Treatments for Fertility & Infertility

Egg Donation and Other Fertility Treatments

At Santa Monica Fertility, we offer egg donor IVF as one of a variety of fertility treatments. The right choice for each patient depends on the underlying cause of infertility, the number of children desired, views on the use of donor reproductive material, and many other factors. When maternal age is a primary cause of low fertility, donor eggs are often the preferred choice for treatment. Since a traditional donor egg cycle can be prohibitively expensive for many patients, we offer shared egg donation option to dramatically reduce costs.

Standard Shared Egg Donation IVF Process

fertility treatmentsOnce a desired donor is screened, selected, and approved, the process of cycle synchronization begins. The donor receives hormone injections over 10-14 days to induce the recruitment of multiple egg follicles from each ovary. At the same time, recipients undergo adjustment of their cycle using hormones to ensure the lining of their uterus is prepared to receive an embryo for implantation.

Note: If both recipients of the shared donation desire fresh eggs, both mothers must be at the same point in their cycle along with the egg donor. However, our advanced vitrification technology also allows us to freeze eggs or embryos successfully. This option allows shared egg donation to be scheduled more easily while still delivering excellent results, similar to those seen with fresh eggs.

When ultrasound and blood tests reveal that the eggs are mature, they are retrieved from the donor. Between 10 and 20 eggs are recruited in a typical cycle. Since eight eggs are provided to each recipient in a shared donation, only donors with a history of making a sufficient number of eggs are permitted to participate in this program.

The retrieved eggs are fertilized using sperm from the intended fathers. This may be done by placing a sperm sample in a dish with the egg. If there are male fertility factors that reduce the chances of sperm penetrating the egg, or if Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis will be performed, eggs are fertilized by injecting a single sperm into each one. After 24 hours, fertilization can be confirmed and the embryos are incubated in the IVF lab.

When the embryos have developed to the appropriate stage (day 3 or 5), one is selected for use and carefully transferred into the uterus with an ultrasound-guided catheter to ensure proper placement on the uterine wall. The mother continues to receive hormones until the placenta develops and can begin producing hormones to support the pregnancy.

How Does This Compare to Other Fertility Treatments?

The donor egg IVF process is similar in many respects to traditional IVF. However, with traditional IVF, the patient goes through both the egg recruitment phase and the egg retrieval herself. This is an outpatient procedure using conscious sedation. It involves using an ultrasound-guided needle to penetrate through the vaginal wall and gently suction the recruited egg follicles from the ovaries. The rate of live birth per embryo transfer with IVF is based on age with lower rates seen in women over the age of 35 using their own eggs rather than donor eggs. For this reason women over 40 or those with egg quality issues should give careful consideration to egg donation.  The age of the mother has a significant impact on success rates with traditional IVF, while it has little or no impact on success rates when donor eggs are used.

Intrauterine insemination (IUI or artificial insemination) is another common fertility treatment. This approach uses a sperm sample from the male partner or from a sperm donor transferred into the uterus to achieve conception. It may help overcome fertility issues that impact the ability of sperm to travel successfully into the uterus. The success rates per cycle are much lower than for IVF or donor egg IVF. However, the success rate is cumulative, meaning multiple tries may increase the overall chances of success. It is also minimally invasive and less costly than IVF. However, IUI does not address fertility challenges caused by poor egg quality. This is why a full fertility screening is important before patients make a decision on the best course of treatment.

Fertility Treatments and Remedies for Men

For men who are impotent or experience premature ejaculation, medical and behavioral approaches may help improve fertility. If the male partner does not ejaculate sperm due to birth defects, infectious diseases, or a vasectomy, sperm can be retrieved surgically from his epididymis (where sperm is stored) or from a testicle. One sperm can then be injected into the egg (ICSI procedure) to achieve fertilization.

Sometimes surgery or hormones can correct a male fertility problem. For example, a dilated vein in the testicle (varicocele) can change the temperature in the testicle adversely affecting sperm production. Surgical intervention to repair the dilated blood vessel may restore normal function. The following lifestyle changes may also improve sperm quality and sexual function for men:

  • Eliminating cigarette smoking
  • Moderating alcohol and caffeine intake
  • Maintaining normal body weight
  • Avoiding testosterone-like supplements
  • Taking a multivitamin with antioxidant ingredients

Fertility Treatments and Remedies for Women

For those women who are having reproductive issues due to lack of ovulation, a tablet form of fertility medication can be used to induce ovulation. For women with a condition called PCOS, drugs that improve insulin function are used. Surgery to restore reproductive function is indicated for women with blocked tubes, birth defects of the uterus, or the presence of fibroid tumors in the uterus or uterine cavity. Healthy lifestyle habits and a low stress level may also improve overall fertility for women. However, even a very health-conscious lifestyle can’t reverse the effects of aging on a woman’s eggs.

To begin the process of fertility evaluation and learn whether the use of donor eggs may be appropriate for you, contact our office at (866)-991-1990.


Photo Credit: Total Health Dentistry

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