I want to donate my eggs but my partner's wary: how can I help overcome his doubts?

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By: docentjoyceCC BY 2.0
After reading the question on Offbeat Families about donating your eggs I started really considering whether or not I would be interested. I had heard of egg donation before, but had never seriously considered it.

Now that I've had my absolutely perfect son — he's beautiful, healthy, and right on track developmentally — I think I would be ready to donate. But… my partner doesn't really feel the same way. I've mentioned it to him and he didn't like the idea, but I'd like one more shot to convince him.

I know that the readers have some experience with this, so I'm wondering: how can I help my partner overcome his doubts about egg donation? — Lexi

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  1. When you've talked with him, has he given any reasons for you not wanting it? Because I think knowing his reasonings might be helpful in approaching a conversation. I think there's something different in talking to him if his hesitation is because it's a medical procedure and he's worried about complications? That would be a different conversation than him being hesitant that your child will have a sibling out there somewhere that he doesn't know, or that you will have a child out here somewhere (that he wasn't a part of creating), you know?

    I think if he's able to articulate why he doesn't want you to do it, then the conversation can expand. But I'm wondering….what if he doesn't change his mind? Is that a deal-breaker for you? Would you do it anyway?

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    • I agree. It's difficult to offer up advice on the subject without knowing what his reservations are.

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    • He feels reservation that my son will have a sibling out there that we don't know, which is kind of valid, and really hard to counter.

  2. I'm not an expert in nonviolent conflict resolution (and I'm guessing some people here are, so they can feel free to chime in), but I have had some training in it, so if I were you I'd approach it like that. In the framework I learned, each person states as honestly and thoroughly as possible their reasons for their position (not trying to convince the other person), then you work together to find a solution that meets everyone's needs as best as possible.

    For instance, maybe you say "We had good luck with our pregnancy and it's important to me to pay it forward to other families" and he says "I'm concerned that it would make you sick and I can't keep the household going without you feeling well." Then maybe you agree that you'll do it when your son is a bit older and things are less chaotic. Or maybe you decide that you need more information about the medical effects, and seek that out. Or that you won't donate eggs at this time, but find another way to volunteer to help families.

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  3. Your reasons for wanting to donate also need to be part of the conversation. They aren't mentioned in the original post. Without knowing those or his reasons for objecting, it's hard to suggest ways to proceed other than general conflict resolution methods.

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    • He feels reservation that my son will have a sibling out there that we don't know, which is kind of valid, and really hard to counter.

  4. I donated my eggs several years ago. I have been told since adolescence that I could not carry a child to term. My (now) husband and I decided it was a good idea, both for the money it would earn us and the good it would do someone else.

    But last year, I got pregnant. It was a complete fluke. Our doctors are at a loss to explain it but my baby survived. A miracle, I guess. This means, however, that my new daughter has a biological brother or sister somewhere in our urban community that we won't ever know. So I think I understand your situation, in reverse.

    Most egg donation services are completely anonymous. That might be a good thing to you or it might not. I do not consider that baby my child, or my daughter's true sibling, but there is always a risk of complications later. What if my daughter needs a bone marrow transplant someday? Or her bio-sibling does? Imagine the pain if the other parents refuse to respond to your requests.

    You should also consider that you produce many, many eggs in a single donation cycle. The recipients get them all, and they have a legal right to do whatever they want with them. I included a stipulation in the contract that they could not give them to another couple. I didn't want to lose the only point of contact I had– the agency we used. But the recipients may have used the eggs to have more children. Perhaps many more children.

    How big is your community? If you donate now, your kids will be pretty close in age. They could know each other. They could discover that they're related. That might be okay with you, but would it be okay with the recipient parents?

    If your husband is having doubts about donation, I suggest you both do lots of research. I'm really just playing devil's advocate here–I don't regret donating. But there are plenty of reasons to hesitate, especially if you live in a small community. So do your research.

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  5. I don't have any advice for swaying your husband's opinion but having been through IVF I agree that you do need to have him on board. You never know how you'll react to the fertility drugs and egg extraction is a painful procedure. You will need your husband's help to see you through the egg donation process. Your generous spirit is obvious. I wish you the best of luck.

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  6. Just wanted to add what a beautiful gesture you are considering. I wish there were easier solutions but for parents unable to conceive, adoption waiting lists are years long (local or international) and so sometimes egg donation is the only route to parenthood. I have been down the long dark tunnel of infertility. We were lucky in that ivf worked for us. But if it hadn`t I was seriously considering egg donation. It`s the gift of a lifetime, allowing another family to become parents.

    Also, my egg retrieval was painless – it lasted 30 minutes with local anesthetic only; the actual retrieval took oh about 10 minutes. The rest was just prep and resting a bit after. I know in the states they often put patients under for the procedure, which I find odd. The drugs are a greater concern, they basically put your ovaries on overdrive. Typically you produce a ton of follicles but only one reaches maturity, the others shrink. The drugs make all of the follicles continue to develop. I reacted strongly to the meds; instead of 1 follicle that month I produced 22! I was bloated and tender by the end . But beyond some irritability and discomfort I was fine. The drugs to increase follicle production are only taken from day 3 to the retrieval (around 15). The other drugs are to prevent early ovulation, etc.

    I hope you come to some understanding with your partner. I can understand his relunctance; perhaps he just needs time to think it over.

  7. I donated ovum several times. I wanted to help people have children. In retrospect, I regret having done so as there is not sufficient regulation in the US for ovum donation. The lawyer whose firm was involved (in San Diego – if you google the following facts it will be clear who it was) was well known and supposedly above board, but they treated me badly and I found out recently that this lawyer – who had her own law firm then a company owned by family involved in sourcing donors/surrogates – has been convicted of crimes related to selling frozen embryos that had been transferred out of the US, then placed in surrogates, then the children placed for adoption (at a significant fee). I had 63 ovum taken over six donation cycles. That ended up in many embryos. Often the parents involved only wanted one or two. Who knows what happened to the other embryos? This makes me feel absolutely dreadful, that there could be children out there from my ovum that did not go to the intended parents of the cycle, that I have no idea of their fate. At this point, I think altruistic donation in a place like Australia, where it is regulated, would be safe, but not in the US or overseas.

    I have my own biological child and this is a real concern. I know she will have several half-siblings (about 7 that I know of) from my donations, but who knows how many others are now out there?

    I donated anonymously but most of the intended parents required genetic testing to ensure the children were from my ovum rather than the surrogates, so it is certainly possible to locate me if one of these children has a health need. That would be very hard to deal with…

    All in all, I would be very careful in doing this. I went into it to do something good, also it was very lucrative for me in the US, but I have serious doubts about it now. The drugs that you use for the cycles are also very hard on your body and I don't feel the medical community has much care for the health of the donor or concern about long-term implications of these drugs on donors.

    I didn't have a medical background when I donated. Since then I have become a medical practitioner and I know that it is essentially impossible to understand what is happening to your body in terms of effects of drugs on your natural hormone cycles without some medical background. Much as doctors try to explain and make it clear, it is very hard to explain to laypeople what it has taken years of study to understand for medical professionals.

    I found the doctors involved in ovum retrieval for IVF in the US considered the donors to be just a source of ovum, not the patient and not the person paying the bills. There was minimal care for donors and I experienced hyperstimulation on a cycle – it was appalling. The doctors are making a lot of money doing this and it is the intended parents paying for it, they are the client. Donors are just sources of the ovum, dismissed once ovum is retrieved.

    Be very careful with this decision.

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  8. In Australia I know for some (maybe all) clinics the partners of egg/sperm donors need to be on board before they will allow you to take part and also you are required to have councilling with both of you about it. It can help work through issues and concerns one or both parties might have and includes questions around having genetic children "out there". Perhaps ask your husband if he'd be willing to take part in something like this.

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  9. Maybe your partner needs to talk to other men about this? Men can have quite a different perspective from women.

    Also wanted to alert you to this blog entry from a man who was initially sceptical about his fiancee becoming a donor and ended up being totally supportive: http://www.altrui.co.uk/im-so-proud-of-her/

  10. I donated in 2008 – the year I got divorced, almost exactly corresponding to me divorce process actually, but otherwise unrelated – I blogged about it at the time (http://janefraser.blogspot.com/2008/04/egg-zachery.html) anyway the point of the response is that my thinking was as follows:

    I know some people struggle with this concept, but I have thought about it a lot. I am an organ donor too. I have no great ties with my physical body, other than that I find it quite handy and I need it right now. When I die I won't need it, and I am more than happy that it be used to help someone else who may need part of it.

    So my take on the egg issue is as follows:

    My egg(s) will be given freely and without condition. I see it as a vessel and catalyst for someone to use to grow THEIR baby. The seed may be mine, but the baby will be them, and all theirs. All of their energy, love and nourishment will be given to it to grow as their very own.

    I am not using my eggs, they are literally flushed down the toilet now… I don't see or think of them as babies, but as potentials. They are part of the ingredients needed to make a baby, but on their own they are nothing.

    I have a strong sense of babies coming to us when the time is right and when they chose to. The egg & the sperm are part of that, but I think there's more to it. Something spiritual that happens too. We don't really control that, although we do play a part. We can help it along, but we can't MAKE it happen. Conception happens as it wants to, we don't fully understand it.

    So I am putting some potential out there, and am not going to pursue or dwell on it. If it is meant to be it will be. If it's not it won't. Whether I am chosen, and whether the eggs take is not up to me, and not something I can be worried about… Que sera sera.

    As I said above, I don't believe a single egg (or likewise a sperm) is a baby, or part of me, it's just a catalyst.

    —-

    For me it's like giving eggs to your neighbour. The eggs might have been yours originally, but the cake she makes with them is all hers.

    The ingredients don't affect the end product as much as the recipe, method, love & care taken to make, bake & decorate the cake, but without the eggs there wouldn't be a cake…

    But just cos your eggs were used you can't think, 'That's my cake!'.

    Make sense? Anyway that's MY view, I know others feel differently, and I respect that.

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