Egg donations: who are the recipients?
Understanding who will benefit from an egg donation, and how they will benefit, often motivates healthy young women to donate some of their eggs they don’t need to give another woman, who cannot fall pregnant with her own eggs, the chance to have a baby of her own.
The demand for egg donations is growing worldwide, as more and more couples in all countries struggle to fall pregnant naturally.
According to a new report recently published by the World Health Organisation (WHO), large numbers of people are affected by infertility in their lifetime. In fact, the numbers show that around 17.5% of the adult population – roughly 1 in 6 people worldwide – experience infertility, with little difference in the prevalence of infertility between various regions.
In growing numbers of cases, infertility can be attributed to a lack of eggs, or problems with the female partner’s eggs, although it is only one of many possible causes of infertility that can affect both female and male partners in a couple.
Why are egg donations necessary?
The article in The Economist entitled “Some women need eggs from others, or from their younger selves” relates the story of one egg donation recipient who tells her story as follows: “The hardest words to hear were: ‘You will not have a child with your own eggs’. These words were delivered late last year to me and my partner, after five years of failed IVF, by a doctor who quickly moved on to the remaining options: adoption or seeking the help of an egg donor. It is possible to know that genes are not the essence of what it is to be part of a family-and still struggle to adjust to what can feel like a loss of parental identity.”
It is often devastating to a woman to hear that she is unable to use her own eggs to start her family. But many parents-to-be struggling with infertility due to problems with the eggs, are so keen to have their own children, that they eventually move on to seek help in the form of an egg donation from a healthy young woman.
The donated eggs are then fertilised with the male partner’s sperm, or sperm from a donor, before being placed in the mom-to-be’s uterus through in vitro fertilisation treatment or IVF, to hopefully become a pregnancy.
There are a great many reasons why a woman’s eggs could not be suitable for achieving a pregnancy.
One of the reasons that are becoming increasingly common is what is called “advanced maternal age”. For numerous reasons, women are delaying trying for a baby until later in life. Childbirth is increasingly delayed as many women chose to pursue their professions or have to keep working for economic reasons. In fact, today, the average age at which a woman becomes a mother is 31 years old – up from age 23 in the last 50 years.
The delay in falling pregnant puts women at risk of having trouble conceiving, because advanced maternal age (35+) negatively affects egg quality and therefore fertility. From their mid-30s onwards, egg quality and fertility drop rapidly. Women who are approaching 40 or who are over 40 before they seek fertility treatment may find themselves requiring donated eggs to achieve a healthy pregnancy.
The number and quality of a woman’s eggs can also be affected by many other factors, such as surgery, damage to the ovaries or fallopian tubes, or diseases such as cancer.
There are also other instances in which an egg donation is required. For example, with increasing recognition and acceptance of the growing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTQI+) community, more single LGBTQI+ persons and same sex couples are growing their families through different reproductive options such as fertility treatments. For example, lesbian couples may want to share the parenting experience with one partner serving as the egg donor while the other carries the pregnancy. Where the partners are of advanced maternal age (35+), donor eggs may be required. In a gay couple, the solution may be a gestational carrier surrogacy, which will also require an egg donation.
The article in The Economist is encouraging, in that it highlights a growing mainstream acceptance of donor-assisted conception, as fertility treatments with the help of an egg or sperm donation is called.
While some egg donors donate some of their eggs to help someone they know, such as a family member or a close friend, most egg donations are made to help an unknown recipient, who will also never know the identity of the donor.
As the use of donor eggs in fertility treatment increased over the last decades, the waiting times for donor eggs have increased from a few months to a couple of years.
Big-hearted egg donors step up
Fortunately, there are many selfless women who are motivated to donate their eggs, knowing the incredible difference their donation will make in the life of another person or couple, who may otherwise never know the joy of having their own child.
While the egg donation process requires more time and involvement than, say, a blood donation, as the article in The Economist notes: “Yet a sense that it is a way to make the lives of strangers better still moves some women to donate.”
As one recipient of an egg donation says: “Through the donation, the egg donor gave me such a selfless gift – she helped me reach a dream that I once thought was unreachable.”
Another egg donation recipient wrote to her anonymous donor: “I don’t know even where to begin with my gratitude to you. I know that you and I will never meet, but I want you to know every day I am so thankful you have given me and my husband hope to become parents. I hope that every woman that goes through this finds an egg donor as I did. I will continue to be thankful for you every day for the rest of my life. Once again thank you, thank you, thank you! I am forever grateful and you will always have a special place in our hearts.”
In the words of another woman, who is now a mom thanks to an egg donor: “I really want you to know how extraordinarily grateful I am to you for giving me this opportunity to live a dream that was born so long ago. I wish you all the happiness in the world and may one day you have a family of your own and feel the love and excitement motherhood brings.”
Join our family of egg donors
Women who are willing – and able – to donate eggs are a select few. But knowing the incredible difference your donation will make in the life of another person or couple, who may otherwise never know the joy of having their own child, you may be thinking about giving the ultimate gift of an egg donation!
To find out more about joining this elite group of givers, simply fill in your contact details here, or contact Linda, on 066 22 55 003 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Your information is 100% confidential and will under no circumstances be made available to anybody else, ever.
We look forward to welcoming you to our friendly, professional and leading Egg Donation Program!