Egg donation (also called oocyte donation or ovum donation) can be used as an effective treatment for infertility of all causes except for women with infertility caused by an anatomic problem with the uterus, such as severe intrauterine adhesions. Success rates with egg donation are high, particularly as compared to pregnancy rates in women with poor egg quality and quantity.
Donor egg IVF is generally used only in women with significantly diminished egg quantity and quality (poor ovarian reserve). This includes women with:
- Premature ovarian failure (menopause)
- Very poor egg quality
- Poor response to ovarian stimulation
- Significantly elevated day 3 follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) level
- Very low antral follicle counts on ultrasound
- Advanced female age, such as over about 39-40
How are the egg donation procedures performed and how is the timing of IVF with donor eggs done in donor egg IVF cycles?
An appropriate egg donor is thoroughly screened for infectious diseases and genetically transmissible conditions. Donors are generally given monetary compensation for going through the treatment. The egg donors are anonymous to the recipient couple.
The donor is stimulated with injected medications to develop multiple egg development. This allows us to perform in vitro fertilization with her eggs and the sperm of the infertile woman's male partner.
With egg donation, a lining thickness of 8mm or more is desired to maximize success rates. Usually it is not difficult to get a good lining thickness for egg donation, but sometimes we need a modified estrogen protocol to get sufficient thickness.
Egg donation process
When the donor's follicles are mature, an egg aspiration procedure is performed to remove the eggs from her ovaries. The eggs are then fertilized in the laboratory with the sperm of the infertile woman's male partner. The eggs are used fresh and are not frozen for later use. In the future, frozen donor eggs might be used routinely for egg donation. However, current egg freezing technology does not allow the same high success rates that are seen when using fresh eggs. However, freezing of leftover fertilized embryos is now routine, and success rates using frozen embryos are good.
Getting the proper timing in IVF with donor eggs between the uterine lining in the recipient and the developing embryos is critical for a successful donor egg IVF cycle.
The embryos develop in the laboratory for 3 to 5 days. Then, an embryo transfer procedure is done which places the embryos carefully in the recipient woman's uterus where they will hopefully implant and develop on to a successful pregnancy and birth.