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On the Mumsnet Donor Conception forum, you can discuss sperm and egg donation with people in the same situation.

Donor conception

What made you decide you go ahead with DE after failed IVF?

32 replies

Lightningrain · 16/11/2020 19:34

I’m currently having difficulty coming to terms with the idea of IVF using donor eggs and hoping I might get some help and reassurance by hearing others’ experiences.

I’m 34 and had a round of IVF two months ago which resulted in a failed egg collection (only one mature egg was showing on the scan but we decided to go to egg collection anyway as there was no guarantee of a better result next time).

I have low AMH and low AFC. No issues with DP’s sperm.

I have another NHS round but the consultant didn’t seem optimistic that there would be any improvement on last time. He broached the subject of donor eggs and I just don’t know how I feel about it.

Initially I thought I couldn’t possibly consider it. I didn’t want a child that ‘wasn’t mine’.

I’m now coming round to the idea that this might be my only chance to have a child but I still have a lot of doubts and wonder whether I’ll always be questioning the decision.

Will I look at the baby and be upset if he or she doesn’t bear any physical resemblance to me?

Will it upset me if someone mentions a resemblance (or lack of) to me or DP?

Will I always wonder whether it would have eventually been possible with my own eggs?

What will I tell the child, and what if it affects them in a negative way?

If I want a second child will I be bothered about my children having genetic links to different donors?

Do we have to tell family and friends as presumably we wouldn’t tell the child it’s to be kept secret? So far we’ve only told my DM that we’re having IVF.

On the other hand if I don’t consider it I I might regret it. I’ll probably feel horrendously guilty about stopping DP from having children even though he insists he is happy with whatever I decide.

Did anyone else have any of these thoughts? Does anyone have any suggestions to help me come to a decision.

I’m really hoping for success with my own eggs on the next cycle but feel like I need to come to a decision on the way forward if it’s not successful.

OP posts:
GroundAlmonds · 16/11/2020 19:40

Don’t rush it. There will either come a time when having a baby definitely matters more to you than the genetics, or not. The thing about DE is there is no ticking clock. So take your time. Take a year - or more - back in normal life, away from clinics before you decide.

Lightningrain · 16/11/2020 19:50

Thank you so much.

I hadn’t really thought of taking time out from it. TTC has pretty much consumed us for the last few years and it does feel that we’ve put elements of our lives on hold.

My only concern is being an ‘older mum’. I’d already started TTC a couple of years later than I would have liked to progress my career. I’m the last one of my friends to have children and people are always asking when we’ll be starting a family. In one sense I just want to be pregnant so that I can start the next phase of my life rather than having another couple of years of thinking about TTC and IVF.

Definitely something for us to discuss and think about though.

OP posts:
IamnotwhouthinkIam · 16/11/2020 21:33

Please consider getting in touch with the Donor Conception Network charity ( www.dcnetwork.org ) .They can help you with the questions you have and even put you in touch with other families who have used donor eggs (who have been through the same worries you are right now).

If you do decide to go ahead with donor eggs in the future, the charity can help you with how to tell the child about their origins, and how to tell close friends and family (obviously you must tell the child early/as soon as they can understand but DCN has books to help with what age appropriate language to use, and you can explain the difference between secrecy vs privacy to your child).

The important thing is to take your time and do the research/ask for help to feel comfortable and confident with your decision, whatever it is (and then hopefully any future child will feel the same way).

PinkGold · 17/11/2020 12:33

I'd first of all ask your clinic what they plan to change for your next round of own egg IVF. At your age quality may well be good even if quantity is not. I also have low AMH but AFC can vary quite a lot from one menstrual cycle to another so that would be my starting point.
Are you in the position that you need to decide if your NHS round is own eggs or donor eggs?
If you do have treatment with donor eggs you may be lucky enough to have additional frozen embryos.
In the UK there is implications counselling for people using donors to help you think it over.
I have said on another thread though that it's not compulsory, some people decide it's not for them. I mean plenty of people say it's not for them hypothetically but you can only really know when it becomes an option for you, whether through failed IVF, not wanting to pass on a genetic condition, infertile due to chemotherapy... People end up with this dilemma for a variety of reasons and not all of them will choose donor treatment. But you can certainly find out more, there are some really helpful threads on here where people shared their reasons.

Lightningrain · 17/11/2020 19:51

@IamnotwhouthinkIam thank you. I will definitely look at getting in touch if the next IVF round with my own eggs is unsuccessful. I guess I just feel like I’ll never know which the right option is until I decide to go for it (or not and possibly regret the decision).

