Egg donation is a process where a woman gives her eggs to another woman so that the recipient can conceive and have a baby. The donor must receive fertility medications which will stimulate the ovaries to develop multiple eggs. This process of stimulating the ovaries is similar to that of a woman undergoing IVF. Once the eggs are mature, they are gently removed from the ovary of the donor by placing a needle that is attached to an ultrasound probe through the vaginal tissues. Once removed, the eggs are evaluated by an embryologist. Then sperm from the male partner or a donor has placed around or injected directly into each egg by using the ICSI technique. The resulting embryos are then cultured and are allowed to develop for five to six days until they are at the blastocyst stage. At that time the best one or two embryos are transferred into the uterus of the recipient which has been prepared and synchronized with the same stage of the embryo development to ensure implantation. A pregnancy test will be performed approximately ten days later to confirm implantation and pregnancy. The remaining embryos that are not transferred are usually frozen for possible future use. At times, the recipient woman is not ready to undergo an embryos transfer, and all of the embryos are frozen for use in the future.
Egg donation is a good option for a woman who wishes to have a child but cannot get pregnant with her own eggs. Several health conditions can prohibit a woman from producing viable eggs necessitating the use of donated eggs from another woman. These conditions include premature menopause, diminished ovarian reserve and a history of poor egg or embryo quality with multiple prior IVF attempts. Women may also choose to use an egg donor if they have a known genetic condition that they do not wish to pass on to their children.
Evaluation of the recipient is similar to that of couples undergoing routine IVF. This should include a comprehensive medical history from both partners, including blood type and Rh factor, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV, hepatitis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis. The couple should be counseled by a mental health professional about the complexity of the decision to use donor eggs.
The recipient should have a pelvic exam and an assessment of her uterus (womb). If she is over 45 years old, a more thorough evaluation should be done, including an assessment of heart function and risk of pregnancy-related diseases. She may also be advised to see a doctor who specializes in high-risk pregnancy. The male partner’s sperm should be analyzed and appropriate genetic screening should be obtained based on his history and ethnic background.