Egg donation can be a life-altering experience for both the donor and the recipient. It is an act of generosity that will affect all involved for years to come. More and more women are choosing to donate their eggs, and it’s a path that’s becomingly increasingly popular among those who wish to grow their families but have issues with ovarian again, either premature or age-appropriate. Drew Tortoriello of Sher Fertility Institute in Manhattan, New York breaks down what’s involved in the egg donor IVF process.
The Egg Donation Process
There are 2 main reasons why a woman may turn to egg donation in her quest to have a child:
- Decreased ovarian reserve (from natural aging or prematurely from genetic mutations, ovarian surgery, or exposure to things like chemotherapy or radiation therapy) or
- Decreased oocyte quality (poor embryo development noted in multiple failed IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) cycles.
We are able to effectively overcome these fertility challenges by creating a pregnancy using an oocytes donated from young woman who undergo the IVF process on behalf of another.
Recipients are able to review multiple donor profiles to select the one they feel is best for them. Once a donor is selected, the process begins by coordinating the donor and recipient’s cycles. Timing is important since the recipient’s uterus needs to be ready or “receptive” as soon as the embryo is ready for transfer, namely after 5 days of development. Fertility medications are taken to suppress hormones and “quiet” the recipient’s cycle. This is followed by about 15 days of estrogen and progesterone hormone supplements to thicken the uterine lining and prepare it to receive the embryo.
After the embryo transfer, the recipient is advised to avoid over-exertion, rest much, and hydrate well. Approximately nine days post-transfer a blood pregnancy test is performed. A few weeks after pregnancy has been confirmed, the recipient will have an ultrasound to make sure the pregnancy is progressing normally.
Egg donation is a very powerful decision for many women. Providing someone with the opportunity to become a parent through egg donation, either compensated or not, can be a very rewarding feeling.
Becoming an egg donor generally begins with a screening questionnaire that covers things like social background, personal and family health history, and lifestyle choices. Donors must be healthy and ideally between the ages of 21 and 30. They are required to undergo psychological and medical screening. Once you have been accepted as an egg donor and matched with intended parents, you’ll receive hormone injections to stimulate egg production. In a minor procedure under sedation, a fertility specialist will retrieve the eggs using a vaginal approach, and these eggs go to the lab where they are introduced to sperm. Once fertilized, the embryo is observed for healthy development for 5 days. Usually a single healthy appearing day 5 embryo called a blastocyst would be transferred to the recipient’s uterus where it will, if all goes well, develop into a healthy baby.
Learning that donor eggs is the best option for you can be surprising, and often brings up many strong emotions. A biological connection is extremely important to many people and realizing it’s not possible can be difficult to overcome. However, many of our patients say that carrying the baby – feeling every kick and hiccup – and giving birth creates an unspeakably strong connection.
If you’d like to learn more about egg donation and how it could benefit you, schedule an appointment at Sher Fertility Institute in Manhattan, New York to meet with a physician and discuss your options.