If you are unable to use your own eggs to become pregnant, you may choose to use donor eggs from a known or anonymous donor. Our fertility experts at the Women & Infants Center can help you navigate the process.
Reasons to Consider Using Donor Eggs
Donor eggs may be the right option for your fertility treatment for a variety of reasons, including:
- Age: A woman’s egg quality naturally declines with age. Women over 35 (and especially those over 40) often have more difficulty becoming pregnant and have more miscarriages related to chromosomal abnormalities. Egg donation takes the recipient's age out of the equation.
- Premature menopause: Some women go through menopause early, before age 40, because of cancer treatment or other medical issues. Because the ovaries no longer release eggs regularly, women who experience early menopause often have difficulty becoming pregnant.
- Risk of transmitting inherited conditions: Women who have certain genetic conditions may choose to use donor eggs to avoid passing the condition to their children.
- Women born without ovaries or who had surgical removal of ovaries.
Using Donor Eggs: Why Choose Us?
When you come to the Fertility & Reproductive Medicine Center for treatment using donor eggs, you will find:
- Assistance finding the best egg donor for you: For fresh eggs, we work with many outside donor agencies who recruit and partially screen donors. Donors from outside agencies must go through mental health screening and meet set eligibility criteria, to proceed with a cycle at our center. Once you select a donor, our doctors can examine your choice to make sure they are the best fit for your success. For frozen eggs, we partner with MyEggBank, who rigorously screen their large and diverse selection of donors and offer guarantee programs.
- High success rates: Using donor eggs substantially increases your chances of a successful pregnancy. Our doctors typically see pregnancy rates of 65 percent or higher for women using donor eggs – even those who would have less than a 5 percent chance with their own eggs.
Using Donor Eggs: What to Expect
If you’re interested in using donor eggs to achieve pregnancy, our fertility doctors and their teams help you through the decision-making process. Steps along the way include:
- How to find a donor: An egg donor can be someone you know or an anonymous woman. If you choose a donor from an outside agency, she will have to go through our comprehensive screening before we can begin a cycle. This process is designed to be completely anonymous. If you choose someone you know, our fertility specialists can discuss your known donor and help determine if this person is a good candidate.
- What to look for in a donor: Ideally, an egg donor should be between 21 and 34 years old to ensure the best quality eggs. You may also want to consider other characteristics – such as physical traits, ethnic background, family medical history, education and personality. Our team will help you with any questions you have about the selection process and determine what to look for in a donor to give you the best chance at success.
- Fresh and frozen eggs: Using fresh eggs requires syncing your cycle with the donor’s so the eggs can be inseminated immediately after they are retrieved and so a fresh transfer of any embryos can be planned. Whereas using frozen eggs, which have already been harvested from the donor and are frozen, allows for more flexible timing. If you are interested in frozen eggs, we have a partnership with MyEggBank to help you find a donor. This option is typically quicker and less expensive. Talk to your physician to better understand the difference between the two options.
- Fertilizing the donor eggs: Your doctor uses in vitro fertilization (IVF) to fertilize the donor eggs with sperm from your partner or a sperm donor. The resulting embryo (or embryos) are transferred to your uterus usually within 5 days of egg retrieval.
- Psychological counseling: The decision to use donor eggs can be an emotionally difficult one. We require both partners to meet with one of our psychologists to help you work through any issues that come up during this process.
- Laws regarding the use of donor eggs: We provide legal assistance resources to help you understand the legal implications of your situation. In general, your donor will sign a consent form to relinquish all rights and responsibilities regarding her donated eggs. For women using egg donation to conceive, there is no need to file any legal documents to establish the parentage of the child.
Do you want to become an egg donor?
Donating your eggs helps those struggling with infertility turn their dream of building a family into a reality. For more information on becoming an egg donor visit asrm.org.
To make an appointment with a Washington University fertility and reproductive medicine specialist at the Women & Infants Center, call 888.202.6871.