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16. 11. 2021

When to switch from IVF with your eggs to egg donation?


Is there an age threshold beyond which women should start choosing egg donation over IVF with their eggs? If not, what does the treatment decision depend on? You might have already asked yourself these questions. Age certainly influences this choice, but it is not the only factor to consider. 

Physicians recommend egg donation whenever women are not capable of producing ripe, healthy eggs anymore. The variables that can have an impact on this are various. Age plays a crucial role in fertility. Every woman is born with her oocytes, and she will draw from this ovarian reserve throughout her reproductive life. This implies the eggs grow old together with her, and their quality will decrease over time. The eggs usually reach their optimal quality between 20 and 30 years of age, and it is typically good until 35 years of age and acceptable until 40. After this age, it usually is quite difficult to get pregnant with one’s own eggs. However, these are just average numbers rather than established thresholds. Each woman’s situation needs to be analyzed carefully by doctors to understand if IVF with one’s oocytes is still a feasible option or not. 

Other factors influencing the choice can be prematurely low ovarian reserve, another diagnosis like endometriosis or surgery. Ovarian reserve is not just a matter of the quantity of the oocytes but also their quality. Although this is hard to estimate, it usually moves together with a patient’s age, although in opposite directions, as explained above. 

Physicians, therefore, recommend egg donation to patients who have a scarce ovarian reserve, whose ovaries do not react to stimulation anymore, or who have already absorbed several IVF cycles with unfavourable results. Unfortunately, IVF with one’s eggs does not always lead to positive outcomes. In case of repeated implantation failure or repeated miscarriages with 3 or more IVF attempts, it is probably time to consider alternative solutions. 

At Unica, we understand that switching to egg donation can be more difficult for some patients than for others. However, finding a balance between mental health and physical health is crucial to the success of any IVF treatment. That is why we offer couples the possibility to consult a psychologist. Patients coming from abroad can also choose to have consultations in their country of origin, close to their home. As part of our holistic fertility approach, we decided to partner with experts in different geographical areas to ensure that patients can get the support they want whenever they need it. 

Despite all the general guidelines, only the consultation with a physician will determine if a patient still has meaningful chances of conceiving through IVF with her eggs or if it is time to opt for egg donation. At Unica, our doctors analyze each patient’s situation individually to ensure a correct diagnosis. Please feel free to contact us if you want to know more about the treatment that best suits your situation.

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