When it comes to navigating how your family will grow in the future, there is no easy path. If a couple is experiencing difficulty with conception, it may seem like family planning is even more arduous and emotionally taxing. Because we understand that every couple is different, we know there isn’t a single solution that is right for everyone. Using an egg donor, for example, is an excellent option if it’s right for your family and your body—both physically and mentally.
Park Avenue Fertility specializes in helping families grow as well as educating couples about the process and options they have when it comes to conceiving a healthy baby. In this post, we’ll be guiding you through the option of egg donation so you can decide if this route is the right fit for your family.
Using an Egg Donor to Conceive
Egg donation is a widely popular option, largely due to boasting the highest pregnancy success rates compared to other methods of treatment. In many cases, the uterus and egg quality of a female patient may be the reason they are unable to conceive on their own. Sometimes, hormone treatments and other therapies may help in some aspects, allowing the couple to conceive, but there are times when a couple must consider using an egg donor to conceive when other options have not been successful for them.
Egg donors are females between the ages of 21 and 29 years old who have a healthy background and family history, who are willing to donate their eggs to couples who wish to conceive. These eggs are paired with sperm from the recipient’s partner, or donor sperm, to create a viable embryo that the female partner can then carry to term.
Using an egg donor transforms the case from an “infertility problem” to what we call a “sperm-meets-egg” case, where the healthy egg and sperm will ideally create an embryo that can safely carry to term. By using eggs that are healthy and highly capable of yielding a pregnancy, this method results in exceptionally high pregnancy rates—the highest of all fertility treatments available today.
Types of Egg Donation
You may not realize how many different options there are when it comes to using egg donation to conceive. There are actually two types of egg donations that can be made, anonymous and direct, that allow couples to choose an option that is most comfortable for them.
The most popular option when it comes to using an egg donor to conceive is using an anonymous donation. In these cases, females have gone through our very thorough selection process, making sure they’re healthy, drug-free, and don’t have an unhealthy family history. These donors are protected by doctor-patient confidentiality that allows them to remain anonymous to the fertility patients seen by our office. By protecting their anonymity, we are able to gain access to their full medical and family history in order to create a comprehensive profile of the eggs. This allows couples to have full control when choosing the best donor for them.
Though these egg donations come from anonymous donors, these eggs will be fertilized with the sperm of the recipient’s male partner. This process gives couples the opportunity to conceive a child that is genetically linked to them through the father and carried by the mother.
Direct Egg Donation
Another option available to couples is a direct egg donation. Direct egg donations allow family members, like sisters or cousins, to donate their healthy eggs to the couple in need. These cases still require the donating family member to have a clean bill of health, but the resulting embryo will be genetically linked to both parents through the family donor.
One of the pros to direct donations is that the couple knows the donor and may avoid financial reciprocity because the donating family member is doing it out of the kindness of their hearts. Because they are a direct family member, our staff and the couple know their family history and shared genetics.
However, we always recommend attending counseling services when going through any type of fertility treatment, including direct donation treatment, since direct family donations may come with psychological complications that are avoided with anonymous egg donors.
Selecting a Donor
One of the biggest concerns that people have when they consider using an egg donor to conceive is the health of the donor. The truth is, if there are any health concerns at all, the potential donor is excluded from the pool and we do not use their eggs.
Recruited anonymous donors are young females with healthy medical and family histories that reside in Connecticut and the bordering states. These donors undergo vigorous screening which includes psychological screening, infectious disease screening, genetics screening, and thorough drug screening. After reviewing all of these results, we are able to make an informed decision about the safety of the eggs and determine their eligibility for donation.
Just as the donors go through screening to make sure that they are fit to donate their eggs, couples are able to screen donated eggs to find what works best for them. In many cases, couples are looking for an egg that has a similar background to the mother culturally and ethnically.
Couples are able to prioritize their preferences, such as “dark haired, green eyes, and over 5.5 feet tall.” We will then begin to search our donor database and find the best match possible. Though more specific requests may take more time to perfectly match, Park Avenue Fertility and our couples know this is well worth the wait.
Types of Fertilization
Whether you consider using an anonymous donor or a directly donated egg, there are two types of fertilization methods that we may use to produce a healthy embryo. It’s important to note that, in some cases, the donated eggs are fertilized with sperm from the male partner or an anonymous (or direct) sperm donor.
With conventional insemination, the donated egg is covered by the sperm to create an embryo similar to the way it would naturally inside the womb. This method is selected depending on the way the egg has been diagnosed by our team, ensuring that we select the best possible method to fertilize the egg.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICS)
The other method used to fertilize eggs is “Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection,” or ICS. With this method, the sperm is injected into the egg which directly fertilizes it. ICS is used in cases where the sperm has low motility or if the egg is more difficult to penetrate, though there are other factors we consider when selecting this fertilization method. Studies have found ICS to be a safe and effective fertilization method, whether the eggs are donated or not, when used in IVF treatments.
And What about Twins?
There’s no shortage of stories in the news that chronicle a couple’s IVF journey that resulted in multiple births like twins or quintuplets. Park Avenue Fertility places the health of the mother and baby at the highest priority, so many of our patients are transferred just one embryo at a time.
Transferring one embryo is especially important if the mother is considered high-risk for health complications, as carrying multiple babies may put too much strain on her body. For these reasons, we transfer a single embryo per cycle to ensure the safety of all involved.
Are There Age Restrictions?
Many fertility clinics regard 51 years old as the cutoff point for egg donor services. Instead of thinking in terms of age, we at Park Avenue Fertility prefer to use a health cutoff instead. This allows us to treat more patients from a variety of ages and backgrounds as long as they are healthy enough to undergo treatment.
Because the health of our patients is our biggest concern, we screen women to ensure their bodies are healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to term. Whether they are 29, 35, or 52, it doesn’t matter—treatment depends entirely on their health status so we can safely and ethically grow their family.
For more information about donor services and other fertility treatment options, reach out to us to begin your journey to growing your family. Our caring staff would love to set up a no-risk consultation and answer all of your concerns when you’re ready.