Donor Egg Pregnancy

Women of advanced reproductive age have a much lower risk of miscarriage when using donor eggs than with their own. However, they do have a higher risk of pregnancy loss in comparison to young women, because of the recipient having no hormone production of her own. That is why it is so important to take two different hormones to support your pregnancy for at least the first 12 weeks.

If you have never managed to become pregnant before, finding you are finally pregnant through egg donation usually brings an overwhelming feeling of joy. But this feeling may be combined with anxiety about whether you will be able to carry the baby to term. This will also be the case if you have been pregnant before but have sadly lost one or more pregnancies due to miscarriage. 

When using eggs from a young donor, women of advanced reproductive age have a much lower risk of miscarriage than with their own eggs. However, they will have a higher risk of pregnancy loss in the first trimester than  women in their mid-twenties. The reason for this is the fact that the dialogue between the embryo, ovary and uterus is different from a naturally conceived or “normal” IVF pregnancy in which a woman’s own fresh eggs are used. In egg donation, because there was no egg production in the conception cycle, a woman’s body is not able to produce the hormones that are required to support an early pregnancy.

For this reason, it is very important to take hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) to support your pregnancy at least until 12 weeks, when the placenta is ready to take over the whole function of hormonal pregnancy support. I also advise my patients to continue using progesterone until week 20-24 to reduce the risk of late miscarriage or early birth.

Even when taking these hormones, one of five women who get pregnant after egg donation experiences a bleeding of different intensity in early pregnancy. This bleeding occurs because artificial hormone support produced by medication cannot be regulated by the embryo in the same way as in a “fresh own egg” pregnancy.

I inform all my patients in advance that such a bleed may happen and what steps they have to take to stop the bleeding. It is very important for all our Team not only to maintain high pregnancy rates, but also to help patients who have conceived to keep their pregnancy. Over the last few years, we have managed to maintain a clinical pregnancy rate of 60% and a live birth rate of 49%. (This means that 60% of fresh embryo transfers of 2 embryos resulted in clinical pregnancies, and that 49% of fresh embryo transfers of 2 embryos resulted in a live birth.) This strategy of providing all the necessary information and instructions in advance has helped us to ensure that 82% of all clinical pregnancies after egg donation result in live birth of one or two children.