Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why won't my wife accept donor eggs ?

I just saw a challenging patient. The wife had ovarian failure, and one of the treatment options we offered them was donor egg IVF. Her husband was quite comfortable with this option, but she flatly refused.

He just could not understand why she was being so stubborn. Isn't this a sensible option ? If she does not have her own eggs, what's wrong with borrowing someone else's ? What's the big deal - it's just an egg after all ! This way she will get to experience the pregnancy and will be able to bond with the baby. Since I am willing to pay for this expensive treatment, why is she objecting ? It will be our own baby - and no one else will know we have used donor eggs, so why is she refusing ?

I often see this dilemma, where the husband and wife cannot see eye to eye as to what treatment option they should select. It is true that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. He was using a purely logical approach, just like most men adopt, because they think of themselves as being problem solvers. Fix the problem, find a solution and move on !

However, women are equally smart and can figure out the solution using the same logic. They really do not need this kind of assistance, because they are capable of figuring it out for themselves.

What wives need from husbands is empathy and a shoulder to cry on. Not being able to have a baby with her own eggs was a major disaster for her. It was the loss of a dream - the death of a hope. However, her husband could not understand this and this upset her even more ! If he's so smart, why can't he understand the pain I am going through ? This means they kept on talking at cross-purposes and going around in circles without ever getting anywhere.

He needed to understand her stance by borrowing her perspective. He then needed to explain to her that he understood what her feelings were and could sympathise with what she was going through. He needed to talk to her about all her fears - both expressed and unexpressed. These included the following:

Will I be able to love a child who was born with donor eggs ?
What if the child does not look like us ?
Will I be able to be a good mom ?

She felt responsible for bringing up the baby and felt she needed answers to there key questions before she could agree. She felt her husband was being very immature , short-sighted and goal- focussed. Her worries were far more subtle.

It is true that women are far more complex than men - and the sooner we realise this, the better. ( I have been married for nearly 25 years and it took me a long time to figure this out, but I am happy to share my learning !) When women say No, they are not just being pig-headed, but often being far-sighted, because they are much better at anticipating problems. Most men prefer taking a - We'll fix it when we get to it approach, which many women find uncomfortable, because this involves a live baby whom they are bringing into the world !

I asked him a simple question. What if you had to use donor sperm ? What would your feelings be ?

Realisation finally dawned on him ! He could now appreciate some of the complex feelings his wife was having to struggle with. I don't know what they will finally decide, but I am sure they will have a more fruitful discussion now !


  1. I think my husband and I are on donor egg route since my last IVF failed again... The ultrasound showed 8 follicles but I don't know what happened because my doctor only harvested one egg and no transfer. I am so depressed. I have finally come to terms with myself and would agree to donor egg since all 6 ivf have failed.
    dr. can you explain how can we have follicles without egg inside? thanks and more power!

  2. There are 2 possibilities.
    1. Technical problems, as a result of which the doctor could not retrieve the eggs
    2. Empty follicle syndrome , because the HCG trigger injection was not taken properly

    I need more information.
    What was your estradiol level ? The size of the follicles ?

    Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD
    Malpani Infertility Clinic, Jamuna Sagar, SBS Road, Colaba
    Bombay 400 005. India
    Tel: 91-22-22151065, 22151066, 2218 3270
    FAX ( India) 91-22-22150223.

    Helping you to build your family !

    PS Watch our infertility cartoon film at http://www.ivfindia.com

    Read our book, How to Have a Baby - A Guide for the Infertile Couple,
    online at www.DrMalpani.com !

    Read my blog about improving the doctor-patient
    relationship at http://doctorandpatient.blogspot.com/

  3. Anonymous12:40 PM

    i love the way you have captured both the sides of the story......without compromising on the sentiments or opinion of either party. I am struggling to get pregnant as well and your site is one of my favorite source of authentic information. Please keep doing the good work. Neetu

  4. Anonymous7:33 PM

    What do I do when it's the other way around?
    My husband and I are looking at a 3rd round of ICSI, I have a feeling that my consultant will recommend egg donation. The last round that I had they collected 18 eggs, when it got to the day of embryo transfer only 1 was viable for transfer. There were no others to freeze as they did not make it through blastocyst. Logic tells me with these numbers that they will advise donor eggs.

    I am just waiting for a date to go in for a cyst to be removed off of my left ovary and my consultant won't discuss our IVF options until this has been done, should be in the next few weeks as he has put it through as an urgent case.

    I have discussed the possibility of them advising an egg donor with my husband, he flat out refuses to do this. I feel devastated and do not know how I can deal with this or move forward. This is my dream and I know he wants children, but he says he wants them with me and not with a random woman. I am open to using whatever means necessary to be come parents, how it happens I do not care I just know that I want to be a mother and a family.

    How do I deal with this?

    1. I am surprised they got only 1 blastocyst though they collected 18 eggs. The fact that you grew so many eggs suggests you have good ovarian reserve and should not need donor eggs

      Can you send me more details about your IVF cycle ?

      You can see what embryos should look like at http://www.drmalpani.com/knowledge-center/ivf/embryos

      What were the meds which were used for
      superovulation ? What was the dose used ? How many follicles did you grow ? What was the E2 ( estradiol) level in the blood at the time of the HCG trigger ? What was the endometrial thickness ?

      What was the embryo quality ?
      Can you please send me the printed treatment summary from your IVF clinic ?

      I would NOT advise you to have surgery for cyst removal. Unnecessary surgery reduces your fertility as normal ovarian tissue is also removed along with the cyst wall, thus reducing your ovarian reserve.

      Is the cyst bothering you ? You can always get it aspirated ( punctured) under ultrasound guidance !

      What’s your AMH level ? Read more at http://www.drmalpani.com/knowledge-center/infertility-testing/amh

      Can you please test your antral follicle count by doing a vaginal ultrasound scan ? Read more at http://www.drmalpani.com/knowledge-center/articles/afc

      Incidentally, I feel you should be honoured and flattered that your husband loves you so much that he is not willing to accept a substitute.

      He loves you, and I am sure will accept your decision, if you meet him half way by formulating a plan of action both of you are comfortable with


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