Donor Eggs Make Pregnancy Possible
In the US, 1 in 5 couples struggle to start or grow a family due to infertility. While there are helpful options like hormone medication and lifestyle changes, some couples need advanced treatment. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is the most effective form of assisted reproductive technology (ART) for patients with severe or unexplained infertility. However, if the patient is older or egg quality is low, IVF may not be successful. In this case, the doctor may recommend using donor eggs to increase the chances of pregnancy.
What is IVF?
In vitro fertilization is a multi-step process that helps individuals or couples with severe infertility troubles get pregnant. The approach combines a sperm and egg sample to create viable embryos outside the body. IVF starts with the extraction of eggs from the ovaries. Before this procedure, the woman must take hormone medications to increase egg production. Hormone medication is also necessary to prepare the uterine lining for the embryos. After the eggs are removed, an embryologist combines the eggs with sperm samples in a laboratory. In the following days, the embryos develop. The fertility team then implants one or more viable embryos into the uterine lining and tests for pregnancy after 14 days. IVF sometimes requires multiple cycles before a live birth occurs.
The addition of donor eggs
For many people, IVF is sufficient to achieve a pregnancy, but for some couples, the process can fail repeatedly. In this situation, the doctor may recommend the use of donor eggs. The donor eggs route is usually best for women with premature ovarian insufficiency (POI), perimenopause, removal of the ovaries, or poor IVF response. Same-sex relationships, poor embryo quality, and concerns about passing on a genetic condition can also prompt the use of donor eggs. The egg usually comes from a donor bank or a family member.
What do the numbers say?
On average, IVF has a 21.3% success rate for women under 35 and a 25% success rate with younger patients typically faring slightly better. Success rates can vary for a variety of reasons including the clinic, patient health and number of IVF cycles performed. Although pregnancy is possible with regular IVF, success isn’t guaranteed. IVF performed with donor eggs has an even higher success rate of over 50%. Donor eggs are typically from younger donors and of better quality, resulting in higher chances of pregnancy.
Improving results with PGT
Although switching between personal and donor eggs increases the chances of IVF success significantly, preimplantation genetic testing (PGT) can help further. With PGT, the fertility clinic can use a sample of the egg and sperm to perform a genetic test that looks for hundreds of possible abnormalities before transfer. This extra step takes longer but ensures the healthiest embryo is used, increasing the chances of a successful pregnancy.
Should you consider donor eggs?
In vitro fertilization is the best fertility treatment available, especially for people struggling for months or years to conceive. However, statistics show that using a donor egg can significantly improve the chances of pregnancy. There are pros and cons to using donor eggs. A common concern is the child is not genetically tied to the mother. However, donor eggs are helpful when the intended eggs are no longer viable, but the desire to grow a family remains strong. With donor eggs and IVF, pregnancy is possible.