July 2010 eNews
The Egg Donor Perspective: Three Egg Donors, Three Stories
Many people, particularly donor egg recipients, wonder what motivates women to donate their eggs. Who chooses to donate their eggs, and why do they do it? Read on for three very different stories from three egg donors who each chose to donate the gift of hope, the gift of life.
It has been over ten years since Anna first became an egg donor. A little about Anna: she is a scientist with a PhD in molecular reproductive biology and a tri-athlete who is passionate about ironman triathlons and adventure races. She first learned of egg donation when she lived in Washington, DC and happened to see a GIVF ad in the newspaper for egg donors. Seeing the ad made Anna remember a woman she had previously worked with who had dealt with infertility. She recalled how profoundly infertility had impacted her co-worker; until then Anna had never seen the toll infertility can take on an individual who deeply desires to have a child. It made Anna think, “maybe I could do something to help people.”
After she learned everything about the egg donation process and what would be required of her, as well as passed all the necessary requirements and screening, Anna knew she was making the right decision. Understanding the stress infertility can create for infertile individuals and couples, Anna felt wonderful to know she was helping people. The impact she was making really hit home when a recipient left a gift basket and note with GIVF for her. The note said “to our wonderful donor, we have been through IVF cycles so we know the commitment and discomfort you have had to go through to help us start a family.” Years later, Anna still has the note.
Anna shared her decision to donate her eggs with her family and says they were very supportive of her choice. She was more selective in which friends to tell and says their reactions varied quite a bit. She was always sure to mention it fairly early in any romantic relationship, just in case it was a problem, but says “it never was, but if it had been I would have had to think hard about the relationship, because it really is part of what defines me even now.”
It has been six years since she completed her last egg donation cycle and Anna is still content with her decision of egg donation, as well as her life in general. She is very happy with her home, career, and athletic endeavors. While she has never desired children of her own, she finds it comforting to know she helped other people achieve their dreams. When asked if she ever wonders about the families she helped create, she says “I do often wonder about that.” Although she has no interest in meeting them, she hopes the families are happy.
When asked what advice she would give to other women about egg donation, she says “I found it a big commitment, a worthwhile one, but I don’t think everyone is cut out for it. I think you need to be very comfortable with yourself and know what you want in life.” She also added that someone needs to be prepared for the mental and physical effects from the cycles, but as she found, if someone is committed to donating for the sake of helping others, it makes the side effects and inconveniences worth it.
Michelle’s story as an egg donor started over five years ago when she was in her early 20s and just starting her marketing career in the Washington, DC area. Like many young professionals of that age, she was struggling to make the most of a modest salary. One night while talking about these challenges with friends, someone mentioned the egg donor program at GIVF as a possible solution to Michelle’s struggle.
Shortly thereafter, Michelle looked into the egg donor program and after much research found it to be a very easy decision. She says, “I considered all of the elements involved and the potential negatives just weren’t strong enough to outweigh the positives, and in the long run, the experience turned into being more about helping someone else and less about the money.” After completing the maximum amount of cycles allowed for an egg donor, she has “absolutely no regrets.” Knowing people who have faced infertility treatment, she says “to know how much they wanted to have babies and how hard they tried to get there just made it that much more rewarding for me.”
When asked if she ever wonders about the families she helped to create, Michelle says that while it makes her very happy to have been able to help others achieve their dreams, she doesn’t over think the possibilities. “The process and the folks at GIVF were a very important part of my life for a while, but I see it as a mission that I’ve completed. The families that have been created with my help are off doing their own thing. It’s lovely to know I could help, but now they’re on their own!”
Michelle was and still is very open with family and friends about having been an egg donor, “I have always been extremely open about it, including why I did it, how the whole process played out, and how much I trust everyone at GIVF.” She enjoys sharing stories with friends and coworkers, which educates others about egg donation. She encourages other young women to consider donating if they feel comfortable with the idea of egg donation, as well as everything the donation process entails. While Michelle found the doctor’s visits, injections, and egg retrieval procedure to be relatively easy, she encourages someone to “trust their gut” as to whether egg donation is right for them or not.
