Egg donation has proven to be an effective solution for intended mothers who cannot use their own eggs, either due to age or a medical condition. It is also used by same-sex males and intended fathers. At times, however, egg donation is unsuccessful. It’s important to understand some of the unique challenges of this process so that you can continue moving forward.
Here are a few explanations for why an egg donation cycle can fail:
If a woman is too young or too old, she may yield poorer quality eggs, or have a diminished ovarian reserve. For younger women, less than half of the eggs are euploid (or have the normal number of chromosomes). Abnormal or aneuploid eggs cannot properly develop into embryos. Younger egg donors are also more susceptible to Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, covered in point 4 below. The prime age for donating eggs is between 26-35 years old.
Eggs can sometimes fail to properly fertilize in the uterus. An Embryo Grading System is a rating system used by IVF doctors to determine the quality of an embryo, but even high ratings can result in a failed donation cycle. Sometimes there are genetic defects apparent in the embryo that contribute to the failed IVF transfer. Poor egg quality can also be the result of certain lifestyle choices, such as excessive drinking, smoking, or drug abuse.
In some cases, the sperm source is the cause for infertility, not necessarily the egg donor. This may occur if there is a defect with the DNA carried in the sperm. This may be a result of various lifestyle choices, such as alcohol or tobacco abuse.
Donors must prepare their eggs and uterus by injecting a series of hormones. These medications may feature a series of side effects, including fatigue, body aches, fluid retention, breast or ovary tenderness, moodiness, and weight gain. However, too much hormone medication increases the risk for Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHS), where the woman’s ovaries become swollen. This could cause nausea, diarrhea, and even blood clots. Make sure to consult your doctor about the recommended dosage and to follow instructions carefully.
Donors may engage in unprotected sex, or experience issues with contraception during the egg donation cycle. In these cases, the eggs that are not retrieved (or released before retrieval) could be affected and lead to an unwanted pregnancy. Always follow the instructions and guidelines outlined by your doctor to prevent this and ensure a successful egg donation cycle.
The cause for IVF failure can also occur in the last stage of process, during the implantation. The egg and sperm may both be healthy, but polyps, cysts, poor blood flow, and a thin uterine lining may lead to a failed implantation of the embryo.
One of the top causes for a failed transfer is a thin endometrium or uterine lining. The intended mother or surrogate is usually given medication to prepare her uterus and is monitored in the weeks prior to her transfer, but complications may still arise. If a thin uterine lining is discovered, the doctor may suggest canceling implantation due to the possibility of an unstable environment for the egg.
Technology has improved rapidly since its introduction in 1983. Even now, however, there are still lessons to be learned, and the success rate is not yet 100%. Until that day, the egg donor must take proper care of her body and health to mitigate the possible causes for a failed egg donation.
Avoid unhealthy lifestyle choices. Make sure to abstain or limit smoking, alcohol consumption, and other drug use as this could impact the quality of the eggs. Make sure to maintain a balanced diet and exercise routine. If you are an intended mother or gestational carrier follow all instructions from your doctor to ensure you are properly suited for a transfer.
For more information on egg donation, read some of our other egg donor blog posts, such as 7 Common Questions About Egg Donation.
If you’re interested in becoming an egg donor, learn the steps to become one yourself.
For more useful updates, resources, and guides on egg donation and surrogacy, visit the ConceiveAbilities blog today.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.