For many couples, being infertile no longer means having to go through life without children. Modern science and continued research in this direction has helped millions of couples all over the world become parents to a healthy child.
Even issues that were once thought to make it impossible to conceive a child can now be overcome. One such female fertility problem is having a lack of eggs available for fertilisation.
What is Egg Donation
So what is a woman to do if her eggs have been found to be of poor quality or low quantity? Using an egg donor can significantly increase your chances of pregnancy.
Compared to a your own eggs, using donor eggs are typically a better option when you do not have a very good ovarian reserve.
Ovarian reserve is the quantity and quality of eggs present in a woman's body and this number differs for from every woman. In some cases, in spite of a high number of follicles, a woman may not have her eggs mature due to issues like premature ovarian failure.
Other women may have eggs that are incapable of being fertilised or implanting on the uterine wall due to structural defects.
On the whole, donor eggs may be a better option when:
- A woman has irregular periods
- Premature ovarian failure due to genetic or auto-immune disorders has been diagnosed or has occurred due to radiation therapy or artificial removal of the ovaries
- A woman is over 40 and is going through or has already gone through menopause
- There has been no not response to fertility drugs
- There is a high level of FSH in the blood (FSH is a hormone that stimulates follicles to mature into eggs. If its level is too high in the blood, it signifies fewer eggs present in the body.)
- A woman cannot conceive in spite of repeated IVF cycles
- There is a risk of transferring genetic disease, like haemophilia, to the child from the mother
Doctors recommend that if a couple is opting for donor eggs, the mother should undergo a detailed medical analysis to check whether her body is suitable for pregnancy or if she is at a health risk. This particularly becomes important for women aged 40 years or more.
The uterus is also checked for deformations such as fibroids and scarred tissues that may not allow the egg to implant.
The decision of using an egg that is not yours is a difficult one. The choice of the donor, her being known or anonymous, the ethical or religious aspects, the choice of telling the child, the involvement of relatives and friends and most importantly the parents' firm will to use donor eggs are some aspects of the issue that have to be dealt with.
Psychological counselling can be very helpful for couples in this regard to make a concrete decision.
Selection of Donor
Choosing a donor is a crucial aspect. She might be a family friend, relative or a person known to you. There are also many organisations and online sites that provide a list of donors who are willing to donate eggs.
If you are already attending a fertility clinic, they too may have a pool of egg donors from which you can choose. Some couples have also successfully advertised for donors, though this may not be a safe approach, as the personï¿½s background cannot be sufficiently verified.
Depending on how you locate your donor, the donor may remain anonymous. For instance, if your infertility clinic offers an egg donor program, you will likely be able to read about a donor's health history, physical traits, education level, possibly profession and other general information.
However, you will not learn the donors name, address or any other information that will allow you to identify them.
In general, women between the ages of 18 and 35 who are physically healthy, non-smokers, with no hereditary or sexually transmitted diseases and who are psychologically fit are most suited to become donors.
In order to ensure that a donor is physically, genetically and psychologically healthy for the donation, she has to undergo a number of tests. These may include:
- Blood tests to know the blood group, blood count and check for any infectious diseases might be passed on to the child
- HIV tests
- Hepatitis B or C tests
- Test for syphilis
- Cystic fibrosis test
- Medical history of the donor and her family to ensure that no hereditary problems are present
- The level of hormones present to know how fertile she is and whether her eggs are healthy enough
Psychological counselling is also advised to know her better as well as prepare her for the process.