EGG DONOR CYCLE SUPPORT

racm blu woman

By Sally Gole and Jann Mehmet

The Fertility Health team has a great deal of experience supporting couples and single women preparing for egg donor cycles.

The team has nearly 3 decades experience supporting donor cycles using acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle programs and nutritional supplements. We find it very rewarding to support people who have often struggled with infertility for many years to finally become parents.

Our team offers lengthy discussion on the success rates, strengths and weaknesses, and positives and negatives, of all donor clinics in Australia and across the globe.

Through monitoring and supporting the progress of our clients through all stages of the donor cycle, including preparation, post transfer, as well as during pregnancy, we’ve gained an intimate understanding of the clinical protocols of each centre. The process can be pretty complex, with many factors to consider.

We support the development of healthy babies by designing tailored preconception and detoxification programs for all parties involved in the donor cycle.

For further information on this preparation, see Preparing for Pregnancy for women and Male Infertility for men.

We assess risk for donor cycle failure through traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis, as well as our thorough analysis of blood tests and scans.

There are many factors in Chinese medicine that may contribute to failed cycles and with a thorough assessment using Chinese medicine’s unique perspective (see Chinese Medicine), as well as an understanding of the the latest blood tests and scans, best practice and research, we aim to comprehensively exclude all risk factors before they impact a cycle.

We recommend further tests to exclude potential risk factors when important to the success of the cycle. We advise of risk and at length discuss all options based on best evidence.

Our team provides a fully tailored Chinese medicine treatment process based on the type of donor medications and cycles the client will undergo.

This includes Chinese medicine assessment of constitution, age of donor and client, and importantly, all chronic diseases or health issues that may compromise the success of the cycle.

We recommend weekly or twice weekly Chinese medicine treatment in preparation for the donor cycle. This involves a gentle and relaxing acupuncture treatment (see Acupuncture) and may also involve Chinese herbal medicine (see Chinese Herbal Medicine).

We discuss best evidence in nutrition, diet and naturopathic supplements for women and men during the preconception stage and for women during pregnancy. We have an extensive herbal and supplement dispensary.

The Fertility health team follows the most up to date research on best evidence in nutrition, diet, and supplements, in combination with Chinese medicine diet therapy. Our team has been attending advanced seminars in Naturopathy for many years, to best complement our Chinese medicine treatments and help our clients make informed decisions about vitamin supplementations.

We discuss best preparation for medications prescribed during donor cycles, in order to minimise side-effects to mother and baby.

Donor cycles often involve high levels of hormone and steroidal medications that may have a significant impact on health and wellbeing. Some of the side effects include headaches, nausea, tiredness, digestive disturbances, and insomnia for the woman, and cleft palate or liver damage for the child.

Worsening of other health conditions may also be anticipated, so our team provides a pre-conception care plan, that may reduce the side effects and risks of certain medications whilst promoting a healthy pregnancy.

We discuss donor treatment protocols and the often complicated medical procedures.

Donor cycles often have complicated regimes of medications and procedures with minimal support from the IVF clinic. Our team has an intimate working knowledge and understanding of the treatment protocols that IVF clinics use during donor cycles, both in Australia and overseas, and we are dedicated to supporting and guiding our clients through this process.

The Fertility Health team supports the success of donor cycles using thorough assessment, acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, diet and lifestyle programs, and nutritional supplements.

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What is an Egg Donor Cycle?

Typically, egg donor cycles involve the egg donor undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilisation) treatment to stimulate their ovaries to produce multiple follicles and eggs, which are then harvested and fertilised using the partner’s or donor sperm. The developing embryos are transferred to the recipients’ uterus, who is on hormone medication to mimic a natural hormone cycle in order to support a pregnancy.

What are the advantages of Egg Donation?

  • If a woman is unable to produce healthy eggs, egg donor cycles are an opportunity to conceive and carry full term,
  • As pregnancy occurs in the recipients’ body they are able to control important lifestyle factors that influence the baby’s development such as diet, supplementation, drinking, and smoking,
  • A woman is able to experience being pregnant and all the associated maternal feelings.
  • If egg donation occurs in Australia, the child is legally able to identify their biological mother from the age of 18.

What are the disadvantages of Egg Donation?

  • The mother does not have any biological connection to the child, although the field of epigenetics is highlighting that what happens in utero and postpartum can have more influence than genetics on a child’s health outcomes,
  • Typically egg donation cycles can be costly, particularly if they are undertaken overseas,
  • Egg donation cycles often involve high levels of medication, particularly in the lead up to the transfer and up until 12 weeks of pregnancy,
  • Pregnant women using donor eggs can be at higher risk of developing high blood pressure disorders such as pre-eclampsia. Early research suggests, this is due to an increased immune response, to the implanted embryo which is genetically foreign to the mother’s body,
  • Egg donations that occur in Australia require the child to be able to trace their biological mother from the age of 18 (this is not necessarily the case in overseas donor cycles).

Summary

  • Egg donation cycles are increasingly being used by Australian women,
  • Donor cycle medication protocols can have a significant impact on the health of the donor recipient, Acupuncture, diet and lifestyle modification and nutritional supplementation can help reduce these side effects and support a healthy pregnancy,
  • Pre-conception care is just as important, if not more so, with a donor cycle,
  • The Fertility Health team at the Rozelle Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Centre (RACM) is experienced in preparing and supporting couples undergoing donor egg cycles,
  • The Fertility Health team follows best practice and the latest research in Chinese medicine and donor cycles.

Resources

For couples and women considering egg donor cycles the UK Donor Conception Network is a great resource: www.dcnetwork.org.

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