Ian is the bolder and more reckless of the two 12-month old twins. Toby is the quieter, more connected one. The healthy baby boys are the sons of an anonymous woman who wrote about her experience with donor-egg in vitro fertilization (IVF) in Fit Pregnancy and Baby.
The new mother noted that there is social stigma attached to making this decision, that "few women admit to going this route." Getting eggs from a donor may not be as out in the open as some other fertility methods, but it is being widely used. The mother mentions healthy births among celebrities in their mid- to late-forties, including Geena Davis (actress), Nancy Grace (TV host), and Elizabeth Edwards (late wife of politician John Edwards). The mother said that one can reasonably assume those births all involved donor eggs since the chance of pregnancy for a woman who is 44 or above is a very low 0.8 percent.
Although celebrities may not talk enough about their experiences with egg donation, one celebrity did give a big hint that she had used this option. "When a woman gets older, they get donor eggs," said Marcia Cross of Desperate Housewives after giving birth to twin girls at 44 years old.
Why choose donor-egg IVF?
If you are considering donor-egg IVF, the statistics are certainly compelling. Again, it is a very common choice. 1 in 8 in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles, approximately 16,000, that occur in the United States each year are donor-egg IVF, according to figures from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More convincingly, the same federal agency found that this form of fertility treatment is more effective than any other, with a 52% overall success rate across the country – and with many clinics offering substantially higher success rates than that.
How do you choose a strong fertility clinic though, so that you know your egg donation specialist really has expertise, as well as your best interests at heart?
Tip #1 – Check the background.
Women's health nonprofit HealthyWomen recommends that you want to know that the clinic has been in business for years, and that it treats a sizable number of patients via donor-egg IVF annually. You may want to know about restrictions related to weight (e.g., BMI must be under a certain number), age, or negative screening for hepatitis B and C or AIDS. Finally, the nonprofit suggests checking if you can get screening for congenital disorders such as cystic fibrosis or Down syndrome.
Tip #2 – Review success rates.
It is impossible for a fertility clinic to have a 100% success rate – simply because the practice can't control everything that goes on within the bodies of patients. That said, you really want to know that your fertility clinic has a success rate that is as high as possible, as suggested by infertility resource IHR.com. The good news is that this information is transparent: the CDC requires in vitro fertilization clinics to provide it with their success rates each year. Be aware that the CDC rates are typically delayed in processing (with three-year-old data at “press time”).
IHR recommends looking at the Annual ART Success Rate Reports produced through the CDC’s ART Clinic Data – the government’s way of logging and monitoring the effectiveness of assistive reproductive technology. (If you want to see sample reports, here are ours: 2009 ART Outcomes / 2010 ART Outcomes / 2011 ART Outcomes / 2012 ART Outcomes / 2013 ART Outcomes / 2014 ART Outcomes.)
Tip #3 – Consider bedside manner.
Bedside manner is not essential to receiving good care, and you may feel driven to doctors based purely on their expertise. However, it may be important to your comfort during the experience. If you do have a need for someone more approachable, don't disregard that. "Your fertility doctor and nurses will become an intimate part of your family for months or years," noted Parenting, "so make sure that you trust them and like them."
You really do want to have peace of mind in your choice of an egg donation specialist, since there are lasting health implications – and not just for the baby. A recent study (published in 2016 in the Journal of Physiology) showed that stress during pregnancy can lead to long-term health problems in women.
Tip #4 – Make sure you understand the process.
While you may want your doctor to have good bedside manner, you also want to know the path forward – since that will contribute to your comfort too. HealthyWomen advised finding out about the tests that the fertility clinic will want to perform prior to treatment. Also understand the timeline and each of the different steps, said the nonprofit. Find out when the process can begin and how often you will need to stop by the clinic.
Taking the next step
Are you considering which clinic to choose as your egg donation specialist? At the California Center for Reproductive Health, Dr. Mor and his team have helped many couples achieve their dream of becoming parents through this uniquely customized fertility treatment. See our success rates.