatment instead of adoption. A pregnancy achieved by using an egg donor is as close as a woman without viable eggs will ever get to bearing her own genetic children. She can control the environment before birth, experience pregnancy, as well as childbirth and the child can be genetically related to her partner.
How do you decide if using an egg donor is right for you?
A woman without viable eggs should ask herself:
- How important is it that my child have a genetic connection to at least one parent? If it’s important, then the only option is donor eggs, either carried by the intended mother or a surrogate.
- How important to me that I experience pregnancy and childbirth? With egg donation, the mother’s experience is as close to a traditional conception and pregnancy as you can get. Also most people won’t know the baby being carried isn’t genetically related to the mother.
- How important is it that I control my child’s pre-birth environment? With adoption and surrogacy, you don’t have total control over the child’s environment before birth. However, you will if you use donor eggs and carry the baby yourself.
Egg donation is a wonderful addition to the services offered by fertility centers, it allows women to carry a pregnancy that doesn’t have viable eggs to become pregnant. Whether egg donation is the right option for you, it’s an option and a decision that should be based around your family building priorities.