Between 2000 and 2010, egg donation nearly doubled, resulting in thousands of pregnancies each year. As more families delay having children while building their careers and establishing financial stability, egg donation and the use of donor eggs will likely become even more popular. For most women, the difficult reality is that while it takes longer and longer to become financially stable, fertility has a ticking clock attached to it. As a woman gets older her ovarian reserve diminishes and the older she gets, the eggs she has are often lower quality. Eventually, this can make it difficult and then eventually impossible to get pregnant.
Egg donation allows a woman to have the experience of pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding, even when her own eggs are not viable enough. The woman can choose donor sperm or her partner’s sperm, allowing her partner to have a biological connection to the child. So is egg donation right for you? Here’s a brief overview of egg donation pros and cons.
Benefits of Egg Donation for Donors
Donors considering donating eggs receive many benefits, including:
Before you can donate eggs, a doctor will need to ensure you are healthy. The screening usually includes blood work to test for common health and fertility issues, as well as an STI/STD screening. Additionally, you may undergo genetic testing to assess for common fertility and genetic issues. This can provide you with free health testing -- a significant benefit for young or financially strapped women who can’t afford expensive medical screenings.
Additionally, you'll learn important information about your own fertility. This may help you make future reproductive health decisions and can offer significant peace of mind.
The medical expenses associated with egg donation are fully covered, so you won’t have to worry that your decision will cost you. In some cases, you may also receive additional compensation -- especially if your eggs are very healthy or you have a history of producing successful pregnancies via egg donation. Some women earn thousands of dollars via egg donation. This can offer a path to greater financial health that can help you gain more control over your own destiny.
A chance to help another person
Infertility is devastating and can shift a family’s hopes and dreams for the future. Through egg donation, you allow a deserving family to become parents and raise a child. This is a gift that’s impossible to quantify, and will measurably improve another person’s life.
A chance to preserve one’s own eggs
Some women are not yet ready to have children of their own but want to preserve their eggs to protect their future fertility. When you donate eggs, it’s possible to also preserve some for yourself. This could be a win-win, since you’ll already be taking hormones and going through the egg retrieval process. Ask your provider if they offer egg donation and egg preservation in the same cycle.
A safe and short medical procedure
Egg donation is a medical procedure with some small risks, and the process requires the woman to take fertility drugs. However, the actual procedure is quite short, and the drugs involved in egg donation have been used and tested on thousands of women. While it’s true that egg donation takes time, planning, and commitment, the risk is minimal and the burden is fairly small, especially when compared to the benefits you’ll be offering another family.
Benefits of Egg Donation for Recipients
Egg donation offers myriad benefits to egg recipients. They include:
A chance at a healthy pregnancy
Many women who cannot conceive on their own still want to experience the process of being pregnant, giving birth, or breastfeeding a child. Some find that these processes help them bond with a child and prepare for the challenges of motherhood. Egg donation offers a chance for a woman to go through pregnancy, even if she cannot have a baby who is biologically her own. For couples with infertility, egg donation is often the fastest path to a healthy pregnancy.
A chance to choose the donor
When you use egg donation, you choose the donor. This means you can select someone who looks like you. Some couples even opt to use a family member’s eggs. For example, a woman might use her sister’s eggs to ensure her child shares more of her genetic material than the child would with a family member. Talk to your partner and your doctor about the best option for your family.
Flexibility and control over the process
There are many approaches to egg donation, and you’ll get to control much about the process. Here are some things to consider:
- Which donor to use. You can select specific donor criteria, or even personally select a donor. You can even use donor eggs from a family member or someone else you know.
- Whether to use a surrogate. It’s possible to use donor eggs from a surrogate, to have the eggs implanted into a surrogate, or to get pregnant yourself.
- Which sperm to use. If your partner’s sperm is healthy, you can use their sperm with donor eggs. You can also select donor sperm.
- What to do with additional eggs or embryos. You may be able to preserve additional embryos if you use IVF.
- How many cycles to try, especially if you opt to preserve some of the donor eggs for a future cycle.
A chance to preserve embryos for a future pregnancy
Many families want to have more than one child. With egg donation, you have the chance to preserve eggs for the future. This means you can try again for another pregnancy in a few years. It also means that, if your first donor cycle fails, you may have eggs or embryos left over to try again.
The opportunity to build more security before becoming a parent
It’s harder than ever to get a great education, build some financial security, and launch yourself on the path to adulthood. Society is changing. Unfortunately, biology is not. So while you might not feel ready to become a parent, buy a house, or build a savings account until your thirties or your forties, your twenties remain the ideal time to get pregnant. Donor eggs allow you to delay parenthood for a bit, ensuring you can build a home, a life, and a sense of security for your future child.
