egg retrievalMost couples seeking treatment for infertility hope conception and a viable pregnancy can occur using sperm and egg from the couple itself but there are some circumstances when an egg from a non-genetic donor produces a more favorable outcome. The popularity of using donated eggs for IVF treatments is gaining ground in the US and the success rate for doing so makes the option attractive to a growing number of couples.

The findings of a recent study involving data from 443 infertility clinics in the US indicates an optimum outcome in almost 25 percent of all such cases. These fertility clinics providing data for the study represent 93 percent of all the infertility clinics in the US.

A medically defined optimum outcome involves three measures:

The 25-percent optimum outcome rate identified in 2010 is up from just 18.5 percent in 2000. The number of donor-egg procedures is up, too, from 10,801 in 2000 to 18,306 in 2010.

Saying there’s still room for improvement, Jennifer Kawwass says it’s older women most likely to turn to egg-donor IVF in an effort to extend their child-bearing years. Kawwass, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility fellow at the School of Medicine at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, is lead author of the study of egg-donor pregnancies presented at the latest meeting of the International Federation of Fertility Societies and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).

Kawwass says viable eggs in women age 35 and older are in short enough supply to make pregnancy difficult to achieve. Donor eggs are often considered a measure of last resort but they make it more likely an older woman will carry a healthy baby to term. The women in the Emory study receiving donated eggs were age 41 on average; donors were 28. Recipients and donors averaged the same ages in the 2000 comparison group and in the 2010 group.

The Emory study involved donation of fresh eggs only. Findings were not compared against similar measure of frozen eggs. Some additional findings from the 2010 group of study participants include:

  • 56 percent took home a baby
  • 66 percent had just one baby
  • 33 percent had twins
  • Fewer than 1 percent had triplets

All these babies, singleton and multiples, were born at healthy weights after 37 weeks gestation.

Multiple fetuses increase risks in IVF pregnancies, a situation the ASRM advises against for older women. The society recommends implanting no more than two embryos in women 35 and older and only one embryo at a time for women younger than 35. Single embryos were used in less than 1 percent of the donor IVF procedures in 2000 but in about 14.5 percent of the 2010 cases.

Source: Kawwass, Jennifer, et al. "Trends and Outcomes for Donor Oocyte Cycles in the United States, 2000-2010." Journal of the American Medical Association. 17 Oct 2013. Web. Retrieved 8 Nov 2013.