Getting Pregnant With DOR
Diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) is a medical condition where the ovaries produce fewer eggs than expected. Women with this condition are less likely to get pregnant naturally and may require in vitro fertilization (IVF) to have a baby. Egg donors are one option that can be used by women with DOR to increase the chances of conception.
How many eggs is enough?
At birth, a female will have 1-2 million eggs. With time, this number declines. At puberty, 300,000-400,000 eggs remain, and by the time menopause hits, less than 1,000 eggs remain. Women with diminished ovarian reserve have fewer eggs than expected, but there is no formal cutoff in place to make this diagnosis. Rather, the doctor uses ovarian reserve testing to check the patient’s blood for certain hormone levels, which can better predict fertility.
Causes of a diminished reserve
Aging naturally reduces the total egg count, so women nearing menopause will be less likely to get pregnant. However, DOR can also happen at a younger age due to chemotherapy, autoimmune conditions, smoking, pelvic infections, endometriosis, and genetic abnormalities.
Could it happen to me?
The main symptom of diminished ovarian reserve is an inability to get pregnant. Late or nonexistent menstrual periods, shorter cycles, and heavy flow can also occur. A history of miscarriage may be another sign of DOR and should be investigated further.
Only one egg needed
Depending on the number of eggs remaining and the blood test results, pregnancy may still be possible for women with DOR. Since only a single egg is needed, some women will go on to get pregnant without intervention. For others, assisted reproductive technology (ART) may be required. IVF is most commonly utilized for women with a low egg count.
IVF for DOR
Women with a diminished ovarian reserve may choose to pursue IVF in order to freeze eggs for future use. Although IVF cannot create new eggs, fertility medication can stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs at once. The eggs can then be extracted and stored for future use. This is a good option for women with DOR who may not be ready to have a family quite yet but want to preserve fertility.
The egg donor option
Another option for women with low egg count is using an egg donor. Egg donation is when a woman donor provides eggs to another woman to create a pregnancy. The donor will undergo IVF to have the eggs retrieved. The eggs can then be combined with the sperm of the recipient’s partner to make an embryo. After maturing in the lab for a few days, the embryo will be transferred into the recipient’s uterus to be carried.
An emotional journey
Although a DOR diagnosis can devastate any woman wanting to get pregnant naturally, all hope is not lost. With the use of IVF and an egg donor, pregnancy can be achieved. Not having enough eggs is an emotional challenge that can be solved.