My IVF Cycle Failed – What Went Wrong? Question #17: Why Didn’t I Get Pregnant When I Used a Young Egg Donor and Had Good Quality Embryos?

30 Aug
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This is #17 in a series of answers to common questions about failed IVF.

For women whose advancing age and/or ovarian resistance make having a baby with their own eggs unfeasible or unlikely, IVF using donated eggs from a young donor (under 35 years) is an excellent option and is statistically highly successful – with approximately 60% conceiving following embryo transfer. The main reason why IVF with egg donation is so highly successful resides in the improved number and quality of a younger woman’s eggs:

  1. Younger women usually have a healthy ovarian reserve and are thus capable of yielding numerous eggs at the time of egg retrieval (ER).
  2. Since age is the major determinant of egg chromosomal integrity (the rate limiting factor in human reproduction), the eggs of younger women are far more likely to be “competent,” meaning that upon fertilization, they are capable of propagating chromosomally normal (“competent”) embryos. Such embryos are the ones that are most likely to develop into normal, healthy babies.

Women choosing to undergo egg donation understandably have high expectations of a successful outcome, and when they fail to conceive, they are often bewildered, angry and feel betrayed. But there are explanations as to why IVF with egg donation can and does fail.

  1. Even younger women can have diminished ovarian reserve that goes undetected. In other cases, in spite of best effort on the part of the treating medical team, an egg donor will have a low yield of eggs.
  2. Less than half the eggs of younger women are euploid (have a normal number of chromosomes) and abnormal (“aneuploid”) eggs cannot develop into competent embryos.
  3. The eggs derived from very young donors (in their late teens or early 20’s) are often of poorer quality and may produce more “incompetent” embryos. That is why, in my opinion, the ideal age of an egg donor is between 26 and 35 years.
  4. In addition, very young donors are much more prone to ovarian hyperstimulation on fertility drugs. In such cases, egg quality can also be compromised.
  5. On the other side of the equation, there is the reality that some embryo recipients may have embryo implantation dysfunction(usually undiagnosed). This can be due to:o Inadequate endometrial (uterine lining) thickness(more common in post menopausal women who have had prolonged estrogen deprivation).o Previously undetected/unaddressed uterine surface lesions that interfere with implantation (submucous fibroids, scar tissue or polyps)o Immunologic implantation dysfunction which often goes unsuspected, undetected, undiagnosed and untreated.
  6. Hitherto unrecognized male factor infertility.

Unless such issues are addressed, even the transfer of the very best quality donor embryos will often not propagate viable pregnancies.

The answer (as always) lies in the fact that each egg donation candidate and her partner must be thoroughly evaluated before embarking on a cycle of IVF with donated eggs, and each egg donor must be carefully selected and evaluated for ovarian reserve.

In my opinion, the ideal egg donor is 26-34 years of age, has regular ovulatory cycles, has had no prior difficulty in achieving pregnancy and (ideally) will in the past have successfully donated eggs which propagated one or more viable pregnancies. True, it is rare to find all these attributes in most egg donors, but knowing the “best case” criteria can help a couple more effectively evaluate their donor choices and optimize their chances of IVF success.


  • Jennifer says:

    I am on donor egg ivf started with BCP for 10 days,on 07-12-14 started three estrace pills and two minivelle patches, change every three days, I have light bleeding from 07-14 to 07-22, very reddish.
    07-21 & 07-22, get a little bit heavy, with clots. My E2 is over 2000 (07-17-14), 1276 (07-21-14), lining
    Thickness is 5mm(07-17) ,7-8mm (07-21). My question is , why I have bleeding for 9 days? Is it normal ?
    My RE doctor said as long as my lining getting thicker, they will start me on POI and then ET
    On 07-31-14. What you suggestion? Should I keep moving on or stop this cycle?

    • Geoffrey Sher says:

      Your lining, in my opinion needs to be >8mm to proceed with ET. If that happens, the bleeding will likely stop and you could proceed..
      Good luck!

      Geoff Sher

  • amydk says:

    hi dr sher,
    I just had a bllighted ovum at 6 weeks from a donor egg, age 27, has a child. We received 6 eggs, all fertilized, 2 tranferred.
    beta 121, 255 (48 hours later) then 1056.
    I have had three prior miscarriages –
    5.5 weeks (natural pregnancy)
    9 weeks post heartbeat (natural pregnancy) – pre MTFRH diagnoiss, no meds
    7 weeks IVF no heartbeat (taking lovenox and prednisone and folic acide)

    and now, 6 weeks with donor eggs. (taking lovenox but not prednisone)

    Does this DE failure point to an immunilogical problemm or is it just par for the course.

    • Geoffrey Sher says:

      That is definitely one of the distinct possibilities.

      Please go to the home page of When you get there look for a “search bar” in the upper right hand column. Then type in the following subjects into the bar, click and this will take you to all the relevant articles I posted there.
      1. “An Individualized Approach to Ovarian stimulation” (posted on November 22nd, 2010)

      2. Ovarian Stimulation for IVF: The most important determinant of IVF Outcome” (Nov. 2103)

      3. “Agonist/Antagonist Conversion Protocol”

      4. “Immunologic Implantation Dysfunction” (posted on May, 10th and on May 16th respectively.

      5. “Thyroid Autoimmune Disease and IVF”

      6. “Embryo Implantation………” (Part-1 and Part- 2—-Posted August 2012)

      7. “Recurrent Pregnancy Loss!”

      8.“A personalized, stepwise approach to IVF at SIRM”; Parts 1 & 2 (posted March, 2012)

      9. “IVF success: Factors that influence outcome”

      10. “Use of the Birth Control Pill in IVF”

      Consider calling 800-780-7437 or 702-699-7437 to arrange a Skype with me so we can discuss your case in detail.

      Finally, perhaps you would be interested in accessing my new book (recently released). It is the 4th edition (and a re-write) of “In Vitro Fertilization, the ART of Making Babies”. The book is available through “” as a down-load or in book form. It can also be obtained from most bookstores.

      Geoff Sher

      P.S: Please go to
      To view a video-tutorial by Linda Vignapiano RN, Clinical Manager at SIRM-Las Vegas.

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