If you’ve been trying to have a baby without success, it can be easy to feel discouraged. The good news, however, is that despite your age you can become a parent, and using donor eggs can be the key to helping you conceive. 

Unlike sperm, which are almost constantly regenerated, women are born with all the eggs they will ever have. In fact, women have all six to seven million eggs by around 20 weeks gestation! Approximately 300,000 eggs are remaining by puberty and will age with the woman throughout her life, becoming hormonally responsive one at a time until menopause.

Unfortunately, as a woman ages, egg quality declines, and the chromosomes needed to form half of an embryo are more likely to result in genetic abnormalities or aneuploidy. This can lead to an increased risk of miscarriage, as well as lower success rates with traditional IVF. 

woman journaling in her bedroom

Donor Egg IVF Success Rates

Over 10,000 babies are born annually in the United States alone from donor eggs. Donor eggs can be used in several ways: from a fresh donor egg retrieval, from thawed frozen donor eggs, or from thawed frozen embryos (resulting from the egg being retrieved, fertilized by sperm, and then frozen). Whether to use fresh or frozen donor egg is a decision that’s best made in partnership with your trusted medical professional to help ensure that your embryo transfer will have the best possible chance for success. 

If you’re considering frozen donor egg to grow your family, Donor Egg Bank USA is a great place to start for information and support. Not only do they have one of the largest and most diverse frozen donor egg databases in the U.S., but they also offer a live birth guarantee:  have a live birth or receive a 100% refund. This built-in peace of mind is included in two of their financial plans, the Assured Refund Plan® and the Multi Egg Lot Refund Plan. For additional support, every one of their plans offered includes a blastocyst guarantee as well. Donor Egg Bank USA has an industry-leading 62% clinical pregnancy rate. That’s compared to the overall donor-egg success rate in the United States, which ranges between 45.8% and 53.9%. You can learn more about Donor Egg Bank USA and the thousands of families they’ve helped on their paths to parenthood by visiting https://donoreggbankusa.com/.

But is there an age limit for conception with donor eggs? Are there any other considerations to be aware of? Let’s dig in.

frozen donor egg bank

Age of Egg Donor

As we’ve learned more about Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), we’ve come to understand that donor age younger than 25 is not associated with better outcomes — but under the age of 30 is still recommended for healthy pregnancies and live birth outcomes.

However, birth rates remained higher (above 25%) for all ages when the donor eggs used (30.2) were five years younger than the birthing mother on average (35.6).

Age of Birth Mother

Aneuploidy rates (abnormal number of chromosomes) and diminishing ovarian reserves are the main reasons women have difficulty conceiving with their own eggs as they age. Under 35, live birth rates are around 31% per embryo transferred. For those over 43, live birth rates are only around 5%. 

On average, by age 40 a woman’s eggs will be about 70% aneuploid, or abnormal. Once we reach 44, we see that number jump to 90%, and live birth rates, even with ART, drop to under 2%. After 45, the live birth rate is <1%. 

Many IVF facilities will attempt to use the female partner’s own eggs, considering their numbers, until ages 42-45, and then most will only offer egg donation as an option. All clinics have an upper age limit where they will no longer attempt IVF with a woman’s own eggs, but these limits are not the same across facilities. 

But, with donor eggs, we see much more encouraging birth rates — and much fewer abnormalities.

Be the expert in you.

Take the Quiz

Of course, egg donation is not exclusively for women experiencing infertility. It is also a viable choice for same-sex and trans couples, as well as independent prospective parents.

lesbian couple

Other Considerations

There are a few caveats for advancing maternal age and egg donation, with the rate of implantation decreasing slightly with age. For one, the blastocyst (made from a donor egg and a sperm) requires interaction with a receptive uterine lining. To be receptive, the endometrium (uterine lining) must have sufficient amounts of estrogen and progesterone — in this case, primed with IVF, in the right amount and at the right times.

Additionally, with age, pregnancy may also carry some increased obstetrical risks. While there are no laws on age limits for donor-egg recipients in the United States or Canada, there are guidelines: usually under 55 for the U.S., and age 50 for Canada. 

Also, many women of advanced maternal age who are using donor eggs should speak with their trusted medical professional about screening for cardiovascular disease and diabetes and having a mammogram (which could potentially be delayed by over a year due to pregnancy and lactation). 

One more thing to keep in mind that might get a little lost in the overwhelming desire to have a child: Everyone who attempts conception with a donor should consider undergoing counseling. There are a lot of deep emotions that may arise before, during, and after the pregnancy, and the idea of working with a competent professional is one that’s definitely worth exploring.

Kristin Diversi is a writer and versatile creative. She is passionate about reproductive health and justice and lives in Longmont, Colorado, with her husband and their son.