Egg donation – a chance for motherhood after cancer treatment
Infertility is a frequent problem experienced by women who won their battle with cancer. Young cancer patients find it especially difficult to accept that they do not have a chance of becoming a mother. Modern medicine offers new possibilities – egg donation. It gives women who underwent cancer treatment a chance to give birth to a baby.
Cancers may develop in people of all ages, including young, active women under the age of 35. The most frequent cancers in this age group are leukaemia, lymphoma and breast cancer. Patients who are diagnosed with cancer focus on combating the disease, and the side effects of cancer treatment, including infertility, fade into the background. However, it changes after they have recovered.
Women who won their battle with cancer may once again enjoy their life. However, for many of them (especially those who do not have children) the lack of prospects for becoming pregnant and giving birth to a child may constitute a serious mental burden. Therefore, women who are to undergo cancer treatment should consult a doctor and ask whether it is possible for them to have their egg cells frozen.
If this option is not available to a patient or if she was not aware of this possibility at the time when her cancer treatment was commenced, she still has a chance of becoming a mother – after she has recovered, she may undergo in vitro fertilisation with donor eggs and give birth to a baby.
First pregnancy after the age of thirty
Just over a decade ago, most women were starting a family before the age of thirty. There were not many women who had their first child after that age. Today, the percentage of women who become pregnant for the first time after the age of 35 is rising. Their decision to start a family is more informed – before they become mothers, they want to find the right partner and ensure that they have a good position on the labour market.
Young women who delay having children cannot foresee that a serious illness may prevent them from becoming a mother. Egg donation programmes give women who do not have their own egg cells a chance to get pregnant, carry a child for nine months and deliver him or her naturally.
Today, egg donation programmes are becoming more and more popular. Women who decide to undergo IVF with donor eggs receive egg cells donated by young, healthy donors who gave birth to at least one child. Donors remain anonymous, but a future mum may obtain some information about the woman who donated the egg cells. Specially prepared catalogues include information on the blood type as well as the colour of eyes and hair of the donors. Some donors also consent to sharing their childhood photos.
The egg donation process consists in obtaining egg cells from a selected donor and their fertilisation in the procedure of IVF with the sperm of the partner or a donor. After a couple of days, the obtained embryos are transferred to the uterus of a future mum so that they can continue to develop, as if they were conceived naturally. The procedure is comparable to a standard gynaecological examination. Before the procedure, patients undergo hormone stimulation in order to prepare their body for an embryo and pregnancy.
In vitro fertilisation with donor eggs is available to, among others, women who became infertile as a result of cancer treatment, i.e. chemotherapy or radiotherapy. In Poland, egg donation opportunities have been offered by InviMed clinics for years.
The decision to use donor eggs to conceive a child is never easy. However, the procedure gives cancer patients a chance to experience a pregnancy and give birth to a child. Thanks to egg donation, infertile women may experience everything that the disease and its treatment took away from them.