Getting Pregnant with Donor Gametes
A donor egg or banked sperm may be the best route to conception for some couples
After Selecting the Donor
When a match is made, the cycles of the donor and recipient must be synchronized. The donor will undergo ovarian stimulation and subsequent oocyte retrieval just like that used for an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. If the recipient has no ovarian function, she must be placed on estrogen and progesterone in order to prepare the uterus. The use of estrogen and progesterone allows the physician to establish a cycle in which the uterus and its lining are in perfect synchrony with the cycle of the donor. If the recipient does have some ovarian function, she may have to use a gonadotropin releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist to suppress her ovaries before going on the hormone replacement protocol.
The eggs from the donor may then be used for gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT), zygote intrafallopian transfer (ZIFT), or IVF, depending on the particular circumstances and the particular ART program. Most programs have such a high rate of success doing IVF with donor eggs that other procedures are somewhat uncommon. Chances of success are obviously dependent on the procedure used and on the ART program, but in general the use of donor eggs restores a woman’s fertility to at least that of women the age of the donor. Whereas a woman aged 42 may have less than a five percent chance of success using her own eggs to do IVF, her chances of success using donor eggs should approach 50 percent or more.
Some programs also allow women to recruit their own donors, or to use a friend or relative as an egg donor. This also works very well, provided that adequate counseling and evaluation of everyone involved are performed ahead of time.
Donor eggs, like donor sperm, are not inexpensive. The total cost of a donor egg attempt, which includes all medications, monitoring, laboratory work, egg retrieval and transfer, and donor compensation ranges from $9,000 to $20,000.
Obviously, appropriate consent forms must be obtained from both the donor and recipients. With appropriate screening, counseling, and consent forms, this procedure is one that is rewarding not only for the recipient couple but also for the donor. Most donors have a real sense of satisfaction from having been able to offer another couple at least a chance to experience the joys of childbearing.
With proper consideration and evaluation before using donor eggs, I have never met a couple who have regretted their decision to conceive using donor eggs. When they become pregnant, they are pregnant together and they can deliver that child together. They have a child whom they can raise from birth (and take good care of during the pregnancy). Pregnancy with donor eggs also eliminates much of the uncertainty associated with adoption.
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