@PinkGold they’ve suggested trying again with a higher dose of stimulation drugs, although they caveated that by saying they don’t tend to see much of a difference between the dose I had last time and the highest dose. I’m really hoping it does make a difference. Last time there was only one mature follicle that they couldn’t collect from plus two that weren’t mature. They didn’t want to risk waiting for the others to catch up. I seem to only have one side with a chance producing decent eggs as there were no follicles of a decent size on the right side.

We can afford to try again after the NHS round so we’re definitely going to try again with my eggs. I assume they’ll push us towards donor eggs if we’re unsuccessful again although we could probably pay for a couple of rounds if we need to.

The consultant did mention counselling but I’m a worrier and tend to play through every eventuality in my mind as soon as I’m aware of a problem. I’m not the best at opening up to people either and tend to keep things bottled up.

I didn’t think about the possibility of frozen embryos actually so that’s good to know about.

I think it’s going to be a case of continuing to get my head around the possibility whilst trying to stay positive about the chances with my own eggs.

Thank you both for your help - it’s such a hard decision to make on your own. DP is being supportive but he’s passed it over to me to make the final decision.

OP posts:
IamnotwhouthinkIam · 17/11/2020 21:05

Yes, at least one Donor implication counselling session is mandatory if you go down the donor egg route at a UK clinic. But it isn't exactly like traditional mental health counselling - they just want to make sure you fully understand the implications of using a donor (eg. the need to tell the child about their origins as early as possible, reminding you of things like the child can find out the donors name/details at 18 in the UK, potential for donor siblings, how would you feel if your child wanted to contact the donor or donor siblings in future? etc).

Have you posted about your situation on the infertility boards here on Mumsnet @Lightningrain ? People on there may be able to advice you about IVF protocols that might help for future rounds (for example from reading the boards I remember some ladies with low AMH and low AFC apparently had success with mild or natural modified IVF - the idea is to use lower drug doses, possibly over multiple cycles to try to retrieve just a few good quality eggs to fertilise rather than a larger number). Good luck!

Mrswalliams1 · 17/11/2020 21:25

I had 3 failed Ivf rounds. Donor eggs were suggested as it was my only chance. I had all the same questions as you but ultimately I desperately wanted a child so I did it and I have the most amazing twin girls who are almost 7 who are my world. We told no one (and still haven't) as we didn't want anyone elses opinions or comments however well meaning and I didn't want them to have a label "Donor egg twins" How they come into this world is for our information but I understand others may do things differently. My experience of DE has been wonderful and my girls are my world. Good luck with your decision

Lightningrain · 17/11/2020 21:30

@IamnotwhouthinkIam thank you, that all makes sense regarding counselling.

I was posting on the IVF board before/during my first cycle and it sounded like there were a couple of others in a similar situation.

It’s difficult to know whether it’s worth persevering trying with my own eggs until we can no longer afford it or just go with the consultant recommendation of DE if there’s no improvement next time. I’ve seen some people suggesting changing clinics, going abroad etc, but if I don’t respond to the stims well enough I can’t see that another clinic could help. There’s been no mention of mild or natural cycles by my clinic but I think I’ll ask about that next time I speak to them.
I also got a bit bogged down with all the supplements and IVF diets that were being recommended. It really is a minefield.

OP posts:
Lightningrain · 17/11/2020 21:40

@Mrswalliams1 thank you so much. It’s reassuring to know that you went through the same thoughts and questions and you’re happy with the decision you made 7 years down the line.

I think I’d feel the same about not telling others as I haven’t wanted people to know about the IVF. It’s the thought of people pitying us, asking questions (or not knowing what to say) and the expectation that the IVF will work. I just worry that the child would feel that it was something to be ashamed of if we told them not to tell people, and that it would be awkward if they started to tell family or friends themselves.

OP posts:
Mrswalliams1 · 18/11/2020 12:30

I feel exactly the same. I didn't say anything about ivf to anyone as I struggled with my own expectations let alone people constantly asking questions. Unless you are in the situation I don't see how anyone can really understand the heartache that comes with infertility and donor eggs. I also didn't (and still don't) want others well meaning questions and opinions. I also don't want people talking to my girls about it and potentially giving mis information or their opinions to them. I will tell them honestly when I feel they are at an age to understand. The best advice I can give is to make the decision that is right for you. Seek help and info from those that have been there or are trained professionals x

PinkGold · 18/11/2020 13:34

@Lightningrain it sounds a bit like my NHS treatment which was very "one size fits all" but I paid for tracking scans and could see that antral follicle count varied so was able to start the treatment on a cycle where there were more follicles to be stimulated in the first place. When I was with a private clinic this was also their approach.

