Understanding How Infertility Leads to the Need for a Donor Egg

Published on Friday April 16th, 2021 by WCS

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week {NIAW}, which gives the fertility care community an opportunity to raise awareness about the nuances of infertility, fertility treatment options, and nontraditional family-building. While some forms of assisted reproduction, such as in vitro fertilization (IVF), have become increasingly prevalent and accepted in recent years, other forms, such as egg donation, continue to be misunderstood by the public.

Infertility and Ovarian Reserve

A big part of the NIAW movement is dispelling myths about infertility and educating others about why reproductive care and third-party reproduction are necessary for modern family-building. Reproduction is a complex system and it’s important to realize that there are many conditions that can have a negative impact on a woman’s ovarian reserve.

Ovarian reserve refers to the overall quantity and quality of a woman’s eggs. If a woman has a low egg count or poor egg quality, it can be difficult for her to create a healthy embryo, resulting in failed pregnancy attempts or miscarriages. Ovarian reserve issues can be caused by various factors and conditions, such as:

  • Premature ovarian failure – A condition in which menopause occurs before the age of 40 due to a decrease in estrogen production, resulting in the cessation of ovulation
  • Cancer treatments – Common cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, are known to cause damage to a woman’s eggs and inhibit an ovary’s ability to release eggs
  • Aging – As a woman gets older, her eggs naturally deteriorate in both number and quality, which is known as a diminished ovarian reserve
  • Endometriosis – An autoimmune condition in which the lining of the uterus grows onto other reproductive organs, such as the ovaries, which can negatively impact egg quality

While some women with ovarian-related infertility conditions are able to conceive through assisted reproductive techniques such as IVF, many cannot. For these women, the ability to have a biologically related child has been taken out of their control, often leading to a crushing blow of grief and hopelessness.

However, egg donation offers hope to these infertile couples and individuals. In egg donation, healthy eggs from a donor are retrieved and fertilized with sperm from a partner or donor. Once a viable embryo has been created, it’s then transferred into the recipient’s uterus. If successful, the embryo will attach to the uterine wall where it will develop and grow into an infant over the course of approximately 40 weeks.

Many people incorrectly assume that it’s difficult for mothers to bond with a baby not genetically related to them. However, what those people don’t realize is that individuals and couples who need the help of an egg donor are so grateful for the ability to have a child at all. They have spent countless nights dreaming of the moment they will have a sweet cooing baby in their arms. While it might not be the way they had planned to become parents, using a donor egg has the possibility of bringing them closer to achieving that dream.

Changing the Conversation

Whether you’re an intended parent, an egg donor, an advocate, or an ally, the greatest weapons we have in our arsenal are communication and education. By imparting our collective knowledge and perspective, we can help change the way people talk about infertility, third-party reproduction, and egg donation. To see how you can get involved in National Infertility Awareness Week, visit RESOLVE’s website. To learn more about egg donation, contact West Coast Egg Donation today.