Egg donation is the process in which a fertile woman donates some of her eggs to intended parents (IPs). Prospective parents may be women who don’t have good-quality eggs (also called oocytes) due to age or medical or genetic problems. They also can be a single male or a same-sex couple.
Under strict medical guidance, the egg donor undergoes a controlled, yet safe ovarian stimulation leading to the egg retrieval. Laboratory professionals combine the retrieved eggs with sperm, and the doctor transfers the resulting embryos to the recipient's or surrogate’s uterus. Egg donation can be anonymous or known.
The use of donor eggs is becoming more common, and there are many reasons why intended parents seek egg-donation.
Women diagnosed with premature ovarian failure (POF) can use egg donation to help increase their chances of pregnancy with the eggs of a donor who was strictly selected to provide the best quality oocytes.
Egg donation allows women who are suffering from fertility damage caused by cancer treatment the possibility of becoming a mother after treatment, especially if they were not able to freeze eggs.
Other women who might need egg donation include those who have genetic conditions, such as Turner syndrome, that cause ovarian reserve issues and females who have experienced IVF failure and who can benefit from the improved pregnancy rates with an egg donor.
The egg donation program is also a solution for single males and gay couples who want a child using their sperm and donated eggs.
Most fertility clinics have an egg donation coordinator who will guide parents-to-be through the process and answer all questions and describe possible outcomes.
American Fertility Services has its own in-house egg donor pool where intended parents can define search criteria, such as educational background, hair, eye color, and other characteristics. If they do not find an egg donor that fulfills their wishes, then we can contact an egg donor agency.
In some cases, parents know a woman who would like to be their egg donor. Our physicians will review her medical status and determine if she is an appropriate candidate to donate eggs.
The screening process typically includes meeting with the doctor and a nurse coordinator to review medications and the donor's menstrual cycle, medical and genetic testing, and talking to a psychologist or social worker about whether she is ready to donate her genetic material.
At AFS, we thoroughly screen the donors before placing them into the donor database. They are ready to start their cycle upon confirmation that they are your ideal match. In the case of an outside egg donor agency or a known donor, they must fulfill the same screening criteria as the donors we recruit.
Egg donors and intended parents both need a signed contract and other documentation before starting the egg donation process. Whether it is an open or known donation or an anonymous one, lawyers for each party will draft a contract where the terms and conditions of future contact by the parents or the child are specified, and the donor relinquishes any parental rights on the resulting child. Attorneys who specialize in reproductive law draft these documents.
Once medical screening is complete and the intended parents and donor sign their contracts, the medication cycle will start. All egg donors are placed on birth control pills to synchronize their menstrual cycle in preparation for their donation.
If the intended parents are using frozen donor eggs, the laboratory will fertilize these eggs with fresh or frozen sperm. For these cycles, we will prepare the intended mother's or the gestational carrier's endometrium for the transfer.
Egg donors will take daily injectable fertility drugs to produce multiple eggs. We will monitor her with an ultrasound and blood work to confirm her response to medications. The donor will administer medication for 10-13 days before she is ready for the egg retrieval.
The egg retrieval is a minor surgical procedure done under conscious sedation. The doctor retrieves eggs from each ovary under ultrasound guidance with a small needle through the vaginal wall. Usually, the retrieval takes about 30 minutes.
After the retrieval or thaw of frozen donor eggs, the laboratory will be combine these eggs with the sperm, and the doctor will transfer to the uterus of the recipient or gestational carrier.