A healthier pregnancy and child
Even when a woman is able to get pregnant with her own eggs, there may be other problems. Genetic defects are more common in older mothers and can increase the risk of miscarriage and pregnancy complications. Donor eggs are often healthier and can increase your chances of having a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child.
A faster route to pregnancy
When a woman has fewer healthy eggs, getting pregnant can be a long, involved, and exhausting undertaking. Donor eggs offer a faster route to pregnancy for women with questionable eggs or ovulation difficulties. So if you want to become a parent as quickly as possible, donor eggs can make that dream a reality.
Drawbacks of Egg Donation for Donors
Egg donation is not right for all donors, even healthy donors who want to earn a little extra cash. Some considerations to keep in mind include:
Risk of side effects
Egg donation is a medical procedure, and all medical procedures carry some risk. The hormones involved in the process can affect your mood and health. They may also cause temporary weight gain. In rare cases, it’s possible to develop a painful condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. HSS requires prompt treatment, and can even be fatal in severe cases if it is not treated.
There is also a risk that a donor cycle will not work. This can be especially painful for donors who know the mother, or who are heavily invested in ensuring the mother has a successful pregnancy. If you can’t face the prospect of going through egg donation only to see the process fail, egg donation may not be right for you.
Eggs have the potential to become children. When egg donation is successful, one of your eggs can become someone else’s child. This can be difficult, especially if you do not know the person. Or if you donate to a family member, you may struggle with not intervening, particularly if they parent differently from how you might. Some egg donors say that they feel used by the families to whom they donate, so it is important to ensure that you feel fully equipped to freely give away your eggs.
Some egg donors have psychological reactions they do not expect, especially if they have children of their own or have mixed feelings about egg donation or the process of becoming a parent. So consider trying a few counseling sessions before becoming a donor. This ensures you’re emotionally prepared for the process, and minimizes the risk of painful and unexpected reactions.
Time and commitment
Egg donation requires time and commitment. You’ll need to take hormones to suppress your natural cycles for a month, and will also have to undergo egg retrieval. Especially for women who already have children or who have other commitments, this can be exhausting. So make sure your schedule has room for the time egg donation requires.
Drawbacks of Egg Donation for Recipients
Using donor eggs is not right for every infertile woman or couple. Here are some cons of egg donation to consider before you make this decision.
Not having your own biological child
For many women, having a child who is biologically their own is important. With egg donation, the child will be biologically someone else’s. However, you can still use your partner’s sperm and can become pregnant. For many families, this reduces the sadness associated with having a baby who is not genetically the mothers. Be sure to talk through the process with your partner, and to process your emotions about having a child who is not your own. You may need some time to grieve the loss of fertility before you plow full speed ahead into egg donation.
The potential for failure
Donor eggs greatly improve the chances of a successful pregnancy. But there is no guarantee. You and your partner must be prepared for the possibility that a donor egg cycle might fail. Spend some time talking about how many cycles you are willing to try, and how much money you are willing to spend. If none of the cycles succeed, will you regret the time and effort spent on donor eggs? If so, another approach might be a better choice. If, however, you’re willing to gamble on a technique with a high rate of success, then donor eggs could be the best choice.
Using donor eggs is expensive. Some of the expenses you might face include:
- Paying a donor for their eggs, if you opt to go that route.
- Paying the donor’s medical expenses. Hormones can be very expensive and are rarely covered by insurance.
- Paying for your own expenses, including the egg implantation process.
In some cases, you may need to go through multiple cycles to get pregnant. Sometimes that means using multiple donors, further driving up the expense. Ensure you are financially prepared to manage this expense, and that you do not gamble away your future. If you spend your life’s savings on egg donation and do not get pregnant, will you regret the decision?
Your doctor can help you understand the chances of success and can discuss with you the expenses that will likely be involved.
Finding a donor
Finding an egg donor can be a significant benefit of egg donation. For some families, however, it’s a stressful undertaking -- especially if you choose a family member, or select a donor with whom you develop a relationship. Accepting eggs from someone you know is an emotionally fraught process, so it is important to practice open, honest communication and ensure everyone is emotionally prepared for the process.
Making the Decision
The Center of Reproductive Medicine is Texas’s premier fertility clinic. We specialize in helping people become pregnant as quick, safe, and as affordable as possible. Our egg donation success rates are extraordinarily high, and our donor egg IVF success rates are even higher. We’d love to help you weigh the pros and cons of egg donation to determine if it is right for you.
Infertility is painful, but you don’t have to walk this road alone. We’re here for you. Let us show you a path out of the pain of infertility. Give us a call today to meet our physicians and get started!