Donor Egg IVF

Definition - What does Donor Egg IVF mean?

Donor egg IVF is an in vitro fertilization (IVF) process that uses the eggs of a donor rather than the eggs of the woman undergoing IVF. Donor eggs can be fresh or frozen, creating multiple options for treatment. By using eggs that are healthy and viable, this method can greatly increase the chances of pregnancy, especially to recipients that are over the age of 40.

FertilitySmarts explains Donor Egg IVF

During an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, eggs are harvested and fertilized with sperm in a lab. The resulting embryos typically grow for 3 or 5 days and are then transferred to a uterus, where hopefully implantation occurs and a successful pregnancy results.

For donor egg IVF, the entire procedure is the same, except that the eggs used come from a donor instead of from the intended parent. Donor eggs are an option for a woman who wishes to get pregnant is over 40, is going through (or has already gone through) menopause, does not respond to fertility drugs, suffers from premature ovarian failure, has diminished ovarian reserve (DOR), has had her ovaries removed, has had radiation therapy, or is at risk for passing on a genetic disorder. Because donor eggs are typically obtained from women aged 18-35, using them for IVF essentially erases any of the effects that a woman’s age has on her chances of becoming pregnant. Additionally, same-sex male couples may choose donor egg IVF to build their family.

There are many organizations that run rigorous screenings on donors, ensuring that they meet physical, psychological, and genetic standards. Donors undergo testing for the presence of any infectious diseases that might be passed on to a child, such as hepatitis, HIV, or syphilis, as well as their blood type, and their medical history is established to make sure there are no harmful family traits that might be inherited. Embryos used for donor egg IVF typically undergo preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) to determine which one(s) are best for transfer and this procedure increases the chances of conception for a woman over 40 from 15-18% with their own eggs to 50% with a donor egg. Risks are limited to those associated with regular IVF, along with the chance of miscarriage. Also, multiple pregnancies are possible (from the transfer of more than one embryo).

Donor egg IVF can use fresh eggs or frozen ones. Using fresh eggs involves getting the recipient’s menstrual cycle synchronized with the donor’s. This gives the embryo the best chance of implantation by making the recipient’s uterus as close to normal pre-implantation conditions as possible. Using frozen eggs is less expensive, faster as the eggs are readily available (they are held in storage until they are needed), and there is no need to synchronize cycles with the donor. Moreover, if multiple eggs are obtained and banked, there is potential for genetic siblings in the future.

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