The subject of egg donation is a difficult to approach. I’m asked a lot ‘When should egg donation be considered?’ That too, is a difficult question to answer as everyone is different.
The most common factors are age and egg reserves. If you are in your forties and IVF isn’t working for you, you are getting very few eggs and your reserves are low, there is a point when you need to think about the next steps.
I never want to feel that a women will give up on her own genetic child until she has done everything possible. She needs to feel she can move on with no regrets. It is such a difficult decision to make and there is a transition that you need to go through. At this point you could be paying for IVF with little chance of success when egg donation carries a much higher percentage chance of having a family.
We help clients move on and also support them in finding the right clinic for donation.
We do a lot of work at the clinic to help couples who are seeking egg donation overseas. We have started a service whereby we can do much of the preparation, blood work and scans prior to their cycle and liaise with their chosen clinic.
I’ve compiled some questions which you may find helpful if you are considering egg donation.
When might Egg Donation be an option?
Egg donation may be suggested as an option if your egg quality is an issue. This may be offered to women with premature ovarian failure, where IVF has repeatedly been unsuccessful, following surgery, chemotherapy or recurrent miscarriage; or if you are at risk of passing on a genetic disorder. Egg donation is also an option increasingly offered to older women. Remember that whether you feel young, whether you look your age or not, your body knows how old you are and your ovaries too. It is the age of your eggs (your ovarian age) which counts. IVF success rates (and live birth rates) using your own eggs over the age of 45 are extremely low which is why most clinics do not offer women IVF over a certain age. Clinics all have an age cut-off for egg donation too, but some clinics will treat women up to 50.
Women do not need to be having regular periods, or to be having periods at all. Provided a woman has a healthy uterus (womb) her body will be able to provide the conditions required for an embryo to develop. You, as the egg recipient, will be the biological mother (and the legal mother) although not the genetic mother. Clearly, the whole issue of egg donation is complex and requires specialised counselling to consider all the implications.
What are the success rates?
For a woman using donor eggs, successful live birth is dependent on the age of the eggs, not on the age of the mother. Not only are your chances of pregnancy significantly increased with donor eggs, your chances of miscarrying are greatly reduced. A woman in her early 40s, using her own eggs, has about a 7% to 10% chance of getting pregnant with assisted conception using her own eggs, but if she uses a donor egg, her chance increases to 25% to 60%. This is higher than the average success rate for conventional IVF across all age groups; because donor eggs are from fertile women under 30-35.
How can we decide if this treatment is right for us?
The decision to go down the donor egg route is not an easy one. It is strongly recommended that you and your partner (if you have one) talk to an experienced fertility counsellor and possibly to other people who have had egg donation before making your decision to go ahead. All HFEA-licensed clinics are obliged to offer access to implications counselling before you consent to treatment.
What is implications counselling?
The aim of implications counselling is to enable you to reflect upon and understand the proposed course of treatment for yourselves, your family, other significant people, and most importantly for any child born as a result of your treatment with donor eggs. At least one session of Implications counselling is recommended before consenting to any proposed treatment. Many couples subsequently seek support counselling at later stages of treatment.
How can the Zita West Team help you?
The multi-disciplinary team at Zita West Clinics can help to provide physical and emotional support at all stages of the IVF / Egg Donation process – from coming to terms with not being able to have your own genetic child, contemplating the egg donation route, to practical support with choosing a clinic, right through to support with complementary therapies to boost your chances of successful treatment, or to deciding that egg donation is not right for you and moving on to adoption or coming to terms with not having a child.
An initial consultation with one of our midwife/gatekeepers will help you to plan your next steps and discuss how the clinic team can support you. This may include:
· Nutrition – to help boost energy and prepare your womb lining ready for your embryos.
· Acupuncture – to help reduce stress and boost blood flow to the womb lining.
· Male assessment – to ensure the sperm are healthy and in tip-top condition
· Hypnotherapy / positive visualisation – to help you to focus your mind through the cycle
· Fertility counselling: If you are doing Egg Donation in a UK clinic, you will be expected to have implications counselling before consenting to treatment, but if you are travelling abroad for treatment you may not have access to this specialised counselling. Our fertility counsellor sees couples together and individually for implications counselling.
· ‘What you need to know about donated sperm & eggs HFEA factsheet’ www.hfea.gov.uk.
· Support for potential parents with issues around telling a child: www.dcnetwork.org
· Infertility Network UK: for infertility support www.infertilitynetworkuk.com.
· British Infertility Counselling Association: www.bica.net lists local fertility counsellors.
For more informations contact the clinic www.zitawest.com