Decision Point: do I want to use my own eggs or do I want to have a baby?

Being “infertile” can be a lonely place and, although no one ever really wants to be an “infertility patient” there is some comfort to be had from familiarity with a practice and from the camaraderie of fellow patients. This is true at North Hudson IVF where fertility doctor Jane Miller and her staff provide truly personalized one on one care. And with this individualized care, patients learn the probabilities of success (taking home a baby) with different treatment options. For many patients, donor egg IVF may just be the surest way to get the job done.

There are many “opportunities for anxiety” during an IVF cycle. The most common are: Do my baseline hormone numbers and follicle count “allow me to start? How many follicles are available for recruitment? How come I have an ovarian cyst and will that delay my cycle? How many eggs were retrieved and, of those, how many are mature? Is the sperm OK to inseminate the eggs? How many eggs have fertilized and, finally, on Day 5 of culture, how many expanded blastocysts have good grades and are therefore appropriate for biopsy for PGS (genetic screening) or transfer? And finally, are there any genetically normal embryos to transfer into my uterus? As patients, we wait for the phone call to learn if we can continue the cycle, continue to hope – or else have we been “canceled”. And although we may breathe a sigh of relief that we have not been canceled, both during and after a cycle (if unsuccessful) it is important to constantly reassess whether it is worth continuing a “poor-probability-for success treatment” or moving on to a more” likely-to-bring-home-a baby” one.

When patients undergo IVF with their own eggs fertilization (how many of the eggs retrieved have fertilized) is the easiest hurdle. At 35 between 50-60% of those embryos will not make it to the day 5 blastocyst stage with a good “grade”. Those that have good grades may or may not be normal genetically. If PGS is done to see which embryos are worthy of transfer there may be 1 or 2 normal ones. In the late 30s – early 40s there may be none that are genetically normal – i.e. capable of producing a normal human being. If fewer than 12 eggs are retrieved from an older woman, especially one older than 42, the chance of having a normal embryo can be less than 4%. Looked at from the other side that means 96% of the embryos cannot produce a normal baby.

Although it is very difficult to get off the “cycling merry-go-round’ and adventure into uncharted territory it is important for patients to step back and remember what brought them to treatment, to begin with. Substituting eggs from an anonymous young donor who is physically matched to a woman who cannot conceive with her own eggs can, in most cases, produce a healthy ongoing pregnancy. And although this embryo is not genetically related to the patient it is this woman’s body and work that is making it grow into the desired baby. At North Hudson IVF fertility doctor Jane Miller and staff help patients and couples through the donor selection and treatment processes – and later rejoice with them when they come back to visit with their new baby.