What Is Egg Donation?
Egg donation occurs when a woman (donor) provides eggs to another woman (recipient) to increase the odds of conceiving for the recipient female. The donated eggs are fertilized with the recipient’s partner or donor sperm. The resultant embryos (fertilized eggs) are then transferred into the uterus of the recipient or gestational carrier/surrogate.
When Is It Used?
Egg donation may be a treatment option when a woman’s own eggs are not viable due to advanced maternal age, loss of fertility due to chemotherapy or other medical treatments or unknown reasons. Women may also wish to use a donor egg if they have a genetic condition that they do not want their children to inherit.
Donor eggs may also be used for LGBT couples or single parents by choice hoping to conceive through gestational surrogacy. In the case of reciprocal IVF with lesbian couples, one parent can donate an egg to be fertilized and inserted into the other parent’s uterus.
What Do I Need to Know?
Egg donors are young women (typically in their 20s) who undergo IVF treatment. To donate eggs, the donor gives herself ovulation stimulation injection medications that will cause her to mature multiple eggs within a single menstrual cycle.
The eggs are harvested surgically under anesthesia. The extracted eggs can be frozen for use at a later time or fertilized with sperm to create an embryo. The resultant embryo can be transferred into the recipient’s uterus, genetically analyzed, and/or excess embryos can be frozen for the future.
Prior to embryo transfer, the recipient takes hormone medications (including estrogen and progesterone) for a few weeks to prepare the uterine lining for implantation of the embryo into her uterine cavity. Since egg donors are young, most egg donor cycles result in enough eggs and embryos to have multiple children from the same egg donor cycle, since extra embryos can be banked for the future. This efficiency is one advantage of egg donation over adoption.
Hormone medications will continue to be given until the pregnancy test. If the pregnancy test is positive, the recipient will continue taking medications through the first trimester of the resulting pregnancy to maintain the pregnancy.
Information Source: American Society for Reproductive Medicine