Many of our male couples want to find a donor who produces a large number of eggs so both husbands can be bio dads. This is a common practice and it can work out very well. However, if you have very strict criteria when it comes to the type of person you’re looking for in a donor, you may be putting too many restrictions on your search.
There are some basics you need to remember about egg donation:
a. A woman’s cycle fluctuates from month to month
b. Even if she is a repeat donor there is no way to truly predict how many eggs and embryos she will produce in any given cycle
c. Donors self-inject follicle stimulating hormones which cause them to produce more eggs than they would in a normal cycle. Your doctor will carefully calculate how much the donor should inject. It must be done carefully to not over - or under - stimulate the donor. Over stimulating, also known as hyper stimulation can, at it’s worst, be life threatening. While it may produce more eggs that doesn’t always equally more high quality embryos
d. It may be better to reserve your donor for a second cycle should her first not produce the desired number of eggs
We asked Dr. Melvin Thornton of CT Fertility his thoughts on how male couples should assess whether a donor is a good fit for them.
“I try to discourage shared egg donor cycles unless the male couple is using one sperm source. This type of couple will need at least 20-25 mature eggs to work with, especially if they are doing PGS, in order to have enough embryos for both of them to be biological father's. The rule of thumb to remember is that you get one good blastocyst for every 5 eggs on average.”
Dr. Thornton and his team at CT Fertility do approximately 400 surrogacy cycles, working with 300 male couples every year.
“So you can see the number of usable embryos quickly goes down when you are looking at a male couple doing a shared donor egg cycle and two sperm sources as well as PGS,” says Dr. Thornton. Add to that specific criteria such as finding an ivy-league donor, a tall egg donor or someone from a specific ethnic background, and suddenly you’ve narrowed your possible options to an impossibly small sample of donor candidates.
Another consideration for male couples is multiple birth. Male couples often want to explore a twin pregnancy. But remember, a twin pregnancy is considered high risk. If you’re thinking of a twin cycle please discuss this with your doctor in advance. Be aware that many surrogates would prefer a single embryo transfer due to the potential risk to themselves and the babies.
If twins are really what you are hoping for, in the long run it may be less costly to do two single embryo transfers rather than one twin pregnancy that could include scary and expensive neonatal intensive care, a four times higher chance of cerebral palsy, and higher level of learning delays.