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Egg donation is a procedure where a woman donates her eggs to help others start or grow a family. As a reproductive technology, it’s also linked to particularly high rates of success, especially for women over 40.
In this article, we outline the main reasons for egg donation, explore the statistics we have available, and explain why using an egg donor can be such a powerful prospect.
There are many reasons why an individual or couple may opt for egg donation as a fertility treatment. Some of the most common ones include:
Premature menopause: conditions like premature ovarian failure (POF) and primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) can cause early or premature menopause in women, which makes it very difficult to conceive without help.
Unexplained infertility: some individuals have unsuccessfully tried to start a family for many years, despite there being no clear medical reason.
Unsuccessful IVF cycles: after multiple failed IVF cycles, a doctor may recommend egg donation to increase chances of success.
Surrogacy: gay couples, single males, transgender women and women experiencing recurrent miscarriage may explore surrogacy with an egg donor as the path to start a family.
Genetic disorders: some women are fertile and able to produce eggs, but carry serious genetic diseases. Using donated eggs can mean avoiding passing conditions on to a child.
The decision to use donor eggs can be a difficult one, often after a very long fertility journey. Many are told by their doctor – sometimes following the great physical, emotional and financial toll of multiple failed IVF cycles with their own eggs – that using donor eggs is the best or only avenue left for conception. Receiving this news can be very difficult to process; seeking support, community or counselling can be really helpful during this tough time.
Egg donation is a big decision. Regardless of where you are in your journey, it’s important to take as much as you need to feel confident before making any decisions.
The HFEA offers data on egg donation success rates by age. It’s important to note that these are general and do not take into account several key factors that affect success, such as the age of the egg donor and the health of the recipient or surrogate.
IVF births per embryo transferred by age and egg source, 2018-2019
Birth rate per embryo transferred - Patient egg
Birth rate per embryo transferred - Donor egg
Source data: HFEA (Trends in egg, sperm and embryo donation 2020).
We can derive several key insights from this data:
Generally speaking, success rates for donor egg IVF are comparable to success rates for own egg IVF for women under 35.
For women over 40 years old, the chances of a live birth more than doubles when using an egg donor (4-12% success rate with own eggs, vs. 30-34% with donor eggs).
When a woman is 43 or older, chances of IVF success are over 7 times higher when using an egg donor over own eggs.
Age is a key factor in women’s fertility, due to the impact age has on egg quality. As a woman goes through her thirties, the quality and quantity of her eggs decrease, making natural pregnancy more difficult.
Anonymous egg donors must be under 36, healthy, and without a history of genetic conditions. Women who donate eggs also undergo fertility screening to ensure the highest possible chances of success for recipients. The result is that people who use donated eggs benefit from younger, higher quality eggs, which are linked to much higher rates of success.
When reviewing egg donation success rates, it’s important to remember that they don’t usually show why egg donation was needed in the first place. A recipient’s age and health are important factors, as well as fertility history.
Apricity’s AI team has been developing tools to help increase transparency in fertility care for a number of years. You may find it beneficial to plug in your information in one of our Fertility Predictors to get an overview of how successful egg donation has been for people with profiles similar to yours.
Our Fertility Predictors are not a substitute for a medical assessment with a doctor. Instead, they’re a way to understand a huge amount of data (nearly half a million recorded HFEA cycles) in a simple way.
If you’re interested in exploring egg donation, get in touch via our live chat or by calling us on 07897 035438. We’re proud to be one of the UK’s leading fertility clinics in egg donation, with an 86% cumulative pregnancy rate, deep expertise, and streamlined support that puts you at the center of every decision.
From finding your perfect egg donor to managing your clinical treatment, our egg donation specialists are there to support every step of your journey. We have a wealth of resources to help you explore egg donation from different angles, and offer powerful community support through our friend and longtime collaborator, Becky Kearns (of DefiningMum and PathsToParentHub).
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