Is IVF (egg donation) a solution to secondary infertility?

When Kelly and Chris* got married and decided to have a baby, they were astonished how quickly Kelly got pregnant. She came off birth control in August and was pregnant in October. Two years after the arrival of their first-born son they decided that it was time for a little brother or sister. They tried unsuccessfully for two years before seeking help of a fertility doctor. It turns out they were suffering from secondary infertility – a condition which touches many parents.

Most couples who already have one child find it difficult to accept that they are not able to have a bigger family. The sheer thought of not being able do something as natural as conceive and carry a baby can be devastating and heart-breaking. However, no one should feel ashamed. It is also important to stress that infertility is stressful whether you already have children or not. If you are a parent you’re constantly surrounded by children, babies and your friends’ baby bumps which can be a painful reminder of what you are missing. Still, you need to find comfort that you are not the only one with such a problem and there is a solution out there.

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Let’s find out more about the causes of secondary infertility and whether IVF (egg donation) can be a solution.

Secondary infertility is the inability to conceive or carry a baby to term after having one or more children before. What can be the causes?

  1. Male factor: impaired sperm function, quality or production,
  2. Female factors:
  • damage to the fallopian tubes, endometriosis, ovulation or uterine conditions,
  • complications after the pregnancy/pregnancies,
  1. Other factors: such as age (lower quality eggs in women), weight issues and use of certain medications or substance abuse.

The important question is: what is the solution to secondary infertility? If the factor in your case is low-quality eggs, either due to age or some other condition, then having IVF (egg donation) can be the right path to parenthood. Using donor eggs is a very common treatment. Did you know that the number of IVF (egg donation) programmes performed in 2017 for international patients has been estimated at more than 27,000? Many couples who are new to IVF may not be familiar with the egg donor concept. That is why, many organisations which support patients, like EggDonationFriends, aim to educate and provide easy-to-digest information to support couples on their fertility journey.

What is the process of IVF (egg donation)?

Once you have the correct diagnosis confirming that your secondary infertility is due to low-quality eggs, your fertility doctor may refer you on to an egg donor program. If you meet the NHS criteria, you may be eligible for free treatment. However, some of the individual NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) do not allow patients who already have children, from both current and any previous relationships. If you need to pay for IVF/egg donation program yourselves, you may need to consider more affordable options in one of the top European IVF clinics abroad. Start with doing some online research and find out more about egg bank offers, how egg donors are selected and tested and how you can choose a donor that is the best match for you. The donor eggs are fertilised using your partner’s sperm (or donor sperm). When they develop into day 3 or day 5 blastocysts, they are transferred to your uterus for implantation, provided your body is fit for pregnancy. It is then down to you to provide a safe shelter for your developing baby for the next 40 weeks.

The great advantage of egg donation program over surrogacy is that you get to carry the baby and give birth and have that unique bonding experience between the mother and the baby. If your doctor agrees that IVF (egg donation) could be the best method for you to have a baby and you also feel this is the right decision, be proactive in your search for treatment options and patient support. There are many online platforms for patients which can be of help. Stay positive, calm & relaxed.

Good luck!

*names have been changed

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