Pregnancy with donor egg is a wonderful solution for those women who otherwise would not be able to have a baby due to non-viable eggs of their own. These include women who are in what is considered an advanced maternal age, women who have experienced premature ovarian failure, have already undergone several failed IVF cycles or even who are menopausal or post-menopausal.
Using a donor egg to become pregnant is a very personal decision and may not be right for everyone. Let’s look in detail at what is involved so you can make the choice that is best for you.
You can also read more about advantages and drawbacks of using donor eggs here.
What Is a Donor Egg Pregnancy?
Donor egg pregnancy is a pregnancy where the baby has been conceived with donor eggs. A donor egg pregnancy begins with the intended parent or parents selecting eggs from a donor egg bank. The eggs, which can be either fresh or frozen, are fertilized using the partner’s sperm or donor sperm. This creates embryos, which are then grown in special media in an IVF lab. The embryos can then be tested for any chromosomal abnormalities, and can also be tested for the sex of the baby if desired. Then the embryos are frozen until they can be transferred to the intended mother’s uterus to create the pregnancy.
For more information on the entire process, see our page on using donor eggs.
Pregnancy with Donor Egg After Menopause
For women who are in advanced maternal age, using a donor egg after menopause makes pregnancy possible. Because the donor eggs that are used to produce the pregnancy are those of a young donor, this completely bypasses the mother’s non-viable eggs. Just because her eggs were subject to the ticking of her biological clock, does not mean she can’t become pregnant, as long as she still has her uterus. With the proper professional fertility support, she is still capable of sustaining a healthy pregnancy.
What Are the Chances of Getting Pregnant With Donor Eggs
Here at Santa Monica Fertility, your chances of getting pregnant with donor eggs are high. Our treatment offers great results and our patients’ chances of having a baby are 65 to 70 percent of live births per embryo transfer. This increases to 90 percent with a second embryo transfer, which is much higher than the national average.
Plus, due to our advanced techniques that enhance the preservation of donor eggs, our live birth rate for donor eggs that are frozen is the same as the success rate for fresh donor eggs. We also only accept egg donors who are young and are in superb physical and emotional health, which contributes to our success rate. For more information on the success rates of IVF with donor eggs see this page.
Donor Egg Pregnancy Symptoms
A pregnancy that occurs using a donor egg will proceed in much the same way a regular pregnancy does. To confirm pregnancy, after a donor egg embryo transfer we do the first BETA blood test at one week, then two days later, then one week after that. If the levels all appropriately increase, then pregnancy is confirmed and the intended mother schedules her first OB ultrasound one week after that.
The mother should also be aware of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy:
- Nausea, which may also include vomiting. This is known as morning sickness but can actually occur at any time of the day or night. As the pregnancy progresses, the mother’s body becomes used to the hormonal changes and these symptoms will very likely decrease or disappear altogether.
- Swollen, tender breasts are common as well. The hormonal changes which occur in early pregnancy are responsible for this, and as the body adjusts to these changes, this will decrease.
- Fatigue is quite common in early pregnancy. The hormonal changes that are occurring, especially the rise in progesterone, may cause sleepiness and a feeling of fatigue.
Donor Egg Pregnancy Complications
Donor egg pregnancy complications are the very same ones you might experience in a pregnancy that occurs using your own eggs. For women who use a donor egg, there does appear to be a slightly higher risk of developing high blood pressure during the pregnancy, known as preeclampsia.
Besides the risk of developing high blood pressure, other possible complications include:
- Gestational diabetes, which is diabetes that develops during pregnancy that was not present before the pregnancy. If uncontrolled, gestational diabetes can lead to high blood pressure as well as having a baby that is too big, increasing the chances for cesarean section.
- Preterm labor is labor beginning before the 37th week of the pregnancy. Birth prior to 37 weeks carries an increased risk of health problems, as the baby’s lungs, brain and other organs do not finish developing before the final weeks of a full term pregnancy which is 39 to 40 weeks.
- Pregnancy related anxiety and depression are among the more common pregnancy complications, but these are treatable. Anxiety as well as depression can occur while pregnant or after delivery, and can have significant negative effects on both the mother as well as her infant.
- Early pregnancy loss, known as miscarriage, is the term used for a pregnancy loss due to natural causes that occurs prior to 20 weeks. Vaginal spotting or bleeding, cramping, or fluid or tissue passing from the vagina can all be signs of a miscarriage. Vaginal bleeding or spotting alone does not necessarily mean that a miscarriage is occurring or will occur, and any woman who experiences any of these signs should see their obstetrician immediately.
- The loss of a pregnancy after the 20th week is known as a stillbirth. In about fifty percent of all cases, there is no cause found for this loss. Factors that can lead to a stillbirth include problems with the placenta, infection, chromosomal abnormalities, and mother’s health problems.
