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Fertility Treatment Options to Consider Before Egg Donation

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March 23, 2013

Women with high follicle stimulating hormone (FSH), premature ovarian failure, or a history of failed cycles using their own eggs often face the crossroad of trying to conceive with an alternative fertility treatment protocol and their own eggs, or pursuing egg donation. Fertility doctors are continually researching ways to help these women conceive with their own eggs and it seems one option is to take a gentle approach toward ovarian stimulation.

Susan Trout, M.D., Medical Director of Colorado Reproductive Endocrinology in Denver understands a patient’s psychological need to cycle with her own eggs before moving on to donor egg IVF. “There are obviously great benefits to having your own genetic child and we don’t want our patients looking back and saying ‘what if?’ I have seen patients use donor egg and then get pregnant with their own eggs,” she states.

For patients with high FSH or young women with premature ovarian failure, Dr. Trout devises a fertility treatment protocol for each patient on a case by case basis. Women with ovarian reserve issues are sensitive to the suppression effects of birth control pills and Lupron. Because of this, fertility doctors may opt to prescribe estrogen supplementation before the woman’s cycle begins and use fertility drugs like Ganirelix and Cetrotide to suppress FSH and Luteinizing Hormone (LH). Alternatively, a Microdose Lupron Flare protocol may be used which administers a small dose of FSH to prevent overexposure to the already elevated hormone. Dr. Trout also instructs her patients to take a DHEA supplement in conjunction with their fertility treatment cycle, as current data shows an increased number of eggs retrieved and more receptive uterine lining with DHEA use.

Older women with FSH levels greater than 15 are presented with a treatment protocol of Clomid or intrauterine insemination (IUI) with their own eggs to give them the peace of mind that they tried everything before considering egg donation. Trout advises: “Older patients do better not going into IVF. Their eggs don’t like being manipulated in the lab because they are a little more fragile, so IUI or a Clomid cycle is recommended.” Fertility patients under the age of 35 who have FSH levels above 15 are candidates for IVF because of their age.

When it comes to having the donor egg talk with fertility patients, Dr. Trout says she thoroughly reviews success rates with own egg versus donor egg IVF, odds of miscarriage, and the chance of having a child with Down Syndrome. “Getting them pregnant is half the battle,” she says. Dr. Trout believes that equipping patients with the data to make an educated decision about their fertility treatment while delivering the information in a tactful manner is important.

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