What to Expect From Pregnancy With An Egg or Sperm Donor

Posted On: December 10, 2021 By Nathan D. Fox, MD

If you’re considering pregnancy using a donor, there can be a lot to learn. Chances are, it feels a little overwhelming – therefore, it can be helpful to know what to expect from the process and how your maternal fetal medicine specialist can help. Here’s what to know about it from Dr. Erkan Buyuk, our guest on Healthful Women hosted by Dr. Nathan Fox.

Why Do People Use Egg Donors?

There are a few different causes of pregnancies that require egg donation. “…the main reason is what we call diminished ovarian reserve, basically, lack of eggs,” Dr. Buyuk says. Some women have primary ovarian insufficiency where very few eggs are left by the age of 40, meaning they have a very low chance of becoming pregnant (about 5-10%). For these patients, IVF or other fertility treatments are not effective, meaning egg donation can be the best option. For these patients, Dr. Buyuk explains, egg donation can increase their chances of having a baby to about 50-60% per cycle.

Additionally, women in their 40s and 50s might also pursue egg donation. This is because their chances of becoming pregnant using their own eggs (even with IVF) can be low. Finally, male couples might pursue egg donation.

Why Do People Use Sperm Donors?

One reason for using donated sperm is azoospermia, or the absence of sperm in the male partner. It can be caused by a blockage (obstructive) or decreased sperm production (nonobstrutive). In either case, it can be difficult to find viable sperm for pregnancy. Women may also opt for sperm donation if they are non-partnered or in a same-sex relationship.

How are Egg and Sperm Donors Found?

Egg donors can come from a few different sources. Dr. Buyuk explains that they can be “anonymous versus directed. Directed means somebody is using eggs from someone, it can be a young sister, often, a young niece, a young cousin, or a young friend, or it can be anonymous, somebody they don’t know.” In either case, eggs can be frozen ahead of time or used when they’re viable. Egg donors can be found from agencies that partner couples or singles with donors. If they’re found to be compatible, then an in-depth process of screening and testing is done. Generally, after eggs are donated, the donor parts ways with the recipient(s).

Using a directed donor can come with benefits. “For example, the advantage of the director donor is if she’s a relative, then you share some genes. So that’s one of the main reasons why people prefer. It may be less expensive because it is almost completely compassionate.” However, there can be complications that come with a directed donor, Dr. Buyuk says. There can be “social or psychological problems in the future with a directed donor. For anonymous, those social psychological problems are generally less common.” These can come about later in the child’s life when learning about the donation process.

Sperm donation works similarly, where recipients can choose directed or anonymous donors. In the case of anonymous donors, they’re usually given limited medical information and physical characteristics of the donor.

To read more about sperm and egg donation, listen to Dr. Buyuk’s interview on Healthful Women.

Schedule an Appointment

Becoming pregnant through egg and sperm donation can be a complicated process. To learn more and meet with our team, contact Carnegie Imaging for Women by calling our New York City office or filling out our online form.

Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!

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