How Egg Donation Saved My (Future) Pregnancy

Hi, I’m Stephanie, a first-time egg donor from Denver, Colorado. As a twenty-something, my life has been pretty fast-paced over the past few years. From a cross-country move, finding a career, getting married, buying my first home, and now egg donation. I got married in August of 2015. We bought a house in October 2015 with the plans to (soon) fill it with babies of our own.

My husband and I each made “pre-baby bucket lists” of all the experiences we wanted to have before becoming parents. Among the exotic vacations and adrenaline-filled adventures, egg donation was something I knew I wanted to do.

So in December 2015, I applied with multiple agencies/clinics to donate my eggs. I was quickly accepted to several, but after talking with past egg donors (thanks, We Are Egg Donors!) I narrowed the list to one clinic that had the best reviews from donors.

Months later, when all the genetic tests came back clean, I was selected to donate to an egg bank. I flew out to my clinic for the first time in April 2016. This visit was to meet the doctors and coordinators, schedule my cycle, and to get baseline ultrasounds to determine my Antral Follicle Count -- or AFC -- basically,  my egg reserves were being tested.

I had never had an ultrasound before. Why would I? As a woman in my early twenties who has never been pregnant or had fertility problems, there would be no need for me to have an ultrasound prior to pregnancy, except for the fact that I was in the egg donation process.

I laid back, feet in the stirrups -- hoping I had a high AFC. The physician quickly got to each ovary and counted the follicles (27 total) and seemed over the moon with those numbers.

She continued to do a full pelvic exam. Her face quickly fell from elated to concerned. I asked if everything looked okay.

She told me: “Donor XXXX, you have an abnormal uterus. I can’t tell you exactly what the abnormality is, but it isn’t life-threatening. You can still donate, but I highly recommend you see your PCP before conceiving your own children.”

To be honest, the news didn’t really phase me. I was still excited about donating my eggs. I flew home that day and told my husband what the clinic’s physician had said. We decided to call my primary care physician and see what she thought. She ordered immediate ultrasounds.

I was diagnosed with a bicornuate uterus.

My first thought was: “What the heck is that?”

A bicornuate uterus is the most common type of mullerian duct anomaly and can be seen in 1-5 of every 1000 women. Basically, it’s a  spontaneous “deformation” that is a result of under-development in the womb. You see, during fetal development, the uterus starts as two halves (mullerian ducts) and fuse together, creating one uterus.

My uterus is only partially fused, leaving an extra wall down the middle of my uterus, splitting it in two.

The only way that my condition could be detected is by ultrasound.

Usually, women do not know they have this condition until they experience multiple miscarriages or are pregnant. The live-birth rate with this condition is about 45-50%.

Women have no problem getting pregnant, but a good amount of those pregnancies result in stillbirth or miscarriage. An additional 25% result in preterm birth.

While the risks of egg donation are alarming and mostly unknown, I am extremely thankful for egg donation. Without egg donation, I would likely have conceived in the next year and not thought twice about it. Based on the available statistics, it is very likely that a pregnancy would not have resulted in live birth.

I owe egg donation a huge “thank you” for potentially saving me unimaginable grief and heartache. Now that my doctors and I know that I have a bicornuate uterus, we have a plethora of options. I can have surgery to correct it before conceiving, take progesterone shots during pregnancy, and much more.

Most importantly, knowledge is power. My OB/GYN knows that any pregnancy I have will be high risk. I will need additional monitoring and likely need a C-section, even if I had surgery to correct the abnormality.

A big thank you to We Are Egg Donors for educating me on the egg donation process and introducing me to some of the most incredible women. Without WAED, I likely would have given up on egg donation long ago and would not have found out about my condition until it was too late. After assessing the risks, I know egg donation is right choice for me, and WAED has played a huge role in helping me come to that conclusion.