Whether you are just starting out and trying to figure out what it might look like for you to use donor eggs to have a child or you are just learning more about the process, this post is for you.
Using donor eggs doesn’t have a straight answer. I can’t tell you to do this, this and this and it will all work out. But I can share my insights and information with you to help make the process a little easier. There are lots of different ways you can go when you choose to use donor eggs to build your family. To help, I thought I’d break down some of the options.
In all cases, typically your doctor will work with you on whether using donor eggs is the next best step. Sometimes people are advised to use donor eggs because of their age, a diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve, early menopause, or low AMH, to name a few. For me, I had very low AMH and after three unsuccessful IVF cycles with no embryos left to freeze we determined that my egg quality was the reason why we were not being successful.
On the blog today I want to share with you some things to think through as you start to make this decision.
Known Donor vs. Anonymous Donor
I did a deep dive on this topic in my post called We Used an Anonymous Donor so I’m not going to go super deep here. I will share a few things though. A known donor means using eggs from someone you know (a sister, cousin, friend, etc.) or someone who is open to staying in contact with you and any future children. You know how to contact the donor, your future child may interact with this person and would have access to any new medical history and/or half siblings from the very beginning.
For ID at 18 donor, your donor agrees to release their identity to your child when they turn 18 years old. You, as the intended parent, will get basic information about the donor – their age, their ethnicity, education, health history, and depending on where you go to get your eggs you may get baby photos and/or photos of them now.
I am not putting any information here about anonymous donor options because donor conceived people have been very clear that anonymous donation is not ethical and is not fair to them. I agree 100%. Knowing what I know now, I believe children conceived via donor conception should know who their donor is, how to contact them, how to get in contact with any half siblings and have access to their medical history.
How do I find donor eggs?
Your clinic may have a donor egg program – some clinics offer a donor egg program that you can participate in. They recruit and screen egg donors and then you work through them for the donor’s cycle. Sometimes you are entitled to all the eggs from that donor’s cycle, other times they will do split cycles where two families split the eggs retrieved from the donor. Each clinic is a little different, so it is recommended you speak to the Donor Egg Coordinator at your clinic (or another clinic you are interested in using) for more details.
There are also donor egg banks that are third party organizations who help supply donor eggs. These organizations typically offer packages of donor eggs (6, 8, 10 eggs) and often the donor’s eggs are split between multiple families. These organizations offer both frozen and fresh options. Donor Egg Bank USA is one that I’ve worked with and recommend.
One of my favorite options for finding donor eggs is GoStork. GoStork is the only fertility marketplace where intended parents find, compare and connect with top fertility providers. We have over 10,000 egg donors (from many different egg donor agencies combined) all in one easy-to-use platform. And, GoStork is 100% free for intended parents to use.
Is therapy required to use donor eggs?
Many clinics require anyone using donor eggs to go to at least one therapy session with a trained mental health therapist. In my opinion, this step in the process is the most important step and, if your clinic does not require it, I would recommend you still do it. Using donor eggs brings up many questions and feelings that shouldn’t be ignored. Choosing to use donor eggs is just that – a choice – and it is important for it to be an informed choice. A session with a trained therapist can help you start to unpack some of these questions.
Whether a session with a therapist is required or not, finding support for your mental health during this process is key. Our Reproductive Endocrinologists are amazing at helping us get pregnant but they do not have the expertise around third party reproduction (like how to talk to your kids about it, how to get comfortable using donor egg, etc). I always tell people I talk with to find a therapist and a coach (like me, a donor conception coach) who can help you navigate the emotional aspect of using a donor.
What is a donor egg cycle like?
For you, the intended parent, a donor egg cycle is very much like a frozen embryo transfer (FET). You will work with your clinic to get your medication protocol and it will be meant to prepare your body to receive the transferred embryo. For me, it was birth control to quiet my ovaries and then about a week of shots, ultrasounds and bloodwork to make sure my lining was thick and ready for implantation.
The embryology lab will take your donated eggs and fertilize them with your spouse’s sperm (or donor sperm if you are going that route) and they will create embryos. You will get the same updates you would get as if they were your own eggs. Depending on your lab they typically provide a day 1 and a day 4 update. You will then go and do an embryo transfer. Then, you will have your two week wait to see if the embryo implanted and you achieved pregnancy.
What are the success rates for donor egg IVF?
Just like with all fertility treatments, no procedure is a guarantee of success. However, success rates for donor egg IVF based on United States data are approximately 50%. Each clinic publishes their success rates – some are higher than others. This is because each clinic uses different technologies, protocols, etc. Success rates are just part of the story though. Your personal diagnosis or reasons for why your doctor is recommending this path, plus your mindset and excitement about donor eggs working for you all play into success.
What other questions do you have about donor egg cycles? Email me and let me know!