For patients with diminished ovarian reserve or premature menopause, egg donation is a true blessing.
Egg donation allows women the opportunity to carry a pregnancy where their husband’s sperm has been used. While the egg is not genetically theirs, they have often searched a database and found a woman to donate eggs who shares similar characteristics and appearances. So I often get asked whether the woman’s body can tell if the eggs are from a donor. Does it reject the pregnancy at a higher rate than if it were her own eggs?
The conventional answer has been “no” as demonstrated by a high pregnancy rate ( 70-80%) and very low miscarriage rate (10-15%). I often explain to a patient that any embryo is a new creation based on the combination of the sperm and egg and so the body goes through the same process to accept an “outside invader” whether it is from an egg donor or from herself. However, new research is always shedding light on the complex process of pregnancy and the immune system is one of the most intricate systems in the human body.
A recent study out of France has shown that pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure) is 4 times more common in pregnancies conceived through donor eggs. The study had 217 participants, from 7 IVF centers in France, and average age of 35 years. 18% of the women had pre-eclampsia versus 7% of the women who conceived through IVF using their own eggs.
While not all studies have shown similar results and controversy still exists, preventing pre-eclampsia and the premature deliveries that often accompany it is a goal of ours in order to create healthy families. Strategies that we use at RSC include helping women maintain ideal blood pressure parameters prior to pregnancy, maintaining ideal body weight, and trying to avoid twins. Careful prenatal care by an obstetrician experienced in IVF and Donor Egg pregnancies can ensure the best outcomes.