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Egg Donation: Who Can Consider the Option?

“Egg donation is generally used when someone's egg supply is at a level where they're not going to get any eggs, or we're not going to get eggs of high enough quality to create an embryo. Some people have what is called premature ovarian insufficiency. And that can be caused by a number of things.” — Dr. Tiffanny Jones, a knowledgeable and caring IVF physician from Dallas who helps patients become parents, tells Flo when egg donation is an option.

Interview has been edited for clarity.

Who needs an egg donor?

According to Dr. Jones, egg donation is a helpful option in the following situations:

  • Ovaries are missing from the reproductive tract. 
  • Eggs are not functional due to genetic disorders: “In this case, the best chance of having a child is to use donor eggs. If a person has a uterus, they can still carry the embryo and have a healthy pregnancy.” 
  • Same-sex male couples: “If there is no egg, they would need a donor egg, and they would also need a gestational carrier.” 
  • Several IVF (In vitro fertilization) attempts have been unsuccessful.  
  • Trans women don’t have ovaries or a uterus, so they need a donor and gestational carrier. On the other hand, trans men generally have eggs, as long as they have ovaries, but age is the biggest indicator of whether someone is able to make an embryo. So as long as they’re in their reproductive years, they’ll have lots of eggs and probably won’t need a donor, even if they’ve been on hormone therapy for a long time. They have the option of getting pregnant naturally or using IVF (​​In vitro fertilization) if they want to carry a baby to term. 

Dr. Jones says that, unfortunately, success rates and similar metrics are very hard to define for trans and gender-nonconforming people because there's a lack of data on pregnancies in that community.  

Egg donation between sisters: A story with a happy ending

Dr. Jones tells a story in her practice about a woman with primary ovarian insufficiency who received donated eggs from her sister. “She was in her early thirties, and the couple went in to try to find out why they weren't getting pregnant. She thought she was having monthly periods, but when we did blood testing, her ovarian reserve was at a point where she was in menopause. So, the sister donated eggs, and she was able to carry the pregnancy.” 

Dr. Jones says that egg donation can be done with a known donor, or people can do anonymous donations. But it’s important to keep in mind that people who donate eggs should be in their early 20s to early 30s. “Because they're so young, the success rates are generally much higher.”