IVF has been a blessing for couples and individuals who have difficulty getting pregnant naturally. But sometimes, the quality of either the eggs or sperm won’t be good enough for fertilization and pregnancy.
In such cases, the couples can choose to use donor eggs or sperm in place of their own. Donor eggs are oocytes donated by a third-party woman to help other couples get pregnant.
Egg donor IVF is a good way to achieve pregnancy if your egg quality is low. In this article, we’ll look in detail at the steps involved in the egg donor program.
Steps Involved In Donor Egg IVF Procedure
A donor egg is an oocyte collected from a third-party woman who is willing to donate her eggs to other couples. These eggs are fertilized with your male partner’s sperm or donor sperm to result in pregnancy.
The various steps involved in the donor egg program are as follows.
Evaluation Of The Recipient
When you visit your ivf doctor for IVF treatments, they won’t immediately suggest you choose donor eggs. They will first take some tests and determine the quality of your eggs.
If your egg quality is good, you can use your own eggs for IVF. If the quality of your eggs is average, your doctor will still try to conduct IVF with your eggs for about two or three cycles.
Only when there is no chance of using your eggs will your doctor suggest using donor eggs. Some factors your doctors will consider while evaluating your condition are:
- Your age,
Whether your ovaries are functioning properly,
- Whether you have previous medical or reproductive history,
- Whether you have severe infertility conditions,
- Whether you have a poor ovarian reserve.
- Apart from the above tests, your fertility doctor will conduct several more tests to evaluate your condition thoroughly.
Evaluation And Selection Of Donor
Not only you but also your donor will be selected through strict protocols. Every hospital has an eligibility criteria that a woman should come under if she wishes to donate her eggs.
Below are the eligibility requirements to become an egg donor.
- The donor should be 21 to 30 years of age.
Her hormone levels must be normal.
- She must pass all tests performed
- She must have had a child previously.
- Her reproductive organs (ovaries, uterus, and fallopian tubes) should be healthy and function normally.
- She should have a history of genetic or medical issues.
- She should not have diseases like HIV, syphilis, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C.
- Only donors who fit into this eligibility criteria are selected for egg donation. So you don’t need to worry whether the eggs you receive will be of good quality or not.
Counseling Of Recipient Couple And Donor
Both you and your egg donor will be counseled on the benefits and risks of the procedure. You both will be informed about every aspect of the procedure, starting from the law and confidentiality of the procedures.
You will be counseled separately so both you and your donor won’t know who the other part is.
Consent Of Recipient Couple And Donor
After informing you of all the details, your doctor will start the procedure only after getting your and your donor’s consent. Ensure you read all the guidelines and understand the laws behind the procedure thoroughly before agreeing to the procedure.
Controlled Ovarian Stimulation Of Egg Donor
After getting your consent, your doctor will start the IVF procedure. The first step is ovulation induction, where the donor will be given hormonal injections to stimulate their ovaries and produce more eggs.
Oocyte Retrieval Of Egg Donor
Once the eggs are about to mature, the donor will undergo an egg retrieval procedure to collect the eggs from the ovaries. This procedure is done by inserting a speculum into the vagina to hold them open and a thin needle which is used to pierce the ovaries and collect the eggs.
This step is done under general anesthesia, so there is no fear of pain during the procedure. This is the step where the donor’s contribution to your IVF treatment ends.
Endometrial Preparation Of The Recipient
Your endometrium (uterine lining) should be ready to receive the embryo when it is transferred. If the endometriosis is not thick enough, the embryo can’t implant properly and will eventually die, causing miscarriage.
So, you will undergo hormonal treatments to prepare your endometrium and increase your chances of implantation.
Invitro Fertilization And Embryo Development
The donor egg will be fertilized with your male partner’s sperm (either through traditional IVF or ICSI) and will be monitored for growth for three to five days.
The embryos will also undergo genetic testing like PGS and PGD and will be graded based on their probability of resulting in pregnancy.
Embryo Transfer To The Recipient
You can either choose fresh embryo transfer (embryo transfer within 5 to 6 days of fertilization) or frozen embryo transfer (freezing embryos for later use).
The developed embryo(s) is collected in a catheter and injected into your uterus during this procedure. Pregnancy happens when the embryo successfully implants into the uterine lining.
About two weeks after embryo transfer, you can take a urine pregnancy test at home to confirm your pregnancy. You can also visit the hospital and take a blood pregnancy test or undergo an ultrasound if you are not sure about home pregnancy tests.
Factors For Procedural Success
Remember, apart from the quality of your eggs, there are many factors that determine your IVF success rate. Some of those factors are detailed below.
- Your age. Your fertility and chances of pregnancy decrease as your age increases.
- Your donor’s age. Your donor should also be at a reproductive age and have good fertility to increase chances of IVF success.
- Your endometrial thickness. As we saw earlier, your endometrium should be receptive to the embryo during implantation. Your embryo can’t implant otherwise.
- The quality of your embryo. Your embryo needs to be of good quality to implant in the uterus and grow into a healthy baby.
- Your weight. Though not very common, being underweight, overweight, or obese can affect your chances of pregnancy.
- Uterine abnormalities. Your pregnancy chances can decrease if you have complications like fibroids, polyps, fallopian tube blockages, endometriosis, etc.
Undergoing IVF and using donor eggs can be an emotional and complicated decision. But understand that the baby is yours and yours only.
Read the guidelines, consult your fertility doctor, and understand every law behind the procedure before committing to a donor egg program.
There are two types of donor eggs you can opt for:
- Fresh donor eggs. The eggs are freshly collected from the donor after ovulation induction.
- Frozen donor eggs. The eggs are frozen and used in the future.
Yes, if your first egg retrieval procedure went smoothly without any complications, you can donate your eggs again. However, according to law, a woman can only donate eggs for six times in total.
As you already know, the higher the number of eggs, the higher the chances of IVF success. But to be safe, doctors require at least 6–8 donor eggs to ensure pregnancy success.