It is no longer a secret that one in four couples struggle with infertility, or the inability to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months of trying if the woman is over 35 years old). Many infertile couples turn to fertility treatments like in vitro fertilisation to have a child. Basically, IVF involves mixing an egg with sperm in a petri dish, then inserting the embryo into the intended mother’s uterus.
While you may use your own eggs for IVF, donor eggs are sometimes needed and the most common reason is that you might have tried multiple IVF cycles with little success.
Other reasons to use a donated egg include advanced maternal age, since egg quantity and quality dwindle as age progresses; early or premature menopause; removal of ovaries due to cancer or infections, or a severe genetic disorder that could be passed along to children.
Donor eggs are obtained from the ovaries of another woman. They’re usually fertilised by sperm from the recipient’s partner, and resulting embryos are transferred into the recipient’s uterus.
You may decide on donor eggs for many reasons, ranging from if your ovaries are damaged or prematurely failing, or you have undergone chemotherapy and/or radiation, or you are carrying a genetic disorder that you don’t want to pass along, or you’re an older woman with poor egg quality.
After undergoing IVF with donor eggs, around 40 – 50 per cent of women will give birth. A key good point is that donor eggs enable older women and those with ovarian problems to become mothers.
However, some couples may feel that the procedure is expensive, and be put off by the fact that the recipient must take a rigorous drug regimen with many potential side effects, and some women with no genetic link to the donor eggs may be uncomfortable using them.
When you need donor eggs as part of your assisted reproductive treatment plan, you stand to boost your odds for conception if you act from a position of knowledge.
The benefits of egg donation are numerous. For the recipient, a donated egg can boost fertility treatments, and for the donor, it’s a chance to help someone in need. The argument for using donated eggs will not be complete without a thorough understanding of the egg donation process, including the risks, requirements, and expected costs.
One of the key challenges of utilising egg donation is to find a suitable donor. A woman donates eggs for a variety of purposes. It could be because she has witnessed a family member or friend struggle with infertility, and she is open to the opportunity to help someone else that is struggling, even if she doesn’t know who that person is.
Other donors may simply decide that they wish to give back in another way after benefiting one way or another themselves. An egg donor may also require to be compensated for contributing to the egg donation process. An egg donor could freeze her eggs instead of matching with a recipient, although this isn’t as common.
It is necessary to point out that it is not every woman that can donate her eggs. Typically, a potential egg donor is expected to be aged at least in her early 20s and at most in early 30s. She should be physically and psychologically healthy, not obese or overweight, have regular monthly periods, not use contraceptive implants and be viably fertile.
She is not expected to have a history of substance abuse or family history of an inheritable genetic disorder. Egg donors have very minimal risk, like ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome which occurs when taking fertility drugs, however there’s no risk for an intended parent using donor eggs.
The egg donation process is well established in Nigeria, however If you wish to utilise donor eggs, whether you have an intended donor or wish to use an unknown donor, your best bet is to work through a reputable fertility centre.
The clinic will conduct checks on the intended donor. Every personal and medical information and family history about the intended donor is important and selected donors will need to partake in an initial medical screening before approval. After the screening, you and the donor would need to be matched.
If you as a potential parent find a donor that interests you, just contact the clinic, who will reach out to the donor to check her suitability. Alternatively, the fertility treatment clinics have their own egg donation programmes and plans and can advise you about obtaining donor eggs even if you do not have a known donor.
If you are utilising a known donor, once the match is confirmed, the donor will undergo a complete physical check, blood work, genetic screening, and a vaginal ultrasound, among other tests. The donor will be monitored during the few weeks before egg retrieval and she’ll take fertility-boosting injections for some days.
The eggs are usually collected from the donor’s ovary using a narrow needle called an aspiration needle under ultrasound imaging. The donor and intended parents remain anonymous throughout the process.
If using a donor egg is indicated for you by your fertility doctor, it is important that you undergo counselling with a trained and certified fertility counsellor to help come to terms with your treatment decisions and the implications.