- Severe and persistent nausea and vomiting, known as hyperemesis gravidarum, goes far beyond the normal “morning sickness” of early pregnancy and for some women, can extend into the third trimester. If this leads to weight loss, a reduction in appetite, dehydration and feeling faint, the pregnant woman may need to be hospitalized for treatment.
- Iron deficiency (anemia) is not uncommon during pregnancy and is due to not having enough iron in the body for the proper functioning of red blood cells. This type of anemia is associated with both preterm births as well as low birth weight. This condition is treated with supplemental iron by the medical provider.
Risks of Pregnancy with Donor Eggs
Although there is an additional risk of pregnancy with donor eggs, it is very, very low. All of our egg donors go through genetic counseling, but there still exists the possibility that unknown hereditary factors could be present. Our egg donors are young, as women in their 20s have the very healthiest eggs that have the least chance of passing on chromosomal abnormalities. The risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, known as an STD, while present, is so low as to be negligible. The FDA requires all egg donors to be tested according to strict regulatory criteria within 30 days of the egg donation.
As we have noted, there are some pregnancy risks that are associated with the use of donor eggs. The most common donor egg pregnancy risk is preeclampsia, which is an elevation of blood pressure during the pregnancy.
Donor Egg Pregnancy Success Stories
Over the years we have had the privilege of helping thousands of women become mothers with the help of donor eggs. Many patients, quite understandably, are reluctant to share in public the private details of their fertility journeys, including using donor eggs to get pregnant.
However, we can share this testimonial from one of our patients:
“My review is a bit late, but any first time parent can tell you time gets away from you faster than you know! We went to Dr Jain after a failed year and a half of fertility attempts with another doctor in Beverly Hills. The bottom line was my eggs were just not viable, and I just wish my previous doctor had been more upfront about that rather than go through cycle after cycle with bad results at a huge expense.
As a last hope we met with Dr Jain to discuss my options for using frozen donor eggs. He was super informative and patient with all our questions while being very honest about our chances for conception. Just hearing his understanding of what our situation had been and addressing how we could move forward, he showed himself to be a standout in the field and I only wish we had gone to him sooner. Additionally, he surrounds himself with an amazing support staff. They were very professional in everything they did from interactions and correspondence, to even the simplest thing like making sure they spaced scheduling appropriately, so you were not sitting in the waiting room for an hour past your appointment time still waiting to be seen- this was not the case with my previous specialist.
For an endeavor that can leave you with continuous frayed nerves, Dr Jain and his staff did their best to ensure we were well informed and treated with respect and dignity throughout the entire process. I’m happy to say with the frozen donor eggs I was able to get pregnant on the first attempt at age 41. While it would be impossible to express the full level of gratitude we have for the result of our beautiful boy, I do know he wouldn’t be here without Dr Jain and I am happy to recommend him and the staff at Santa Monica Fertility” – S
For more patient testimonials and reviews, please see our reviews page here.
Pregnancy with Donor Eggs or Adoption
Both pregnancy with donor eggs or adoption of a child are completely worthwhile ways of having a baby. There is no one “right” or “wrong” way to go about the journey of bringing a child into your life, and no one can make this decision for you and your family but you.
We do not specialize in adoption, so the information we can offer about this option is limited. But we can highlight the main benefits using donor eggs to have a baby can offer you:
- You get to experience pregnancy and birth.
- The baby can be genetically related to the male partner, if there is one, by using his sperm
- Although you, as the mother, are not genetically related to the infant, by carrying the baby you still influence the baby’s development in ways that may not at first be obvious to you. These fetal environmental influences are known as epigenetics and you can read more about donor egg epigenetics in our dedicated article here.
Getting Pregnant with Donor Eggs
Getting pregnant with donor eggs is an incredible option for those women who, for a variety of reasons, cannot use their own eggs to become pregnant. Whether that reason is an advanced maternal age, premature ovarian failure or even if you are in menopause or post-menopausal, donor eggs can make it possible for you to become pregnant and deliver a healthy baby.
At Santa Monica Fertility, due to our many years of experience with thousands of patients, and our expert knowledge, your chances of becoming pregnant using a donor egg are very high. While any pregnancy carries with it some risks, we work to minimize those risks with careful screening of our egg donors, to maximize the chance they will produce healthy eggs.
See this page for more information on preparing for a donor egg pregnancy and this page on the differences between using fresh or frozen donor eggs.
In addition, our FAQ on egg donation and using donor eggs may be helpful to you as well.
We understand how important it is to have all the information you need to make the decision that is best for you and your family. Please contact us if you need more information or have any questions at all about pregnancy with a donor egg. Or simply call us directly at 310-566-1470. We would be delighted to speak with you!
You can view our exceptional egg donors available for fresh and frozen cycles online for free, at Santa Monica Donor Egg Bank here.