Who needs an egg donor?
- Women who aren't born with ovaries.
- Women who have genetic disorders that make their eggs not function. And in those type of patients, the best chance of having a child is to use donor eggs. If they have a uterus, they can still carry the embryo and have a healthy pregnancy.
- Other couples that need donor eggs are same-sex male couples. If there is no egg, they would need a donor egg and they would also need a gestational carrier. Couples who have tried several times to do IVF on their own and are not successful, sometimes the next step is to use donor eggs to help create an embryo.
- Transgender couples.
Trans men have a chromosome of 46 XX so they do generally have eggs.
Again, age is the biggest indicator if someone's able to make an embryo. So, if a trans man is still young and in their reproductive years, even if they've been on hormone therapy like testosterone for a long time, typically, they will still have lots of eggs and they probably won’t need to use donor eggs.
For someone who's a trans woman, they don't have eggs of their own because their chromosomes are 46 XY and so they would also need donor eggs and they would need a gestational carrier because they don’t have the uterus either. But a trans man who is 46 XX could potentially get pregnant naturally or with IVF.
Unfortunately, success rates and things like that are very hard to say because there's really a lack of data on pregnancies from that population but definitely there are many stories of trans men in the media that have been pregnant naturally. So, in that population, if they want to avoid pregnancy is always best to use birth control because testosterone alone is not enough to assure that they don't ovulate. Obviously, some people won't, but it's not guaranteed.
Egg donation between sisters: a story with a happy ending
I had a couple where a sister donated the eggs to her sister who had primary ovarian insufficiency. She was in her early-early thirties and the couple went in to try to find out why they weren't getting pregnant.
And she thought she was having monthly periods and so when we did the blood testing her ovarian reserve was at a point where she was in menopause.
So, the sister actually donated eggs and she was able to carry the pregnancy. So that's a really nice story.
You can do it with a known donor or people can do anonymous donations. But keep in mind that those women who donate eggs should be in their early 20s to early-early 30s. Because they're so young the success rates are generally much higher.