In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a good way to conceive a child when you're having difficulty getting pregnant or otherwise cannot procreate via sexual intercourse. While fertility doctors prefer to use the mothers' eggs so the child has a genetic connection to them, there are times when the healthcare provider will recommend donor eggs, even in cases when the mothers are still producing their own. Here are two of those times.
When You Reach a Certain Age
Unlike people with testicles who manufacture new sperm every two to three months, people with ovaries are born with a large supply of ovum and it's generally believed they don't produce anymore in their lifetime (though recent studies have challenged that idea). As they age, so do the ovum they carry and, unfortunately, that ovum decrease in quantity and quality with each passing year.
The lower the quality of ovum, the harder it is to conceive and carry a child to full term. Additionally, the low quality also increases the risk of birth defects. So the older you are, the more likely the fertility doctor will recommend donor eggs, especially if you also have issues that further negatively impact ovum quality, such as having undergone chemotherapy or suffering from an autoimmune disorder.
When Your Genes Contain a Serious Mutation
Another reason you may be encouraged to use donor eggs is if there's a high possibility you will pass a serious genetic mutation or disease to your offspring. It may seem like something out a science-fiction novel, but it is possible to examine genes and determine whether parents carry disorders and diseases that may be passed down to their kids.
In addition to impacting a person's ability to conceive and carry to term—since the body sometimes terminates pregnancies when there are abnormalities in the zygote—a genetic condition can increase the chance a child will be born with severe medical problems the parents may not be ready or capable of handling. So if the odds are really high this may occur in your case, the doctor may recommend you opt for donor eggs.
Of course, at the end of the day, you can choose how you want to proceed. If you want to continue with your own eggs, the doctor will typically respect your wishes. It's essential, though, that you fully understand the risks before making a final decision.
For more information about using donor eggs, contact a fertility doctor, such as at the Missouri Center for Reproductive Medicine.