I understand you are a think ahead type of person but it's only wheh you have the next IVF cycle will you be in a better position to know if donor eggs will be your reality.
The UK implications counsellor suggested some picture books for children that explain donor conception in a way they can understand (and also said these can be useful for grandparents etc as not all will read in-depth information).

Cattenberg · 18/11/2020 14:26

I know this doesn’t address your question, but my first IVF attempt was similar to yours. I was 35, with a mediocre AMH and a total AFC of 8 or 9. I didn’t even make it to egg collection, as one follicle absorbed all the drugs and grew too fast, but none of the other follicles grew at all.

During my second attempt, I was booked in for egg collection and told to expect up to four eggs. The doctor actually collected six, of which four fertilised and progressed to the blastocyst stage. One of those is now my DD and the other three have been frozen.

So, every IVF attempt is different, and quality is more important than quantity. Wishing you all the best!

Lightningrain · 18/11/2020 15:10

@Mrswalliams1 that’s exactly how I feel about it all. I’m quite a private person anyway and don’t want to make it into a big issue with other people. You can get away with not telling anyone about IVF with your own eggs but donor eggs changes everything.

@PinkGold that’s interesting about tracking scans. I did actually have two separate scans before the first cycle due to COVID putting a stop to everything but my AFC was much the same on the second scan which was 6 months later. I wonder if there will be a difference in approach once I get onto a paid cycle.

@Cattenberg thank you, that’s really given me some hope. The way the consultant was talking was as if further treatment with my own eggs was going to be futile.
You’ve done so well to get some frozen as well as having your daughter. Best of luck to you if you decide to try for a sibling.

OP posts:
IamnotwhouthinkIam · 19/11/2020 01:00

I think that only a few clinics specialise in Mild/Natural modified ivf @Lightningrain (like Create), so it might mean changing clinics if you did decide to try that route for future rounds. But as pp have mentioned, because the number of follicles naturally changes each month, you could find that your next cycle at your current clinic works much better (even on similar stims).

But if there are no changes/better results with the second round, I'd personally consider changing clinics (or at least insist on dramatically changing the medication regime).

Don't let them push you to Donor eggs before you are ready though. Understandably Clinics have to consider their published results/stats - so just as they encourage IVF over IUI, they will encourage the use of Donor eggs if they think there is an egg problem (because from their practical point of view statistically Donor IVF is more likely to work, but this doesn't take into account the emotional situation for the patients).

IamnotwhouthinkIam · 19/11/2020 01:14

Oh and try not to stress about the diet and supplement stuff on other threads. If you are doing what the NHS recommends (taking Folic Acid and Vit D3 and no alcohol, caffeine or nicotine) and have as reasonably a healthy lifestyle in terms of diet/exercise/sleep as you can- I think you are doing all you can be expected to do!

Unfortunately there is little proof special fertility diets/Accupuncture/Reproflexology/Dhea/Ubiquinol etc works for everybody (or even most people) or we'd all be doing it. I understand why people try these things (I'm trying Ubiquinol myself), but I'm beginning to suspect it's just luck as much as anything whether a particular cycle works!

Lightningrain · 19/11/2020 16:23

@IamnotwhouthinkIam thanks, that’s really helpful to know. I’ll definitely investigate further and ask whether they do natural/mild IVF at my clinic. It’s just a nightmare to change and travel to one some distance away when you need to attend so many appointments.

I did wonder whether the mention of donor eggs was to help their success rates. We could probably afford 2-3 cycles over a couple of years and keep trying with my eggs but it’s so hard to commit to throwing that kind of money at it when they’re saying it’s unlikely to be successful.

And yes, I’ve been taking vitamin D and folic acid. I’ve never smoked and don’t drink much. I only have the occasional coffee and cut out alcohol completely a few times during the time we’ve been TTC and now IVF but I felt like I was putting my life on hold. I can’t see that a glass of wine on a Friday and Saturday night is going to have that much of an impact. I keep falling off the wagon with healthy eating and exercise but I’m not too bad. It’s just so hard to stay motivated for such a long time when nothing seems to be going right.

