Is it Worth it to Use Donor Eggs?
When you’re considering any elective medical procedure, you need to know the risks, and weigh them against the benefits. The choice of whether or not to have an elective procedure is very personal, and every person will make their choice differently. Here, we’ll discuss the major risks and benefits of using donor eggs to achieve a pregnancy.
For those women who are unable to produce healthy eggs capable of developing into healthy embryos (due to age, genetic factors, or other reasons), the use of donor eggs is an option. The eggs are usually used to impregnate the intended mother through in vitro fertilization (IVF), but sometimes they could be used to impregnate a gestational surrogate. For more on what it’s like to have a cycle of IVF using donor eggs, please see Donor Eggs: the Procedure and Recovery.
Please note that this page is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for qualified, individualized medical advice. You should discuss your potential elective procedure with your own doctor(s), including your primary care physician and the provider who will perform your procedure if you decide to proceed.
Any treatment has risks, and it’s important to be aware of them so that you can weigh them against the benefits.
When using donor eggs, there is a risk of passing on any inherited diseases present in the donor’s family. Although donors are thoroughly screened, there’s a chance that unknown problems lurk in the donor’s genome, or that the donor has been exposed to toxins that have damaged her DNA and this damage will later affect the child. Of course, this risk isn’t really limited to the use of donor eggs; when using one’s own eggs, there’s also a chance that unknown genetic diseases or DNA damage will affect the child. However, a woman who’s using her own eggs has the advantage of knowing herself and her family thoroughly, while a woman using donor eggs is taking a chance on a stranger’s DNA. This risk, while small, may feel significant to some women.
The risks of IVF with donor eggs also include the usual risks of IVF, except those related to ovulation induction medications (which will not be necessary for the intended mother, although she will still need hormonal treatment to synchronize her cycle with that of the donor). To learn more about these risks, please visit In Vitro Fertilization (IVF): Risks and Benefits.
It should be noted that the egg donor takes on significant risk as well, because she almost always takes ovulation induction medications and assumes the risks of those. She usually receives financial compensation for taking on these risks, but not always; sometimes, a friend or family member serves as an egg donor for a couple, out of compassion and care for the couple. The couple receiving donor eggs may wish to be aware of the significant risk that the egg donor has taken to allow them to start a family.
The benefit of using donor eggs is that it can allow a family to be created that would otherwise not have existed. For those women who, due to age, genetic diseases, or other problems, cannot create viable embryos with their own eggs, the use of donor eggs allows them to have their own babies. The woman may carry the pregnancy herself, or may use a gestational surrogate (if she is unable to carry a pregnancy safely); either way, she becomes a mother if the procedure is successful.
Although IVF (with donor eggs or the woman’s own eggs) carries many risks, many women believe that almost anything is worth enduring for their children. Most people who have children wouldn’t trade them for anything. Although IVF may cause discomfort and carries significant risks, and the use of donor eggs carries its own costs, if this procedure allows a woman to become pregnant with her child, these downsides are often quickly forgotten.
The cost for obtaining donor eggs is around $24,000 to $30,000 per cycle; compare this to the regular cost of an IVF cycle using the woman’s own eggs, which is around $12,400. The cost varies depending on several factors, including the region and the particular clinic. You should check with the provider(s) you’re considering to determine the exact cost. Keep in mind that financing is often available. For more detail, visit our Donor Eggs Cost page.