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Home > Learn > Fertility Treatments > >Is There an Age Limit for Conceiving With a Donor Egg?

Is There an Age Limit for Conceiving With a Donor Egg?

Feb 05, 24 6 min

By Dr. Kenosha Gleaton, OBGYN

How Age Affects Female Fertility

The average age for giving birth has been rising in recent years. In fact, the U.S. Census recently reported the highest median age on record for women during childbirth, increasing from 27 to 30 years. [1] There are many reasons for this, from a high cost of living to advancements in accessible contraception. It is a positive thing that more families are growing in size on their own terms, but it does encourage more conversations about age and fertility. 

A woman’s peak reproductive years begin in the late teens and end in the late 20s. [2] By age 30, the chances of conceiving start to decline, and this decline happens much faster once someone reaches their mid-30s. [2] Fortunately, a healthy lifestyle, regular check-ins with a provider, and the use of fertility treatments (when necessary/preferred), can still encourage positive outcomes. [2] 

Egg Health vs. Uterine Health

You may be wondering why someone of advanced maternal age may have better chances of conceiving with a donor egg in the first place. Truth is, research shows that age-related fertility decline impacts egg health far more than it does uterine health. [3-4] A study found that the age of the uterus doesn’t affect implantation much at all, meanwhile, the age of eggs can lead to a significant decline in fertility outcomes. [2-3] That being said, there are some risks to keep in mind when trying to conceive later in life. For example, the risk of preeclampsia, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, and other conditions is higher after age 40. [2,5] Read my guide to getting pregnant in your late 30s and early 40s. 

Is There an Age Limit for Conceiving With a Donor Egg? 

Currently, there is no standard age limit established in the United States for pursuing IVF, with or without donor eggs. However, as Dr. Meera Shah points out on Cofertility’s blog, certain clinics can place their own age limits when determining who they would like to treat. 

People in their 30s and early 40s often have successful outcomes with donor eggs, however, the risks related to pregnancy tend to increase with age, especially after the age of 45. [6] Additional testing is sometimes required to ensure someone is in the condition to sustain a pregnancy. Testing may include diabetes screenings, heart health screenings, and more. [6] What are your chances of getting pregnant by age? Find out → 

Is There an Age Limit for Donating Eggs?

Egg donation can be a beautiful way to help a single parent or couple grow their family. To encourage healthy outcomes and give patients the best chance of conceiving, there are some regulations surrounding egg donation. Most egg donors are between the ages of 21 and 34, though different agencies may have different age limits. [7] Donors are also tested for infections, including HIV, Hepatitis B and C, STIs, and others. Donors often go through a comprehensive screening, providing information about their educational background, family history, medical history, and more. [7] 

The Process of Using a Donor Egg

When someone decides to undergo IVF, they typically have a few options, depending on both male and female fertility factors, age, underlying conditions, and more. [8] IVF can be completed using a couple’s own eggs and sperm or through the use of donor eggs or sperm. IVF can also be done using a gestational carrier, which is when a third person will have the embryo implanted and carry the pregnancy to term. [8] 

When someone does decide to use a donor, such as an egg donor, there are a few steps that will occur. First, the couple or person undergoing IVF will have a consultation with their fertility doctor. This is when the provider can outline the entire process of IVF and perform a variety of tests and medical evaluations to ensure you can healthily carry a pregnancy. [6] 

Next, many will go through the process of choosing a donor. This is an extremely important step that will require a lot of thought and consideration with your provider and partner. Some people opt for a donor they already know, such as a friend or family member, while others may opt to search through a donor pool, which often provides access to information about the donor’s medical history, family history, educational level, and background. [6] 

Once a donor is confirmed, the donor and recipient cycles are synchronized through the use of hormonal medication, often in the form of birth control pills. The donor will also need to use ovarian stimulation medications to encourage the maturation of multiple eggs. [6,8] Simultaneously, the recipient will be taking medications to prepare the uterus for implantation. Lastly, egg retrieval and embryo transfer can both take place. Both of these processes also require a host of medications and screenings to encourage a positive outcome. [6,8] 

Read more about fertility treatments and fertility preservation the Natalist blog. 

Prepare and Learn More About IVF With Natalist

At the end of the day, every person’s journey to starting a family is different, and no IVF journey is exactly the same. Some will opt to use their own eggs and sperm, while others may be interested in using a donor. Wherever you are in your family planning journey, Natalist is here to support you. Support nutrition with our women’s prenatal vitamin, get accurate results with home lab tests, or read up on all things IVF with our Guide to IVF ebook. We’re crossing our fingers for you! 


References:

  1. Morse, Anne. Fertility Rates: Declined for Younger Women, Increased for Older Women. United States Census. April 2022. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2022/04/fertility-rates-declined-for-younger-women-increased-for-older-women.html
  2. Having a Baby After Age 35: How Aging Affects Fertility and Pregnancy. FAQ 060. February 2023. https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/having-a-baby-after-age-35-how-aging-affects-fertility-and-pregnancy
  3. Sekhon, L. Lee, J.A.. Whitehouse, M.C. et al. Using new technology to ask an old question: does the uterus age? Fertility and Sterility. Volume 104, Issue 3, E150-E151, SEPTEMBER 2015. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2015.07.466
  4. Abdalla HI, Wren ME, Thomas A, Korea L. Age of the uterus does not affect pregnancy or implantation rates; a study of egg donation in women of different ages sharing oocytes from the same donor. Hum Reprod. 1997;12(4):827-829. doi:10.1093/humrep/12.4.827
  5. QuickStats: Percentage of Mothers with Gestational Diabetes,* by Maternal Age — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2016 and 2021. CDC. January 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7201a4.htm
  6. Egg Donation Process for Recipients. UCSF Health. Accessed Jan 2024. https://www.ucsfhealth.org/education/egg-donation-process-for-recipients
  7. Egg Donation Fact Sheet. New York State Department of Health. February 2021. https://www.health.ny.gov/community/pregnancy/surrogacy/donor_egg_fact_sheet.htm
  8. In vitro fertilization (IVF). Mayo Clinic. September 2023. https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/in-vitro-fertilization/about/pac-20384716

Dr. Kenosha Gleaton is board-certified in gynecology and obstetrics and is the Medical Advisor of Natalist. She received her MD from MUSC and completed her residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC.

Dr. Gleaton is passionate about women, health equity, and mentoring. She is the CEO of The EpiCentre, an OBGYN spa-like practice, and is a Clinical faculty member of Charleston Southern University.  She is also a member of the American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology, the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists, and the American Association of Professional Women. 

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