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Emotionally Preparing for Donor Egg IVF

December 7, 2012

Whether you’ve experienced several failed IVF cycles, or have an AMH level that reflects need for donor egg, it can be emotionally exhausting to prepare yourself for a donor egg IVF cycle.

You may feel psychologically ready to move on to a donor egg cycle, or perhaps you are hoping your partner is on the same page. James P. Lin, M.D. of the Reproductive Fertility Center in Irvine, CA, says the donor egg discussion is a very difficult one to have. “Women are more ready [to pursue donor egg IVF] although it is not their biological child. For men, it is a tough question to ask. If he says yes, he might be perceived as not caring.” Dr. Lin jokes that the donor egg question can be as emotionally charged as a woman asking her husband “Do I look pretty?”

Couples must be on the same page and must work through their emotions before moving forward in the process. Having a consultation with a fertility doctor will help the couple gage their readiness for donor egg, both medically and psychologically, and will allow them to explore all options for building their family. Lin declares, “Almost always if not 100% of the time, donor egg IVF cycles lead to happiness.” The outcome is more about the delivery of a healthy child and recognizing the increased success rates versus using one’s own eggs with repeated disappointment.

The donor egg process requires psychological evaluation for both parties. The donor is medically and psychologically screened for acceptance into the donor program. The couple may be psychologically screened for readiness to accept donor egg, though this is most often the case when a known donor is selected.

When it comes to encouraging a patient to explore donor egg options, it isn’t always an easy task for fertility doctors to embrace. Couples may need time to grieve and prepare themselves for the next steps. However, patients today are more educated are aware of the statistics. They are presented with the results of their ovarian reserve, FSH, Estradiol, AMH, or Clomid Challenge Test and understand the odds are not in their favor. “Most patients come to the conclusion on their own. If the chance of conceiving with their own eggs is less than 5%, they know it is not likely to happen. Those ranging 5-20% have differing opinions”, says Lin. If the numbers don’t make sense, they mentally prepare themselves to move forward.

Couples may experience stress and concern regarding their donor’s progress in a fresh cycle. Dr. Lin encourages his patients to work as a team with clinical coordinators, egg donor agencies, and their fertility doctor asking questions to help them through the process. Alternatively, patients can utilize a frozen egg bank for obtaining donor eggs. There are fewer associated risks, thus emotional upheavals, as the donor has already successfully completed her cycle and her frozen eggs are available quickly if not immediately. By maintaining communication with your fertility doctor, they can ease you through the donor egg process and provide reassurance where needed.

If couples are still feeling the psychological impact of a donor egg IVF cycle, they should consult a mental health treatment provider or look for social support via support groups and online forums, like Fertile Thoughts.


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