Egg donation allows women to become pregnant even when they lack eggs of their own, or they have been diagnosed with poor quality eggs, or ovarian issues. The technique is most commonly used in women who are unsuccessful after undergoing cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF), those with premature ovarian failure or elevated FSH levels, and those over the age of forty-three. The combination of young eggs and optimal preparation of both donor and intended mother makes egg donation a very successful fertility procedure.
The process of egg donation requires that the components of a single IVF cycle be divided between the donor and the intended mother. The donor undergoes the initial steps of IVF, including ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval, and the intended mother undergoes the embryo transfer.
Traditionally both women’s cycles must be synchronized using medications such as the birth control pill. When the cycle begins, the donor is administered the medications required for a standard IVF cycle, while the intended mother takes a combination of estrogen and progesterone to prepare the uterine lining for implantation. It’s at this time that the mother should be practicing pre-conception care, eating healthy, de-stressing and getting plenty of rest.
Now, with recent improvements in embryo freezing, comparable pregnancy rates are being observed between fresh and frozen donor egg embryos allowing much greater flexibility in scheduling. Once the donor’s eggs are mature, they are retrieved using the standard trans-vaginal ultrasound-guided method of follicle aspiration. The sperm is provided by the intended mother’s partner (or by a donor) and fertilization takes place in the laboratory.
Sperm can be shipped to the fertility clinic and embryos can then be created from donor eggs. The intended mother can then undergo the embryo transfer at a later time convenient to the intended mother, with minimal hormonal treatment.
Typically an embryo transfer is scheduled 3 – 5 days later. The intended mother continues to take estrogen and progesterone through the end of the first trimester to mimic the hormones produced by the ovary in natural conception. At the end of the first trimester (twelve weeks gestational age, or approximately ten weeks after embryo transfer), the placenta produces the necessary hormones, and the estrogen and progesterone supplementation is no longer required.
If you or someone you know has questions about egg donation, inrtility, ovarian reserve, FSH or other fertility-related questions, feel free to call Santa Monica Fertility. Our clinic is always available to help answer your questions and guide you on your path to parenthood.