Egg Donation

Deciding what to do if you have been told that your egg production is low or that your eggs are not suitable to produce a healthy embryo poses a big dilemma for many people.

For reasons that are hard for some to understand, the decision to use an egg donor is often harder for women or couples to make than using donor sperm. Besides feeling a level of inadequacy, women, because they are the child-bearer, tend to take this very hard. It is a major shift in seeking treatment when you arrive at this stage. Perhaps men’s feelings about sperm donation have been underestimated and that will be addressed in the section on sperm donation.

There are basically two different options when it comes to donor egg:

  1. Known Donor – when either a family member or friend will offer to use her eggs
  2. Anonymous Donor – when you choose a donor based on profiles listed at your medical clinic or donor agency and you never have contact with the donor

Both options create challenges for the couple and subsequent family.

In a known donor situation the woman may feel that this choice gives her greater control and knowledge – including a biological connection to the child, if the donor is a family member. This can be a very comforting feeling and may help to make the decision an easier one. The issue that may be uppermost in your mind and will be raised by your clinicians is the nature of your relationship with the donor; and further, for you all to understand what the future will hold. It is never a known entity to anticipate the future, but you and your donor will need to be screened by a psychologist before your clinic will give permission for you to use your donor choice. There are important areas for you to consider when making this decision – the primary one being what you will disclose to your child about the donor and what kind of relationship you would like the donor and your child to have. These are issues not to be taken lightly and should be given considerable thought while making your decision.

The option of an anonymous donor has other considerations. Make sure you choose an egg donor agency that can be trusted and does thorough screening. Make sure to do diligent research and ask questions.  Most clinics are reliable but the bottom line is you are still dealing with an unknown entity and are dependent on the agency to make sure that the donor has been honest about her medical history, follows all protocol and maintains good health while involved in the procedures. Information that you have about your donor will be the information that you will have to share with your child/ren.

Disclosure to children about donor egg and donor sperm is a very personal issue. Most therapists encourage parents to be honest with their children about their origin since “keeping secrets” is not considered a healthy way to function as a family. Many consider this similar to adoption – you are “adopting” an egg – and in our society most children are told about their being adopted. It is not an easy discussion and there are some differences of opinion about when it is best to tell your child. Again, recent research has shown that, like adoption, including this information as part of your child’s personal history, and incorporating it into the story of their lives, ultimately makes for an easier adjustment for your child.

There are some who make a decision from the start not to disclose this information to their children. Bear in mind that if anyone else knows about your child’s origin, it is unlikely that this will remain a secret forever. Human nature, family dynamics, unforeseen circumstances may all factor in; so it is important that if you want to be in control of this information it will be up to you to do the telling. There are also many ways in which your offspring can find information about their biological history through organizations dedicated to this cause. Once your children turn 18 this information will be made available to them.

The physical process of donor egg will be explained by your fertility clinic. You will take certain hormones in order to coordinate your cycle with the donor’s and to prepare your uterus to be ready for the fertilized egg. As in any IVF cycle, the worst part is the emotional suspense of waiting 10-14 days for pregnancy test results.

Many women worry about what it will be like once the baby is born and express concern about bonding with the baby. Research has shown that although there may be a slightly longer initial period of bonding, for most women, once they are caring for, and nurturing their baby, the bonding process is successful and strong. There are no indications that post-partum depression is more pronounced in mothers who have gone through fertility treatments or who are specifically donor egg mothers.