OP posts:
IamnotwhouthinkIam · 20/11/2020 20:43

I haven't tried mild IVF myself, I only wanted to mention that I'd read other women with low AMH had success with it in case you needed some hope! Like you said, it can be hard to stay positive sometimes on this journey. I completely understand it would be a hassle to change clinics though @Lightningrain , and there's something to be said for sticking with where you feel comfortable and they know you.

Fingers crossed your next round will be successful but in a worst case scenario, hopefully your current clinic will be willing to change the med protocol (either higher/lower or different type) to see if something different suits you.

Oh, and I think the occasional coffee or weekend glass of wine is fine! It's going lower sugar I struggle with myself but personally I think going completely cold turkey on anything just makes you crave it more and raises stress which doesn't help either!

Persipan · 25/11/2020 16:17

I definitely remember thinking I couldn't possibly use donor eggs. My donor egg baby is seven months old and asleep on my lap right now!

I think most people go through a lot of inner questioning before considering it, and to be honest I think that's quite appropriate and right - donor conception is fantastic but it's something you do need to think through.

The thing that tipped it for me was reading the accounts of parents of donor-conceived children who basically said that they were ultimately glad for everything that brought them to that decision, because they now couldn't imagine being the parents of some other, different child than theirs. That resonated with me when coming to a decision to go for it, and I absolutely feel that myself, now.

My baby... kind of does look like me, actually. Definitely people who don't know about the donor eggs comment that he does, which to be honest I find quite funny. I told everyone I'm close to, anyway, because I imagine that as he gets older he may mention it himself occasionally, so they may as well be aware. Never had any negative reactions (and I cannot describe how excited my dad was to be a grandparent). A certain amount of genuine curiosity from friends, about certain things (like, how you choose a donor).

I was lucky in that the cycle that resulted in my son also produced four frozen embryos, so there's the possibility that he could have a full sibling one day.

One big positive about the option of donor eggs is, it gives you time. There's no great rush to decide, and go ahead, right this minute. It's something to sit with, to think and talk about, to explore. You might decide it's for you, you might not. But your initial thoughts are really normal, and it can still be bloody brilliant.

Lightningrain · 26/11/2020 19:52

@Persipan thank you so much and congratulations on having your son Smile

It makes me feel much better that you went through similar thought processes and you’re now so happy after having your son.

I guess I’ve been wondering whether the doubts would always be there in my mind, even though I’d have the baby that I’ve been wanting for so many years now. Reading your post has made me think about the love that I would have for the baby which would overshadow any of the things I’m thinking about right now.

It’s also good to know that reactions from everyone you’ve told have been positive.

I think it’s a case of trying another cycle whilst continuing to open my mind up to the idea of donor eggs. I had been expecting the suggestion from the consultant but it’s taken me over a month to be able to process it sufficiently to think about it in a positive light.

Thank you again for your honesty and best of luck to you if you decide to try again with the frozen embryos.

OP posts:
ForeverAintEnough · 28/11/2020 17:58

Hi @Lightningrain I am a similar situation to you so I wanted to comment. I did two rounds of ivf and had a poor response, few eggs collected and no embryos. I then had my testosterone tested and it was on the floor so I took a 3 month break, took DHEA and melatonin and cut out sugar/dairy/gluten, ate tons of veg and high protein. Religiously taking supplements. No alcohol no caffeine. It was tough but the next round I had a better response and got two blasts a 5AA and 4AA so ‘top quality’ (on morphology). I was on highest dose of Stims - and Menopur as it’s less synthetic to gonal f which I didn’t react well to.

I am now doing x3 rounds of embryo banking and I got 3 blasts 3AA x2 and 5AA on my last round. The difference this round was letrozole was added in alongside the high dose of Stims.

So what I would say to you is take a 3 month gap to give it your all. For me I felt like if I couldn’t make blasts after all that then I would know I’d done absolutely everything. Definitely have your testosterone tested as DHEA may help and then you will know you’ve given it all your all in your next round.

Unfortunately it’s not all good news as we sent off the latest 3 for PGS and got one abnormal, one in determine and one no result so we may not be making genetically normal embryos in which case we are going to move to donor eggs after these two final rounds of embryo banking if we don’t get anything PGS normal.

We’ve decided we want to be parents and it will be my husbands child and the main reason I wanted to have children was to have our child so if it’s 50% him and I will carry it then I am hoping I will feel the same.

