Egg Donation: Stepping Up To Help Others Build Families

Egg Donation: Stepping Up To Help Others Build Families

A Selfless Donation

Egg donation is an essential part of the assisted reproductive technology (ART) world. Even with procedures like in vitro fertilization (IVF), some women are still unable to conceive using personal eggs. Whether the concern is quantity or quality, a good egg is essential to creating an embryo and getting pregnant. When all other approaches fail, an egg donor can be a great solution for couples looking to start or grow a family.


When IVF fails

If a couple is having difficulty getting pregnant, IVF is often recommended. With this procedure, the woman is given fertility medication to stimulate egg growth. The eggs are then retrieved and combined with sperm to create an embryo, which is transferred back into the uterus for implantation. However, in some cases, the IVF process stops short. Women who are older or have primary ovarian insufficiency (POI) may not produce any viable eggs during the cycle. In other cases, eggs may be retrieved but of low quality. Even if the egg and sperm are successfully combined in the lab, a healthy embryo may not be produced.

Who needs a donor?

For many fertility patients, trying IVF again after a failed transfer is an option. This is especially true if the woman is young and healthy. If a woman desires a genetic connection with the baby, continuing to try traditional IVF for a few more cycles makes sense. For other women, moving on to alternative options once an IVF cycle fails is the best idea. Older fertility patients, couples who have problems with both the egg and the sperm, and women desiring the experience of carrying a baby regardless of genetic connection can benefit from the use of an egg donor.

Egg donor eligibility

An ideal egg donor is a woman in good health, typically on the younger side, with excellent egg quantity and quality. Women interested in donating eggs will undergo an appointment with a doctor, who will conduct a physical exam and order blood work. The donor will be checked for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and syphilis. Hormone levels will also be assessed, and genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis (CF), will be screened for. Many donor agencies also require the woman to undergo a psychological exam, ensuring the donor understands the risks, benefits, and long-term repercussions of giving up eggs for another woman to use.

Back to IVF

Once a couple selects an egg donor, IVF is once again required. The donor will receive fertility medication to stimulate egg growth so as many specimens as possible can be retrieved. During the retrieval, the donor is given a sedating medication to help promote relaxation. The process is short and easy, and the donor can return home the same day. From there, the egg is combined with the male patient’s sperm, or sperm from a male donor, to create an embryo for use. The intended mother undergoes an embryo transfer, and if all goes according to plan, a successful pregnancy is achieved.

Important considerations

First and foremost, donors should understand that if the procedure is successful, a genetically related child will exist in the world, but no connection between the donor and baby will occur. Although this anonymity is a positive for most donors, keep in mind that the child can often find the biological parent using genetic databases, so complete secrecy cannot be guaranteed. Women interested in serving as egg donors should do so with altruistic intentions. The goal is to provide an egg, help a woman in need, and then move on.

Is egg donation right for you?

Many factors go into the decision about whether to donate eggs. Although this selfless act can help a woman in need, there are important medical and ethical implications to consider. If interested, speak with a healthcare provider to determine how to start the process. For some women who have not had success with IVF, a healthy egg from a donor can be the difference between a childless future and a family. This compassionate choice can change a couple’s life.

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