In Collaboration With: Donor Egg Bank USA
Hey beauties! I’ve been working on a collaboration with two wonderful ladies from Donor Egg Bank USA to bring you the post below. These two lovely women have contributed a guest post on a topic that so many of us cysters struggle with – infertility. Please reach out with any questions, especially since this isn’t a topic I’ve seen much about on other PCOS-related blogs or forums. Or as always, comment below! 🙂
PCOS is a complex hormonal condition with many varying symptoms. Many women deal with hormonal issues their entire lives, without realizing the symptoms are attributed to an underlying condition. It’s not until attempting to get pregnant that the vast majority of women suffering from PCOS-related infertility start to get the medical attention they need after having trouble conceiving.
In fact, PCOS is the most common anovulatory condition, or the root reason that women lose the ability to ovulate. That’s because PCOS causes a complex cascade of hormone dysregulation which eventually leads to insulin resistance and problems with fertility. So, what does that mean for women dealing with this? Are there options for women trying to conceive while dealing with PCOS?
The short answer: YES! Read on to learn about some fantastic options for women with PCOS who are TTC.
Despite the availability of various hormone therapies and assistive reproductive technologies (ART), many sufferers can eventually find themselves in need of alternative options like frozen donor eggs.
Do Women with PCOS Qualify for Frozen Donor Egg IVF?
Women with PCOS can certainly benefit from using frozen donor eggs. While many can eventually conceive using their own eggs, exceptional circumstances might increase the need for alternative therapies like the use of donor eggs. If you’re affected by any of the following conditions, donor egg IVF may be an ideal option for you:
- Low ovarian reserves
- Damaged or missing ovaries, due to procedures like ovarian drilling
- Genetic diseases, such as Cystic Fibrosis or Sickle Cell Anemia
- Increased chance of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) caused by ovarian stimulation drugs
Choosing an Egg Donor
Trying to conceive when you have PCOS can be a long and daunting journey, filled with failed attempts and letdowns. Thankfully, women have a high chance of getting pregnant when using an egg donor.
If you decide to try frozen donor egg IVF, the first step is to choose your donor.
While some women or couples worry about working with an anonymous candidate, reputable donor egg storage facilities have strict requirements in place. Egg donor candidates are thoroughly screened before their egg collection to ensure they meet specific standards. These screening practices include, but are not limited to:
- Background checks
- General health examinations
- Psychological evaluations
- Drug testing
- Education and professional background screenings
Much of the information gathered during these screenings will be made available to potential parents. Once you’ve selected your donor, your eggs will be sent to the fertility clinic of your choosing to await thawing and fertilization.
How Does Frozen Donor Egg IVF Work?
A frozen donor egg cycle will begin with general health examinations, like blood and transvaginal ultrasounds, which provide your doctor with baseline information about your reproductive health.
Using information gathered from these tests, your doctor will prescribe a regimen of medications which prepare your uterus and endometrial lining for the upcoming embryo transfer. Most often, these medications include a combination of progesterone and estrogen.
Your body’s response to these medications will be monitored through bloodwork and ultrasound technology. When your IVF team determines you’re ready, your eggs will be fertilized, and your embryo transfer will be scheduled.
During your transfer, a predetermined number of developing embryos will be placed directly into your uterus with a thin catheter.
Two weeks after the transfer, you’ll be given a blood pregnancy test. With luck, this test will provide you with the outcome you’ve been searching for.
On average, women under the age of 35 have approximately a 40% chance of live birth success with traditional IVF. As a woman approaches 40, though, that number drops to around 4%. It should be noted, however, these numbers are dependent on circumstances including reproductive health and age. These numbers do not factor in PCOS, which according to an article on Reprod Biomed Online, will further reduce the success rate of live birth1.
Alternatively, when using donor eggs, the chances of success rise to nearly 50%. This is in large part due to a better quality-level in eggs and blastocyst embryos.
Frozen Donor Egg IVF Success for Women with PCOS
Some women may be concerned their chances of IVF success will decrease if they’re using frozen donor eggs. Despite that belief, donor egg IVF has similar success rates as traditional IVF. Additionally, using donor eggs prevents the development of OHSS as the prospective mother will not have to use stimulation drugs. These stimulating hormones are more likely to cause a PCOS patient’s ovaries to overstimulate. It’s a win-win situation.
If you want to increase your chances of a positive pregnancy test, there are a few natural methods which might be worth trying.
It’s often believed too much stress and anxiety can lead to lower success rates in IVF patients. While it’s an undoubtedly challenging experience, finding ways to manage stress is crucial. Many women find activities like exercise, meditation, or journaling to be beneficial throughout their cycles.
Studies have shown acupuncture can increase fertility success. Scheduling appointments in the weeks leading up to your embryo transfer can increase blood flow and assist in preparing your body to receive the embryo. More specifically, however, having one or two acupuncture treatments in the days leading up to your embryo transfer may increase your chances of a successful pregnancy by around 26%2,3.
Another bonus: acupuncture is a great stress reliever, as well!
Eating the Right Foods
While a healthy diet is unquestionably beneficial during a donor egg cycle, there are more specific options believed to increase your chances of success, including:
- Lean proteins
- Avocado and other healthy fats
- Whole grains
Keep Your Feet Warm
Eastern medical practitioners believe there’s a correlation between a woman’s feet and her uterus. These doctors believe if a woman keeps her feet warm with socks and slippers before her cycle, her uterus will be a more inviting environment for a developing embryo4.
Overcoming PCOS-Related Infertility with Donor Egg IVF
If you’re one of the 1-in-10 women who suffer from PCOS, you know all too well how it can affect all aspects of one’s life. While some of these ill-effects might be long-lasting, there’s no reason your infertility has to be.
If other ART methods like hormone therapy, IUI, or traditional IVF aren’t working for you, donor egg IVF could be the answer you’re searching for.
Frozen donor egg IVF doesn’t just allow you to become a family, it ensures a woman with PCOS can experience the growth of a child within her belly. Don’t lose hope over your ability to conceive if you have yet to try this option – donor eggs are an innovative opportunity to become the parent you dream of being.
- De Vos, M, et al. Cumulative Live Birth Rates After IVF in Patients with Polycystic Ovaries: Phenotype Matters. Reprod Biomed Online. 2018 Aug
;37 (2) :163-171. doi: 10.1016/ j. rbmo .2018.05.003. Epub 2018 May 7.
- Prior, J. C., Naess, M., Langhammer, A., & Forsmo, S. (2015). Ovulation Prevalence in Women with Spontaneous Normal-Length Menstrual Cycles – A Population-Based Cohort from HUNT3, Norway.
PlosOne, 10 (8). doi :10.1371/journal .pone .0134473
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. 2016 Assisted Reproductive Technology National Summary Report. Atlanta (GA): US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2018.
Manheimer, et al. (2008). Effects of acupuncture on rates of pregnancy and live birth among women undergoing in vitro fertilisation: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ, Feb. 8, 2008; “online first” edition. doi :10.1136/ bmj .39471.430451 .BE