Conception Later in Life: How Egg Donation Gives New Hope to Infertile Women

Being infertile
is a study in tumultuous emotions. The anxiety of wanting to know, so badly,
whether the next pregnancy test will have a plus sign, paired with the desire
to freeze time because the unknown is better than the disappointment of another
negative.  The feeling of months slipping
away into years, all while knowing that your best chances may have been years

IVF has become so
commonplace that people assume most twins nowadays are IVF twins, and women
with no men in the picture can use sperm donors with few eyebrows raised. But looking into egg donation may be one tactic that’s been overlooked by
women, especially those over age 35, who yearn to overcome infertility.

Here are some
reasons using a donor egg may work when other methods have not:

Your body does not make eggs throughout your
life; you’re born with all the eggs you will ever have. That means your eggs
are as old as you are, and older eggs are unfortunately more prone to genetic

Your egg stores are also greatly diminished by
age 35 and continue to decline through age 40.

Even with regular periods, you may not beovulating every month after age 35.

It’s next to impossible to get pregnant with
your own eggs after age 45.

You may have needed medicine, such as a cancer
treatment, that adversely affected your egg quantity and quality.

Advanced maternal age can have its challenges; however, women who
wait to have children may also be more financially stable and ready to be a

For women who have been through the wringer with infertility, or
for those whose maternal instincts kicked in later in life, pregnancy may seem
like a mirage, but with donated eggs, women can start their journey anew.

What is the egg donor process like?

Again there are the strong emotions. Many women report needing to
grieve that a baby made with donor eggs will not be biologically theirs. It’s
hard to accept that conclusion. Yet, the upside is that, unlike other options,
donor eggs allow women to experience the miracle of a baby growing inside, to
monitor the baby’s development, and even to go through childbirth.

After coming to terms with the emotional and psychological aspects
of using donor eggs, the process can usually begin relatively quickly. First,
women decide whether to use fresh or frozen donor eggs and who the donor will

All egg donors are screened for medical, genetic and psychological
issues before being allowed to donate. With frozen donor eggs, the donors have
already gone through the process of retrieving the eggs, so prospective moms
can simply choose a donor who meets her criteria.  There may be certain physical attributes, a
particular ethnicity or a desired level of education that are important to the
family.  Fresh donor eggs are a little
trickier as women will need to wait for the donor go through the screening
process, then to take medications to produce the eggs, and hope that enough
quality eggs are retrieved—all while both the donor and the recipient need to
sync their menstrual cycles using additional medications.

After the mom selects the donor eggs, using them is nearly
identical to traditional IVF. Once the eggs are at the fertility clinic, the
doctor fertilizes them. This step allows dads to contribute to the genetic
make-up of the baby, which some couples see as a major criteria in their family
planning. But a sperm donor is also a wonderful option.  As usual with fertility treatments, the
couple of days while the fertilized eggs grow into embryos can be stressful and
anxiety-inducing. Will it work this time? How many embryos will start growing?
Will they be healthy and robust?

After a few days, the doctor implants the desired number of
embryos into the mother, who will have prepped her body with hormones that
encourage those little bundles of joy to hang on tight.

And if they do, women who have struggled for so long may finally
see that elusive plus sign, that turns into morning sickness, that turns into
baby kicks, that turns into the makings of a mother who knows how badly this
child was wanted.


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