In support of International Women’s Day we are celebrating the amazing women that gift their eggs to help others to have a baby.
International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women, and the theme this year is #ChooseToChallenge.
Donated eggs give hope
One of the missions is to assist women make informed decisions about their health.
Menopause is one of those areas selected this year. Although associated with women in their 50s, the symptoms of perimenopause can start as early as 40 years of age, or younger.
Women are born with all the eggs they will ever have, and they lose them gradually over time. However, the rate of loss increases significantly after the age of 35 and for some women even earlier. It can be a deep shock to find that they have had a premature menopause in their twenties.
The condition is often inherited so by making women aware of the risk of premature menopause they can be empowered to make decisions – perhaps to start their family earlier, to consider freezing their eggs to preserve their fertility or to be aware of the option to use donated eggs within fertility treatment.
Bourn Hall was the first to freeze sperm and more recently improvements in the technology to freeze eggs has made it possible to create a frozen egg bank. This has made it easier for women to choose to donate their eggs altruistically and for others to share their eggs during treatment and gain reduced-cost treatment.
Every egg donated is very precious and can make a life-changing difference to another’s life.
“I was absolutely devastated”
Paula will always remember the day she was told that she had no eggs. She says: “I was absolutely devastated, I cried all night in despair.”
Paula’s early menopause was masked by her Mirena coil; this contraceptive device releases a synthetic form of the female hormone progesterone. It is often recommended for women with heavy periods as it can reduce or stop periods entirely.
When in her early thirties she had the coil removed to start a family her periods were initially very irregular, but she assumed this was her cycle settling down and did not seek help for a while. It was only after several years that it was finally revealed by a blood test that she probably had Premature Ovarian Failure.
“I went on a real downer,” she recalls. “I was still young but felt I wasn’t a woman any more. I kept asking myself ‘what if I had done this, what if I had done that’. I thought I would never have children – it was so hard to bear.”
The twins, Aidan and Ethan, were born after IVF treatment with donated eggs.
Paula says: “I call them my little miracles. I think of the donor all the time and just couldn’t thank her enough. We owe her so much for the joy she has given us.
“To anyone considering donating I would say, ‘be very sure that it is what you want to do’, it is not an easy decision. To give someone who craves a baby with her whole being the chance of being a mother is probably one of the most generous things you could ever do.
“I can still remember the pain when I was told I had no eggs and now I have these beautiful babies; I can’t begin to describe the joy.”