This is Part 1 of a 10-part series entitled Conceiving Through Egg Donation. Throughout the series, I will be providing practical advice for those seeking to conceive through an egg donation IVF program.
Beginning to think about using donor eggs? Here is an introduction.
Conceiving with donor eggs occurs in three stages: the donor search (which can take anywhere from a few days to a few months), the donor screening (about six to eight weeks), and the IVF cycle (about four to six weeks). About 10,000 donor cycles are performed in the US every year, and the number continues to grow. As a commercial enterprise, egg donation only started in the early 1990s. Since then technology, regulations, and attitudes toward this practice have been constantly evolving. The medical aspects of IVF may be familiar to you, but you may not have a full understanding of the logistics when a third party becomes involved. This blog should provide a sensible guide to the process.
Most patients consider using donor eggs after going through a number of unsuccessful IVF cycles. You may have a diagnosis for your infertility, or you may not. Sometimes doctors just can’t tell why a patient isn’t getting pregnant. In these cases, egg donation is offered as the next, more advanced level in the long ART road. Since it often follows an extended period of struggle and disappointment, most patients don’t begin their search for an egg donor in an encouraged state of mind.
Try not to feel that you have wasted precious time in your previous efforts to conceive. Egg donation’s distinct advantage allows you to turn back the biological clock, since it is generally the age of the egg, not the uterus, which predicts results. Take comfort in the fact that egg donation is one of the most successful fertility treatments available right now. About one half of all embryo transfers from fresh donor eggs result in live births. That’s an amazing statistic. (For non donor egg, it ranges from about 37% to 10%, diminishing incrementally as maternal age increases.)
Take a look at your own clinic’s statistics to learn how many IVF cycles they do per year (donor and non donor, fresh and frozen) and what their success rates are. Compare their numbers to some other clinics in your area, as well as the overall statistics provided by the CDC. Remember that some of the better clinics take on more difficult cases, therefore success rates can be misleading. (SART data reports can be found on www.sart.org and the CDC Web site.) Of course, trust in your doctor is paramount, and you should feel comfortable asking him or her any questions about these statistical reports.
Just twenty years ago egg donation was inaccessible to the general public. It has since created thousands of dearly wanted children. But this success is achieved at a price, and not only a financial one. Everyone needs to reconcile these advantages in technology with their own sense of “family values” (for lack of a better term). No one can do this for you. You should be fully informed of the issues to consider along the way.