Who Needs an Egg Donor?

There is a common misconception that only gay men, menopausal women, or survivors of ovarian cancer need donor eggs. This false conception paints a narrow window of the many reasons that a family could need egg donation and limits the scope of the necessity of egg donors.

Gay men will always need the assistance of a donor egg, of course. But women can arrive at this choice for a variety of additional reasons. Here are a few.

Premature ovarian failure. This is a condition in which the body begins the process of menopause too early. In most cases before a woman reaches 40 years of age. Women with the condition will often opt for donor eggs to provide a better chance of conception.

Diminished ovarian reserve. This condition tends to impact women as they age. This term refers to cases where the eggs a woman produces are of low quality and often not optimal for fertilization. It occurs more frequently in women over age 40.

Genetic disease carriers. If there is a family history of genetically transmitted disorders in both intended parents, the pair may opt for a donor egg to limit the possibility of their child inheriting a disease.

Repeated failure with IVF treatments. Sometimes women try to achieve their own pregnancies through IVF treatments without success. After repeated attempts and failures, their reproductive endocrinologist may suggest using a donor egg.

Other health considerations. Every woman’s health and fertility is unique. There may be other medical conditions that impact fertility and necessitate the need for a donor egg.

The use of donor eggs has been on a path of steady incline over the past decade, especially in women over 40. In 2010 it was estimated that at least 11% of all assisted reproductive births were the result of donor eggs.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 22 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for the last two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the American Fertility Association, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 28 years and their two teenage daughters.