I recently came up with a way to describe patients who are 45 or younger, with menstrual cycles every month and elevated FSH levels that have been told by their docs they should use donor eggs but just aren’t ready to and want to keep trying. “Donor Egg Limbo” is the best way to describe this scenario and it is one of the hardest places to be in. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know what the struggle is like. I really can’t compare it to any other type of scenario that a human being can experience so that an outsider can relate……This is how you know you’re in donor egg limbo: you’re young, you may or may not have regular cycles or predictable ovulations, you’ve done fertility treatments – maybe even IVF cycles but your FSH level is over 12 and your doctors have given you a less than 5% chance of conceiving with your own eggs. But this is the thing – you’re not ready to use donor eggs, and in fact you don’t think you’d ever go that route. So what do you do in the meantime? You want to keep trying but you don’t feel like you have support from your fertility clinic so what do you do next…….
This is what I tell my patients who are in donor egg limbo:
1.It’s really hard not to think about the situation you’re in all the time. What do you do to keep your mind from constantly focusing on the fact that you may not be able to have a pregnancy with your own eggs? I recommend seeing a hypnotherapist. A hypnotherapist will not put you in a trance or anything silly like that…..a certified hypnotherapist will help you release anxiety and worry less about infertility, as well as teach you meditation in order to create a peaceful place within. How do you find a hypnotherapist in your area? Well, that’s easy: you can go to this site and see if you can find one in your area: http://www.natboard.com/. Our clinic works with Lucy at www.ahigherperspective.com
2.Find a psychologist to talk to. Being in donor egg limbo can put strain on your relationship. You could be dealing with the following scenarios: your partner is ready to use donor eggs and you’re not, OR you are ready and he isn’t because he’s so unclear about the whole process and what’s involved. Finding the right match with a psychologist is key. Call your local fertility clinic and get a list of referrals. Make some phone calls and see who you think you might match with. You can also find a local support group through: www.resolve.org
3.Accept yourself the way you are and remind yourself that you’re not crazy to still have hopes for pregnancy with your own eggs. Women do get pregnant with their own eggs that are in donor egg limbo. The sad part is that most women in donor egg limbo don’t get pregnant but there are stories not that infrequently of patients who do. It’s really hard to pick a donor when you’re in donor egg limbo because it’s difficult to make a decision about when to do your donor egg IVF cycle. The reason why you feel so indecisive about starting donor egg IVF is because you want to give yourself one last chance at trying with your own eggs. My recommendation is to close the door on trying with your own eggs before you focus on donor eggs. It’s so hard to focus on trying with your own eggs and picking a donor that’s right for you. My message to you is this: Still have hopes for pregnancy with your own eggs if that’s what you want. Don’t beat yourself up for thinking there is still a chance because there might just be. You just never know when your good egg will ovulate. Donor egg IVF isn’t going away for you unless you’re in your 50s (most clinics in this country have an age cut-off).
4.Don’t stop trying. If you want to keep trying, keep trying. I ask my patients to give themselves a point where they will at least stop spending money on expensive fertility treatments. There comes a point when you’re in donor egg limbo that your chances of pregnancy with inseminations are the same as with IVF. So I tell my patients that I will tell them when that time has come and at that time I will tell them when they should stop doing IVF and we come to an agreement that after a certain number of cycles they will stop. If you approach it this way you won’t feel like anyone is taking a chance away from you that you wanted. The best time to stop is when you’re ready to stop not when someone else tells you to stop but making a plan with your doctor that you stick to is a great approach.
5.Take antioxidants. The benefits of antioxidant therapy are many. A recent study showed that melatonin’s antioxidant effect may improve egg quality. You can buy an antioxidant like Total Fertility: www.coastscience.com . There are many products available with similar ingredients. You can even go to Trader Joe’s and buy something called antioxidant blend.
6.Consider DHEA 75 mg a day. There isn’t a consensus quite yet but DHEA may improve egg quality. I’ve been using it and have had patients use it after a failed cycle only to have success.
7.Consider growth hormone. Adding human growth hormone to your treatment cycle may also have some benefits. Studies suggest a slightly higher pregnancy rate in women who add human growth hormone to their IVF cycles.
8.Acupuncture can also help. I have definitely had patients in donor egg limbo to whom I’ve asked to stop therapy and consider focusing on other types of treatment like acupuncture only to have my patients get pregnant. I do think acupuncture may help when you’re not only in donor egg limbo but dealing with fertility problems in general. The best acupuncturists would not be able to tell you how or why but it just does.
9.Consider the ovwatch. Women in donor egg limbo may or may not have regular cycles and may have a difficult time predicting when they ovulate. For patients who have a hard time pinpointing ovulation, taking basal body temperatures is frustrating and constantly peeing on sticks is equally frustrating. I recommend the ovwatch: http://www.ovwatch.com/ because I have had patients learn that they ovulate a lot earlier than they once thought (around cycle day 6) and get pregnant because the ovwatch pinpointed this for them before any of the other methods of detecting ovulation. You wear the ovwatch starting at the start of your cycle.
10.It’s really easy for an outsider to say “just relax” and maybe you’ll get pregnant. There’s nothing relaxing about being in donor egg limbo. Reducing your stress may help move your focus away from the state you’re in. Some of my recommendations: consider yoga, massage, other types of spa treatments, go to an animal shelter and consider adoptin a dog – this may help transfer the energy away from being in donor egg limbo and may also help you get out of the house more as well.
I hope this helps and as always, feel free to email me your personal questions to: [email protected]