Fertility Treatment: Donor Eggs

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1. What Are Donor Eggs and Who Uses Them?

Donor eggs are eggs that are donated for another woman to use to obtain pregnancy. Egg donation is sometimes also referred to as oocyte donation. For women who are not able to get pregnant using their own eggs, donor eggs can be a great option. Most of the time, donor eggs are used by women who have few or no remaining eggs of their own, or who have diminished egg quality.

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Women with early menopause or premature ovarian failure are good candidates for donor eggs, as are women with a history of genetic disease, hormonal imbalance or ovaries that do not respond to ovarian stimulation. Women who are over 40 are also good candidates for using donor eggs.

2. Selecting An Egg Donor

Once a woman decides that she is serious about pursuing donor eggs, she should decide if she plans on using eggs from a family member, a friend, or a stranger. No matter what a woman chooses, the donor should be screened for several different things, including medical history, social history, history of birth defects or hereditary diseases, testing for STD’s and screenings for other medical conditions, etc. The woman who is pursuing the donor eggs will also have to go through a medical screening and make sure that there are no underlying problems that would get in the way of using donor eggs.

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3. What Happens Next?

After a donor has been chosen and both donor and recipient have been approved, the process will begin. The egg donor will receive ovarian stimulation just like any other woman would do in preparation for IVF. The donor will be monitored to see when her follicles are fully developed. Then, she will be given hCG to trigger ovulation and her eggs will be retrieved about two days later.

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Hopefully, the donor and the recipient will have synchronized cycles by this time. Being on the identical cycle offers the best chance of having the lining of the recipient’s uterus prepared to support the embryo. On the day that the eggs are retrieved from the donor, a semen sample will be obtained from the male partner. The semen and eggs will be fertilized in the lab. The embryos will then be transferred to the recipient 2-5 days after the egg retrieval.

4. More To Know

There are many factors that contribute to the success of the egg donation process. Obviously younger donor eggs are preferred in this situation. Using donor eggs has pretty good success rates. Up to 48% of women who use donor eggs will get pregnant. There is around a 20% chance that the pregnancy will result in multiples. Costs for using donor eggs usually range from $15,000 to $20,000.

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Dr. Lynette Weiss is ConceiveEasy's Senior Physician and Scientific Director. She is certified in Obstetrics and Gynecology by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology and is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology.