Using eggs from a younger donor can contribute to IVF success and significantly improve a woman’s chances of pregnancy.
This is because the age of the egg is, in many cases, a more important factor than the age of the woman (if considered separately than her eggs) in influencing the likelihood of success from IVF treatment.
Aging Process of Eggs
To understand why donor eggs can be so helpful, it is crucial to understand how the number and quality of eggs affect the ability to become pregnant.
Women are born with all the eggs that they will ever have. More precisely, they are born with one to two million immature eggs (follicles) in their ovaries. This may sound like a lot but only about 500 (about 0.05%) of these ovulate over the course of a woman’s life. Furthermore, the number of eggs (the egg reserve) decreases steadily during a woman’s lifetime from ovulation and wasting, eventually to the point where there aren’t enough left to give a reasonable chance of pregnancy, even aided by IVF.
Also, women’s eggs tend to decline in quality as they age, often accumulating chromosomal abnormalities. The decline in number and quality are the two main reasons why IVF procedures fail more often in women 42 and older when using the patient’s own eggs.
This is a consequence of how time changes the body, and in particular, a woman’s ovaries and eggs. In contrast, under most circumstances, the hormonal and uterine capacity for pregnancy is more durable than the capacity for the ovaries to naturally produce viable eggs.
The effect of aging on fertility and how we all age is apparent when you take into consideration women who have frozen their eggs from the peak years of their fertility. If they choose to have IVF with their frozen eggs in their late 30s or 40s, their rate of success in most cases will be closer to women of the same age who have IVF with young donor eggs than with women who chose to use their own eggs (that were not frozen).
At LA IVF, we help women who are not ready to have children to freeze their eggs while at their peak fertility so that they have more options down the road.
Donor Eggs and Increased Chances of Success
Using eggs from a younger donor is an option that boosts the chance of success.
The statistics are heartening for women in their 40s.
According to the CDC, in 2011, among women younger than 35, the percentage of IVF transfers (using fresh embryos) that resulted in a live birth was 46%. This dropped steadily as a woman aged, down to 2% for women over the age of 44
Using donor eggs, 55% of transfers (fresh embryos) resulted in a live birth.
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART) found similar results for 2012, with 57% of donor egg transfers using fresh embryos resulting in a live birth.
The statistics show that many of the women who used donor eggs did so because of a problem with their own eggs. Using donor eggs, the chance of a live birth was higher than the chances of a woman under 35 who used her own eggs. We see improved odds all the time at LA IVF with women who opt to use donor eggs when those women are no longer at peak fertility.
Additional Options Involving Donor Eggs
Using donor eggs isn’t only an option for women with low egg reserve. It can also make sense for women who have had ovarian surgery, previously unsuccessful IVF procedures or early menopause. Donor eggs can resolve many causes of infertility.
Some women may be reluctant to use donor eggs because of genetic differences from their own eggs. One way to minimize this problem is to use the eggs of a younger relative. Others opt to use the donor eggs of friends while women can outline their preferences if they choose to go with eggs from a donor agency.
Whether using donor eggs is right for you is a highly personal question that only you can decide. Understanding that it may make pregnancy much more likely should be one part of that decision. Many of the women who choose to use their own eggs for their first treatment and the treatment is unsuccessful eventually choose to use donor eggs during later treatments.
If you’d like to discuss IVF using donor eggs or have any questions about IVF, you can call us or write us at LA IVF.