Dr Potter of HRC Fertility recently shared a blog entitled “Making the Leap to Donor Eggs”. We have shared his thoughts and views about when the right time is to start thinking about choosing egg donation to complete your family.

When is the right time to consider using donated eggs? We often are asked this question by patients who are at a crossroads in their treatment. Deciding to use the genetic material of another woman to have a baby is typically made with a lot of thought, deliberation and soul-searching.

Resolving to use donated eggs is often described as a ‘leap’ or transition. Most couples go through a deliberate process before taking this step. If you are at that turning point, here are some questions to consider as you move forward in your family building journey.

Do you have a pre-existing condition?
Some women arrive at our office knowing they will need an egg donor. They may have lost their fertility because of cancer treatment or a medical condition that caused their ovaries to be removed or stop functioning. Other women may carry an incurable genetic disease they do not wish to pass to their future children and do not want to use preimplantation genetic diagnosis to screen their embryos.

Are you older than the age limit for your clinic?
Many fertility clinics have upper age limits for female patients past which they will not perform in vitro fertilization with a woman’s own eggs. From their experience, they feel the IVF success rates are too low to justify the time and expense of this procedure versus the low, expected results. This can be a frustrating policy for patients, but one developed from the experience of the particular clinic.

Is your ovarian reserve weak?

Every female fertility patient undergoes several fertility assessment tests. These tests provide an overview of the approximate number of eggs remaining in her ovarian reserve as well her potential response to fertility medications. None of the tests can evaluate egg quality, though we know this declines with age.

Your doctor will discuss the test results with you so you can make a joint determination about whether to proceed with further treatment using your own eggs. Often women need to see if they can beat the odds with their own eggs before moving on to another family building procedure. Usually an IVF cycle, especially one combined with genetic screening, can provide patients with valuable information about the odds of conceiving with their own eggs.

Have you experienced multiple IVF and pregnancy losses?
Women who decide to use donated eggs frequently have experienced multiple losses with their own eggs, included failed IVF cycles and miscarriages. When you are producing abnormal eggs and embryos, it probably is time to make other choices.

Is experiencing pregnancy and childbirth important to you?
The loss of passing your genetic characteristics to your child can be perceived as a profound loss. However, using donor eggs also gives you many benefits. Donor egg with IVF enables women to experience pregnancy and childbirth, take care of their baby prenatally, and nurse their child.

Using donated eggs also allows the female’s partner to be genetically related to their child, which is an important consideration for many couples.

The first confirmed birth of a baby born with donor eggs occurred in 1984. Before egg donation, adoption was the sole recourse for couples that had exhausted other treatment possibilities. Though using a donor egg might be a loss of one dream, it also can be the beginning of another with the embrace of a proven technology that has created thousands of babies and happy parents for over two decades.