Byline: John Weltman founder and president of Circle Egg Donation
According to a report in the Journal of American Medical Association, the number of egg donor IVF cycles increased about 70 percent from 2000 to 2010. Some attribute this to the growing trend of women starting families later in life. Others say it's because of advancements in reproductive technology and greater availability of IVF options. But for some countries, such as Australia and the United Kingdom, the demand for egg donors far exceeds the number of women available to donate. As a result, many international intended parents are turning to the U.S. for help in having their own biological children.
Luckily, the United States is widely considered to be the preferable country for assisted reproduction due to its favorable legal, societal, and medical conditions. Here are the top three perks for intended parents arranging egg donation in the U.S.
1. Shorter waiting lists. Some countries, such Australia, have seen a marked increase in the demand for donor eggs. Despite the growing number of women seeking this means of assisted reproduction, the number of donors available remains extremely low. This is caused by several factors, including low egg donor compensation, the legal framework regarding donor anonymity, and the rights of the resultant child.
More women are willing and available to donate in the States for several reasons:
• Favorable laws that protect the intended parents, the egg donor, and the resultant child.
• Compensation is reasonable and appropriate in regards to the amount of time and sacrifice these women give.
• There are different types of donations, including known, semi-known, and anonymous, giving intended parents greater felxibility.
In some countries, intended parents may wait up to several months before receiving a donor match. In the United States, agencies who follow ASRM guidelines can offer intended parents hundreds of available donors with sufficient information on each. This leads us to the next point!
2. Information on egg donors is readily available to intended parents. Some donor databases or agencies in countries like South Africa offer full profiles along with childhood and baby pictures. Panama even offers intended parents the possibility of meeting their egg donors. But in most cases, specifically in European countries, limited information is available about egg donors. Egg donation in the U.K., for example, is anonymous with only non-identifying information given to the parents, and donors and recipients do not meet.
While anonymous egg donation is the right path for some intended parents, known egg donation and semi-known egg donation arrangements are becoming more common. In a known egg donation, intended parents and their donor learn each other's names, have the opportunity to meet, and can develop a relationship to their liking. It also allows recipients to remain updated about the donor's health as it changes over time. In a semi-known donation, the amount of information that is shared is limited at a level determined by all parties.
Regardless of the type of donation, information about U.S. donors is typically available for the intended parents to review, including adult and baby pictures, family pictures, lists of hobbies, likes and dislikes, and personal characteristics, school information, SAT scores, IQ tests, and so on. This gives intended parents choices and variety—something not many countries can provide.
3. Higher success rates. The U.S. has some of the best IVF clinics and medical centers in the world, according to U.S. News & World Report's Top-Ranked Hospitals for Gynecology. And the United States has some the of the highest IVF clinic success rates. An IVF clinic's success rates are typically determined by the number of live births (or pregnancies) compared to the total number of cycles performed. For many intended parents, success rates are the most important factor when choosing a clinic.
In the U.S., this information is readily available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies (SART), and the clinics themselves. However, clinics outside the U.S. generally do not tabulate this information, making it harder for intended parents to decide on a clinic.
Regardless of where you pursue your egg donation, it's a wonderful family-building option— one that changes the lives of both intended parents and donors for the better. When you're making your decision about where to pursue egg donation, it is important to analyze the tradeoffs, namely the standards that apply to U.S. IVF clinics. Most important, do your research and be comfortable with the decisions you and your partner make, as they will lead to a fulfilling experience in your path to parenthood.
John Weltman is the founder and president of Circle Egg Donation. You can learn more about its services at www.circleeggdonation.com.