I am sad about that eventuality though but I think that’s as we all set out thinking let’s have a baby and that it’ll happen for us, then thinking IvF will work and we go through so much it’s probably natural to be sad that it wasn’t all easy and we never managed to have our own babies but that’s different to potentially being so in love with a donor egg baby, seeing your DH so happy and having a family and all that entails which all sounds so wonderful and rewarding.

Good luck with it all. I’m also 34 with low AMH and AFC.

Tolleshunt · 28/11/2020 18:09

OP, you may find greater success with another clinic, as the private clinics can offer a lot more of a tailored protocol than the NHS ones tend to, so don’t necessarily extrapolate likely success from experience thus far.

Another thing is that egg quality matters more than quantity, and there’s much you can do over 90-120 days to improve egg quality. I’d recommend reading ‘It starts with the egg’ by Rebecca Fettes, which rounds up all the latest research on what to avoid and what to eat/take/do to maximise egg quality. You can potentially make quite a shift here.

If it does come to donor eggs, it might be helpful to consider how epigenetics comes into play during pregnancy and life. The egg carries half the genetic blue print for the child, but the environment in the womb, and everything that happens in life after birth have a huge epigenetic effect on which genes are switched on or off. The child you had from a donor egg would be an entirely different person to that which would grow from the same egg if it was gestated in the biological mother’s body and raised by her. Maybe something to mull over.

Lightningrain · 28/11/2020 20:26

@ForeverAintEnough thanks for sharing. I’ll definitely ask for my testosterone levels to be checked. Did you get that done on the NHS or pay privately? I wonder why they don’t do it as one of the usual tests. I had read about DHEA but there are so many different things that people recommend it’s a minefield.

One of the most difficult things for me is changing my diet. I find it so hard to cut out sugar. I’m now working from home so I suppose it means I’ve got the ability to cook lunch from scratch rather than grabbing food on the go. It should make things easier although I’ll have to go cold turkey on sugar.

Fingers crossed for your results, although it sounds like you’re in the right mindset now for pressing on with donor eggs if needed. It definitely makes sense to try and throw everything at it so you’re not forever wondering ‘what if’. Best of luck to joy anyway.

@Tolleshunt thank you. I had been considering trying another clinic although I’d be looking at an hour plus travel time to some of the others. I’m not sure how I could make it work logistically but definitely worth considering.

Thank you for the book recommendation. I’ve actually had it in my basket on Amazon before but didn’t buy it as I thought it would add to the minefield I’d already got in my head about supplements etc. If I’m going to give this next cycle my all it’s probably worth a try to implement as many things as I can.

And yes, epigenetics is something I was aware of but it hadn’t been at the forefront of my mind with all of my concerns. I think I am coming around to the idea after doing a lot of reading and getting over the initial shock. Like @ForeverAintEnough says, it’s enough to process to come to terms with the fact you can’t conceive naturally, to then be told that your own eggs aren’t viable. Donor eggs isn’t something that you think you’ll have to resort to at the beginning of the TTC journey.

OP posts:
ForeverAintEnough · 28/11/2020 22:27

@Lightningrain I’m in Ireland so I have to pay for everything. I fly to the U.K. for treatment. DHEA needs to be used properly so having testoerone check every 3-4 weeks and levels monitored - dose increased or decreased but it’s definitely made a difference to me. Trust me I never thought I could give up sugar but two failed cycles down I suddenly found the motivation. I’m a sugar addict - I’m ashamed to admit today I’ve had a full packet of Oreo’s and x3 teacakes and a fudge!!! But once I got the first week over me (cold turkey awful headaches!) it was ok to keep going. If helped that I had an end date - kept telling myself I’d eat whatever I wanted once I had the round done.

Good luck.

ForeverAintEnough · 28/11/2020 22:28

I should add I’m not doing another round for 3 months so I’m off the diet for a few weeks post egg collection! Back on it on Monday!

LesbianonFWR · 29/11/2020 06:36

If you do use donor eggs, I wanted to second the idea of getting some materials from the Donor Conception Network to help with talking and telling. They have some really useful stuff, both aimed at you and to share with the child in age-appropriate words and pictures. A good way to tell can be talking to your child about it whilst they are still a baby and can't understand. Then you can keep practising the words and the story, and by the time they do understand, they will have 'never not known' their conception story. So it will never be a surprise or a shock. My 5 year old understands that sperm donation was how she was conceived.
The child might share their story with other people later and that might be hard for you in terms of privacy - I understand that. But then you might weigh that against the benefit to the child of you being open and honest with them from the outset.

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