I cannot get pregnant with my eggs. What can I do?
It is the question many women ask themselves when they discover they have a fertility problem. The solution in these cases is to resort to egg donation. That is to say, eggs donated by another woman and fertilized with husband or anonymous donor’s sperm.
As an assisted reproductive technique, egg donation has many advantages. In addition to allowing many women to fulfill their dreams, it offers much higher success rates than other techniques.
However, treatment with donated eggs still raises many questions among women. How are donors chosen? Until what age can I undergo this treatment? Who will the baby look like?
To solve all your doubts, in this post we answer the most frequent questions about egg donation that our patients ask us.
When do I have to undergo egg donation?
Not all women with fertility problems need to use eggs from a donor. The doctor who examines your case, after a basic study in which he will analyse the state of your ovaries and their reproductive capacity, will determine the treatment that best suits you. However, in general, egg donation is usually recommended in the following situations:
-Low ovarian reserve: From the age of 35, the reproductive capacity of the eggs is drastically reduced. In this situation, especially if the patient is over 40 years old, most specialists advise resorting to donor’s eggs. At FIV Marbella, for instance, most of our eggs come from donors between 18 and 30 years old, who have a high possibility of gestation.
-Early menopause: Among Spanish women, the average age of menopause is around 50. This process marks the end of monthly ovulation, and therefore prevents a woman from getting pregnant naturally. Sometimes this process can occur early, which is known as early menopause. Egg donation treatment allows getting pregnant even when the ovarian reserve has finished.
-Recurrent miscarriages: Recurrent gestational loss, or recurrent miscarriage, is an infertility problem that affects some women. It occurs when there are at least two repeated miscarriages, or more than two alternate miscarriages. The use of donated eggs is recommended when miscarriages are caused by poor egg quality.
-Previous treatments failed: When there have been failed treatments with patient’s eggs, the most viable option is to resort to egg donation.
-Anovulation: Sometimes a woman's natural ovulation can be interrupted for a variety of reasons. There are even cases where a woman is born without the ability to produce eggs. The donation allows them to fulfill their dream of becoming mothers.
Until what age can I do an egg donation treatment?
Spanish law does not set an age limit for these treatments in private clinics. The only requirement is that this treatment is carried out "only when there are reasonable chances of success, do not pose a serious risk to the health, physical or mental, of the woman or the possible offspring. Besides, it must be performed after free and informed acceptance of their application by the woman, who must have been previously and duly informed of their chances of success, as well as of the risks and the conditions of such application".
As a common decision, most clinics have an age limit of 50 years. This is due to the multiple risks that pregnancy implies above this age, both for the patient and for the fetus.
At some point, the chances of the mother suffering from gestational diabetes, increased blood pressure or even pre-eclampsia, which involves kidney and liver failure, increase. For the baby, it means an increased risk of premature birth, miscarriage or the possibility of suffering a birth defect, including Down Syndrome.
Can I choose the donor?
No, you cannot. Law 14/2006 on Assisted Human Reproduction Techniques establishes that egg donations are anonymous. This means that the recipient cannot know the identity of her donor at any time.
What you may know are some phenotypic traits, such as blood group and age. These data are used to find a physically compatible donor.
The only exception is a couple of married homosexual women who get pregnant thanks to reciprocal IVF. In this case, one of the women is the egg donor and the other is the pregnant woman.
If I get pregnant with donated eggs, will the baby look like me?
One of the most common concerns among patients undergoing these treatments is physical resemblance to the baby. The idea of giving up her genetic burden produces fear and rejection in the mother, in a process known as "genetic mourning.
Besides this concern, there’s the fact of not being able to choose the donor, according to the anonymity established by law. To make the mother feel more at ease, our medical team performs a deep matching process. Data such as height, weight, build, eye and hair colour or blood group are taken into account when choosing a compatible donor.
At FIV Marbella, we have gone a step further with the development of the Ovomatch app for donor selection. From a 'selfie', the app uses a mathematical algorithm of facial recognition to analyze the features of the recipient and searches our database for a donor with a high physical resemblance.
What are the chances of success?
In addition to allowing many women to fulfill their dreams, it offers much higher success rates than other techniques. The reason is simple: donated eggs are generally younger, and therefore of better quality.
During monthly ovulation, the ovaries first develop the eggs most likely to achieve pregnancy. This explains why, after 35, it is much more difficult to get pregnant, since the oocytes that remain are of the worst quality.
At FIV Marbella, we have a higher rate of successful pregnancies than the Spanish average. This is because most of our donors are between 18 and 30 years of age, and are therefore of full reproductive age. In addition, we have several techniques for the selection of the most suitable embryos, such as the incubator with Time Lapse camera, which makes a video with the evolution of the embryos.
Having to undergo egg donation treatment is a difficult process to accept. However, donated eggs have enabled many women to fulfill their dreams of becoming mothers.