75 percent of women over age 45 turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART) as a treatment option use donor eggs or embryos to conceive a child. Each year, this method accounts for about 5,800 babies born in the United States.
For women over 40 or can no longer produce healthy eggs, donor eggs or embryos can help a patient carry and deliver a baby. This is also a good option when at risk for passing a genetic disease such as Tay-Sachs disease or sickle cell anemia to your child.
First, you’ll decide whether to use a friend or family member’s eggs, an anonymous donor’s eggs, or, if your partner’s sperm aren’t healthy, donor embryos — the combined sperm and eggs of known or anonymous donors.
If you decide on an anonymous egg donor, CFI will assist in this process. You’ll usually be able to choose based on a donor’s physical characteristics, ethnic background, educational record, and occupation. Most donors are between 21 and 29 years old and have undergone psychological, medical, and genetic screening. If you choose to use donor embryos, you can either pick unrelated egg and sperm donors or use a frozen embryo donated by a couple that had extras.
Once you pick a donor, both you and she will take Lupron, a synthetic hormone, or birth control pills to get your reproductive cycles in sync — she needs to ovulate when your uterine lining can support an embryo. She’ll also take a fertility drug to help her develop several mature eggs for fertilization, while you will receive estrogen and progesterone to prepare your uterus for pregnancy. Once her eggs are mature, our doctor will give her an anesthetic and remove her eggs from her ovaries by inserting a needle through her vaginal wall using an ultrasound for guidance.
From here on out, the procedure is just like that of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Your partner’s sperm or a donor’s sperm will be combined with your donor’s eggs in a dish in a laboratory. Two to five days later, each of the fertilized eggs will be a ball of cells called an embryo. Our doctor will insert two to four embryos into your uterus through your cervix using a thin catheter. Although it’s not a common practice, many experts say couples should consider transfer of a single embryo to avoid the risk of twins or triplets. Extra embryos, if there are any, may be frozen in case this cycle doesn’t succeed. If the treatment does succeed, an embryo will implant in your uterine wall and continue to grow into a baby. In about 40 percent of ART pregnancies using donor eggs, more than one embryo implants itself and women give birth to multiples.
You’ll be able to take a pregnancy test about two weeks after the embryos are placed in your uterus Using donor eggs and embryos, you’ll have about a 50 percent chance of giving birth to a child. You can also use frozen embryos, but the birth rates are lower — about 30 percent per transfer. Because donor eggs come from young and fertile women, success rates for donor-egg IVF can be as much as two or three times higher than with regular IVF in women ages 40 and older.