According to the CDC, about 12% of all IVF cycles in the U.S. involve eggs retrieved from a donor. Donor-egg IVF has the highest success rate of any fertility treatment, which is why more families are turning to egg donation to build their families. What are some of the reasons a person or couple would need donor eggs? Read on to find out.
Infertility due to low ovarian reserve
As the average age of starting a family continues to increase, more and more women are facing the reality that we’re constrained by the number – and quality – of our eggs. Since females are born with all of the follicles we will ever have, the pool of waiting follicles is gradually used up. Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) is the medical term for low egg supply which is often associated with poor response to IVF. It happens to all females as we age, but can happen early due to disease or injury.
The good news is, your age when you get pregnant is not as important as the age of the eggs with which you get pregnant. That means your chances of success getting pregnant, no matter your age now, is better with younger donor eggs.
Repeated IVF failures with own eggs
IVF does not work for everyone. For those who have had low response to ovarian stimulation, embryo quality issues, fertilization issues, and/or implantation failure, donor eggs can increase the chances of success.
Infertility due to recurrent miscarriage
In addition to the quantity of eggs declining, after the age of 35, it is more common for eggs to begin to accumulate mutations, which can lead to a higher risk of miscarriage. When using donor eggs from a qualified donor, the egg quality concerns are nearly eliminated. In fact, the live birth rate is higher – and the miscarriage rates are lower – for women using donor eggs.
For any individual or couple without working ovaries (sex male couples, transgender women, etc.) – egg donation coupled with one partner’s sperm (or sperm from an egg donor) is a viable path to parenthood. Between 2 million and 3.7 million children under age 18 have an LGBTQ+ parent, and 25-50% of transgender individuals are parents. Read more in LGBTQ+ Family-Building Resources.
There are some cases when a person or couple carries a hereditary genetic disease that can be transmitted to the offspring and cannot be detected by preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD). To decrease the risk of passing on the genetic abnormality to offspring, these families often pursue egg donation.
Pew Research claims that the number of single fathers — both gay and straight — has increased about ninefold since 1960, from less than 300,000 to more than 2.6 million in 2011. For single males using donor eggs, a gestational carrier would also be needed for the pregnancy.
People without ovaries
For people born without ovaries, or for those who have had their ovaries surgically removed, egg donation can help them become parents. Some people without ovaries are still capable of carrying a pregnancy without difficulty through donor eggs.
Cofertility is a human-first fertility ecosystem rewriting the egg freezing and egg donation experience. Our Family by Co platform serves as a more transparent, ethical egg donor matching platform. We are obsessed with improving the family-building journey — today or in the future — and are in an endless pursuit to make these experiences more positive.
Meera Shah, MD, FACOG, is a double board-certified OBGYN and reproductive endocrinology and fertility specialist at NOVA IVF in Mountain View, California. She is a Founding Medical Advisor at Cofertility. Dr. Shah has authored numerous research articles on topics ranging from fertility preservation, pregnancy loss, reproductive genetics, and ethnic differences in IVF outcomes. Her medical practice incorporates the highest level of evidence-based medicine and the most cutting edge technologies to optimize outcomes for her patients. Dr. Shah applies this approach to her work with Cofertility, ensuring that Cofertility remains up-to-date on latest medical advancements and research in third-party reproduction and reproductive endocrinology in general. When Dr. Shah isn’t busy working with her patients at NOVA IVF, she enjoys playing pretty much any sport, learning new piano pieces on YouTube, and spending quality time with her husband and three boys. You can find her on Instagram providing fertility-related advice and education at @dr_meerashah.
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