Egg Donation

Last Updated: February 13, 2019

Definition - What does Egg Donation mean?

An egg donation occurs when a woman provides eggs to an infertile woman or same-sex couple for the purpose of conception with assisted reproductive technology (ART). Donor eggs are used in situations where a woman hoping to conceive a child is unable to produce or provide her own biological egg, but able to carry a child in her uterus.

An egg donation may also be called oocyte donation.

FertilitySmarts explains Egg Donation

When a woman is unable to produce viable eggs, pregnancy can only occur if a donor egg is used. Conditions that may impact a woman’s ability to produce eggs include:

  • Early menopause
  • Premature ovarian failure
  • Genetic disease or conditions
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Advanced maternal age
  • Poor egg quality

Same-sex male couples planning to use a gestational carrier may also require an egg donor.

Once an individual or couple has decided egg donation is right for them, a donor must be selected. A donor may be someone from the couple’s personal life or a stranger located through fertility professionals. Agencies, offices, or professionals may handle recruitment or obtainment of potential donors. Recipients selecting a donor typically choose based on a variety of conditions and personal choices. Considerations for donors typically include:

  • History of genetic conditions, birth defects, or hereditary diseases
  • Medical history
  • Physical exam
  • Psychological screening
  • Race
  • Education of the donor

Once a donor has been selected, the donor and the recipients are all provided with legal mediation ensuring the best interest of all parties involved. This includes any financial requirements of the donor, regulations placed by the recipients, and legal claims over any resulting pregnancy.

The early stages of egg donation are similar to other fertility treatments. Ovulation induction medication is prescribed to the donor in order to produce multiple eggs in a single cycle, as opposed to the single egg produced naturally. This medication overrides the donor’s natural cycle. If being implanted into a female recipient, the medication may sync the donor’s cycle with the recipient’s cycle. Hormonal medication is also prescribed to regulate the cycle and prevent early ovulation and control cycle length. Once the eggs are fully developed, the harvesting procedure is completed and the eggs are removed from the donor’s ovaries. At this point, the donor’s task is complete.

The eggs then undergo lab-based fertilization. The sperm sample may be a product of the recipient’s partner or another donor. Embryos are transferred to the recipient's uterus within three to five days. The recipient will be prescribed a series of hormonal medication used to imitate the hormonal changes that the body would naturally be experiencing following ovulation and the early stages of conception. Once the embryo has implanted, the body should assume the role of hormone development and begin doing so independently.

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