More than 70 percent of women older than 45 who try assisted reproductive technologies (ART) such as in vitro fertilization (IVF) use donor eggs to try to conceive a child. Over 8,000 babies are born in the United States each year to women of all ages as a result of egg donation and ART. And with advances in egg-freezing technology, using donor eggs for fertility treatment is likely to become even easier.
Egg donation agencies and egg banks are now found throughout the United States. At an egg bank, donor eggs are collected and frozen for purchase, similar to the way a sperm bank operates. Some fertility clinics have even started their own egg banks.
But many clinics still provide ART treatments using “fresh” (nonfrozen) donor eggs, which means the reproductive cycles of both donor and recipient are synced, and eggs are produced and used right away.
Donor embryos – which are always frozen – can also be used with ART. Many fertility clinics and embryo-matching agencies have programs that offer frozen embryos donated by couples who have a surplus after completing ART treatment.
Why use donor eggs?
You may consider donor eggs with IVF for many reasons, including the following:
- Diminished ovarian reserve
- Premature menopause
- To reduce the chance of passing along a genetic disease to your children
Before receiving an egg donation, you will undergo extensive medical testing to ensure that you are healthy and capable of sustaining a pregnancy. The egg donor will also undergo intensive medical and psychological screening. Professional counseling throughout the egg donation process can be very beneficial to help you and your partner deal with any issues that may arise.
What about frozen donor eggs?
Now, through frozen donor egg banks, couples can shop online in the same way one would shop online for sperm. Egg freezing allows a donor to complete the screening process, begin a medicated cycle to retrieve her eggs and have those eggs frozen and ready to use by a recipient patient. The database for a donor egg bank may also be broader, allowing for more choice in the donor selection process. Ask your doctor if frozen donor eggs may help you get pregnant.
When the chances of conceiving a baby on your own become slim, egg donation can provide you with a wonderful alternative to help you achieve your dream of having a baby.