Will Baby Look Like Me? Common Questions: Egg Donation

Featured PostCouples facing infertility have many, many questions to confront, chief among them being “Why me?” and “What next?” But when other treatments have failed, egg donation is an option that allows couples to ask, “Could this really help?”

IVF

Here are five common infertility questions related to donor egg costs to become pregnant.

Who needs egg donation?

When couples have already gone through fertility treatments such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF) without success, trying IVF with a donor egg may be a consideration.  There are many reasons a woman may need donor egg, such as:

– Low ovarian reserve, meaning there simply are not very many eggs available in her ovaries

– Advanced maternal age

– Premature menopause

– Having taken medications to treat severe illnesses, which can affect fertility

How does a couple choose an egg donor?

Some people have a family member or friend in mind to be a donor. Other couples prefer to use an egg donor bank, which can provide a wider range of suitable options, as well as privacy for those who wish to keep the process anonymous.  Egg banks allow couples to search online for donors who match their selection criteria, such as hobbies, education, and appearance.

All donors must be screened medically, psychologically and genetically prior to donating eggs. Those who prefer a friend or family member must arrange to have this screening completed before they can continue in the process, while egg banks will have taken care of this mandatory screening in advance.

Egg donation

What is the difference between using a fresh donor egg and frozen donor egg?

A fresh donor egg is retrieved from the donor and immediately fertilized and transferred to the recipient mother, whereas a frozen donor egg has already been retrieved and frozen for future use. There are a number of differences between these options.

For fresh donor eggs, the donor must take medications that encourage her body to mature several eggs at once. Simultaneously, the donor and the recipient must take medications that align their menstrual cycles so that the timing is right for retrieval and subsequent transfer.  When the eggs are ready, the doctor retrieves them, fertilizes them (using the father’s sperm or a donor’s sperm), lets them develop into embryos (usually three to five days), and then implants one or two into the recipient mother.  The mother also takes hormones that makes her womb more receptive for the embryo(s) to implant.

With frozen donor eggs, the eggs have already been retrieved, so the timeline is condensed and the recipient has to take fewer medications.  Once the couple selects the frozen donor eggs, they are shipped to the fertility clinic. There, the clinicians will thaw the eggs and follow the same steps outlined above.

One important thing to remember when looking into frozen eggs is ensuring they have been frozen using vitrification, or flash freezing.  Older technology used a slow-freeze method for the eggs, which led to ice crystal formation within the egg cell and therefore poorer results. Now, vitrified eggs produce pregnancy at rates very close to those using fresh eggs.

How long does a cycle of IVF with donor eggs take?

With fresh donor eggs, the process can take approximately six months or more from donor selection to implantation. With frozen donor eggs, a couple can complete the cycle in as little as four weeks.

New Baby

Will the baby look or feel “mine”?

Experiencing grief that a child will not share mom’s genetic makeup is common, along with the many other tumultuous feelings surrounding infertility.  However, many couples that pursue egg donation are reassured that the father’s DNA will be shared.  (Interestingly, recent research suggests that children tend to inherit more of their father’s genetics than their mother’s anyway).  Couples may also select a donor who shares the mother’s physical traits.

Parents of donor egg babies will attest that their baby absolutely is theirs. For one, only those who have battled infertility can understand just how desperately these babies were wanted.  Additionally, unborn babies experience so much of the mother’s life, from nutrition to immunities to blood passing back and forth. And while taking his or her first look at mom, the little one will know only that mom is the one who has been protecting and comforting them all along.

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