What is Egg Donation?
Egg donation involves the use of eggs from a young, fertile donor to produce a pregnancy. The recipient couple is given profiles of IVF donors from which to select. Once the donor is selected, she will take fertility drugs to produce multiple eggs. These eggs are then used to produce embryos for use in the recipient couple.
When is Egg Donation Recommended?
Egg donation is a useful procedure for women who either do not have functioning ovaries or who have ovaries that are not producing good quality eggs. The most common indication for donor eggs is infertility in the older female. Fertility declines with advancing age of the female. This decline appears to be due predominately to aging of the ovaries and poor egg quality.
Choosing a donor
We use both known donors and anonymous donors. If a patient has a suitable known donor, i.e. a relative or friend, that person may be used as the egg donor. However, most patients do not have such a known donor and we will help recruit an anonymous egg donor. Egg donors, regardless of whether they are known or anonymous, are rigorously screened both medically and psychologically.
After a donor is selected, she will undergo ovarian stimulation to produce multiple eggs. The recipient woman’s menstrual cycle is synchronized to that of the egg donor. Once the eggs are harvested from the donor, they undergo in vitro fertilization using sperm from the recipient’s husband. The resulting embryos are cultured in the laboratory for several days, and then transferred into the uterus of the recipient woman. The recipient is given hormones to prepare her uterus for embryo implantation and to maintain a pregnancy should implantation occur.
If a pregnancy occurs, the recipient woman will be maintained on hormonal support until the end of the 1st trimester of pregnancy. At this time, the placenta will make sufficient hormones to support the pregnancy and hormonal supplementation can be discontinued. The remainder of the pregnancy should be no different than a spontaneously conceived pregnancy.
Several issues concerning the use of donor eggs warrant consideration. First, the legal status of a baby born through the use of donor eggs has not been addressed by the courts in Arkansas. Although we have not experienced any legal problems with donor egg cycles in our program so far, the potential for such problems does exist and we advise all parties to obtain independent legal counsel regarding this matter prior to embarking on a donor egg IVF cycle.
Second, the recipient couple should carefully consider what they would tell friends, family members and most importantly, the offspring, about how the child was conceived. Third, the couple should carefully consider whether they are comfortable with using eggs from another woman. The use of donor eggs is not for everyone. The recipient couple should agree that using eggs from another woman is acceptable to both of them.