What is egg donation?
This is a question I am asked all the time. (These egg donation bloggers are probably too.)
Egg donation is the process in which a woman gives her eggs to other people so they can have children of their own. Most of the time, egg recipients are infertile couples who cannot have children without medical help. Sometimes egg recipients are single women or men, and sometimes egg recipients combine donated eggs with the use of a gestational surrogate, a woman who agrees to get pregnant and have a baby for the intended parents. Fertility clinics and egg donor programs usually manage the egg donation process from start to finish.
Unlike sperm donation, egg donation involves taking several drugs and undergoing a medical procedure to remove the donor’s eggs. The first phase of egg donation usually involves taking drugs to synchronize the donor’s menstrual cycle with the intended mother’s cycle. Once synchronized, the egg donor begins taking drugs to stimulate her ovaries to make extra eggs. The final phase, called egg harvesting, involves surgically removing the eggs from the donor’s ovaries. During the egg harvesting phase, the donor is put under light anaesthesia (called “twilight”) so she feels no pain, and doctors place a small needle into her vagina to remove the eggs in a process called egg harvesting. The entire process, from synchronizing her cycle to egg harvesting is called an “egg donation cycle.”
Egg donors report that the process can be physically uncomfortable for a few days before returning to normal.
Anonymous egg donation vs. known egg donation
Anonymous egg donation is when the donor and the intended parents don’t know each other. In anonymous egg donation, an egg donation agency or fertility clinic recruits donors, then matches them with intended parents based on criteria selected by the intended parents. Anonymous egg donors are always paid for donating eggs. Usually payment is between $5,000 and $10,000.
Known egg donation is when the donor and the intended parents do know each other. In known egg donation, the egg donor is a friend or relative to the intended parents. Known egg donors are usually not paid for their eggs.
Egg donation and IVF (in vitro fertilization)
After they are harvested from the donor’s ovaries they are used for infertility treatments on the egg recipient, the aspiring mother. Most of the time, donated eggs are used in a medical infertility treatment known as in vitro fertilization, or IVF. In IVF, doctors fertilize a woman’s eggs—in this case donor eggs—with a man’s sperm inside a laboratory. After the eggs are fertilized, the doctors place the resulting embryos into the woman’s body. If a pregnancy develops, the egg recipient can gestate and give birth.
Egg donation, IVF, and PGD
Sometimes egg donation using IVF is performed with another medical procedure known as Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, or PGD. In PDG, doctors take a one cell biopsy of each of the embryos and test them for a number of things, including the sex of the child and heritable genetic diseases, such as Huntington disease, cystic fibrosis, and muscular dystrophy.
Read a step-by-step explanation of egg donation procedures and learn about IVF success rates using donor eggs.