Now, Michelle and her husband are ready to start a family of their own. With her experience as an egg donor, she feels very prepared for pregnancy because part of the journey is already familiar to her. Looking back at her history as an egg donor, she says “it’s a very big part of who I am because I did it numerous times over several years. However, it didn’t require all that much sacrifice on my end and I don’t have any regrets. Most importantly, it gave me the chance to give someone a child they wanted, which created a family. While I don’t have the chance to think about it much because I’m living my own busy life every day, when I do think about it, it sure makes me proud.”
Kate is in her early 20s and just recently became an egg donor at GIVF. In fact, she just finished her first egg donation cycle not too long ago. When she’s not working full-time or attending college classes, she can be found playing volleyball, riding horses, singing, playing guitar, or reading. She first heard about the egg donor program at GIVF through her sister and says, “I didn’t have to think twice.” Upon learning about the program, she felt (and still feels) that it was her opportunity to donate “the greatest gift of all, life.”
“I’ve always been a giving person, so it gives me great joy to know that I am able to give a loving couple hope in creating a family.” Kate says she may have a passing thought every now and then about the recipient family, but it isn’t something she dwells on. She is more concerned with the opportunity to contribute and help others in need, which she says has been “such a fulfilling experience.”
Kate has been very open with her family and friends about her decision to become an egg donor. They have all been extremely supportive and understanding of her decision, something she values a great deal. Her experience so far as an egg donor has been such a gratifying one that she whole-heartedly encourages other young women to explore egg donation. What’s up next for Kate? She looks forward to finishing her degree, pursuing a career in healthcare, and starting a family of her own one day.
To browse our current egg donor database, click here.
What's New at GIVF
Cycle in the Summer™ has been extended until August 15, 2010! Learn more about the most affordable IVF option in DC here (contract must be signed, approved, and paid by August 15, 2010).
Preserve your fertility with Personal Egg Banking™, available now at GIVF. Schedule a free consultation here.
Concierge Services are available for international and out-of-town patients planning to travel to GIVF. Our concierge can take care of all your travel arrangements and help you make the most of your trip to GIVF. Learn more here.
Infertility Patient Support Groups are held on a monthly basis at GIVF. Attendance is free and you need not be a GIVF patient to attend. Click here to see schedules for the General Infertility and Donor Egg IVF support groups.
New Aetna benefits option for IVF patients promotes use of elective single embryo transfer (eSET). Effective July 1, 2010, Aetna offers a new, voluntary flexible benefit to promote eSET in women whose insurance benefits allow it, and for whom it is medically appropriate. This benefit allows an eligible member who attempts eSET but does not get pregnant to be approved for a subsequent frozen embryo transfer cycle (FET) using a single embryo. This FET cycle will not be counted against the member's IVF benefits cycle limit. To get this additional FET cycle, the cycle must also transfer a single embryo, and it must be the next cycle that follows the eSET cycle. Contact Aetna for more information.
What is the difference between primary and secondary infertility?
by Stephen R. Lincoln, MD, FACOG
Sometimes couples are intimidated by fertility terms and the exact definitions can seem like a mystery, leaving the couple too embarrassed to ask for clarification. Here are two frequently used terms and the generally accepted definitions:
Primary infertility: failure to have ever achieved a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse.
Secondary infertility: failure to become pregnant again after 12 months or more of regular unprotected intercourse when you have already delivered one child or more.
The differences between primary and secondary infertility patients are minor if at all in practical terms of the severity of the infertility. The infertility investigations are the same, the treatments are the same, and the general prognosis is the same if all other factors are equal (age, duration of infertility, lab results, etc.). In the past some have suggested secondary infertility couples may have a better prognosis because they have “proven the system has worked,” but there are no clear studies in the literature confirming this line of reasoning. Also, secondary infertility couples may tend to be a little older and advancing age can clearly have a lower prognosis.
Evaluation and treatment of primary or secondary infertility should begin after 12 months of attempting pregnancy in couples where the female partner is under 35, or as soon as 6 months if she is 35 or older. Even earlier evaluation and treatments may be justified based on certain medical or surgical history. For example, one does not need to wait 12 months to seek treatment if the couple has had a vasectomy or tubal ligation and want to conceive. Similarly, if the female partner has long history of irregular menstrual cycles greater than 35 days suggesting anovulation, evaluation and treatment does not have to wait.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Lincoln, click here.
The Genetics & IVF Institute (GIVF) regularly releases an informative newsletter featuring the latest infertility news and developments. The newsletter is sent electronically via email. To subscribe, click here.