Egg Donation

Egg donation is the process by which a woman provides eggs to another woman and/or women for purposes of assisted reproduction. The need for women to donate eggs may arise for any number of reasons including:

  1. Women whose own eggs are of poor quality and who have failed multiple IVF cycles.
  2. Women who are younger but have premature ovarian failure.
  3. Women who are older and whose FSH is elevated and whose chances of achieving a pregnancy with their own eggs is negligible.
  4. Women who are born without ovaries.
  5. Women whose ovaries and eggs are damaged from disease and/or chemotherapy or who have been forced to have their ovaries surgically removed.
  6. Women with chromosomal translocations or genetic diseases that they do not want to pass on to their children.
  7. An egg donor is also required for gay couples using gestational surrogacy in order to have children.

Finding an egg donor:

Our clinic usually recommends using an egg donor agency to help our patients find an egg donor unless the patient(s) are able to use family members or friends who are willing to help them out. We do not recommend finding egg donors on the internet as this type of reproductive cycle is quite complicated both legally and medically. A good agency is invaluable to steer people through these complicated waters. We at La Jolla IVF want to do the best we can for patients and what we do best is the medical side of these complicated cycles. We believe that having an in-house agency is a conflict of interest and we are not in the business of procuring egg donors. We certainly will help patients screen egg donors once they have been matched and in many instances, we help patients actually select their egg donor by evaluating several different donor profiles and giving feedback as to who we think would be the most appropriate egg donor for that particular patient.

If you have an interest in contacting us to obtain a list of egg donor agencies we have worked with and with whom we have a good working relationship, please email our Patient Coordinator, Ezarra at: or call (858) 558-2221.

Donor Screening:

Any potential egg donor should be screened for the following:

  1. Agency questionnaire regarding history of birth defects or hereditary diseases
  2. Medical and social history
  3. Psychological screening provided by the agency
  4. An additional medical and social history performed by La Jolla IVF
  5. Physical examination performed by Dr. Smotrich
  6. Infectious disease testing as per FDA rules

Over an above these screenings, most patients who are going to use an egg donor will also look at many personal issues of importance such as:

  1. Physical appearance
  2. Ethnicity
  3. Interests and talents
  4. Reason for donating. There should be some indication that a donor has some interest in donating beyond simply the money. In our opinion when a donor has some altruistic motivation in addition to the money, they seem to be more compliant in terms of their treatment protocol.

One additional issue that we counsel patients to be aware of is that there is a difference between a “proven donor” and one that has never donated before. A “proven donor” is a donor who has donated before and whose donation has resulted in a pregnancy. Such donors obviously remove much of the guess work in an egg donor cycle. Their genetic and infectious disease screening from their previous cycle(s) are useful information and we also will know in advance how they respond to the medication that stimulates their ovaries to produce eggs as well as knowing whether their eggs have produced a pregnancy. We have seen a higher pregnancy rate with “proven donors” as opposed to young ladies who have not donated before. Having said that, however, this does not preclude patients from using donors who have not donated before if they fulfill other criteria that are of importance to the patient. It is just an additional element for patients who are looking at egg donation to be aware of in their decision-making process.

Legal Contracts:

At La Jolla IVF, we require all egg donor cycles to be performed under the auspices of a legal contract. This requirement even pertains to patients using “known” egg donors such as family members or friends. Our clinic works with some very knowledgeable reproductive lawyers and all the egg donor agencies we work with have some very proficient lawyers who provide the legal contracts.

Out of state and out of country patients:

Many of the patients that come to La Jolla IVF for egg donation come from great distances. In fact, approximately 70% of the patients who are being treated at our facility for egg donation come from other states or from foreign countries for this treatment. Many countries simply do not allow egg donation which for some older women may be the only method available to achieve a pregnancy. Among those that do allow it such as the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, nearly all prohibit compensation for the donor. This greatly limits the pool of available donors and has created long waiting lists. In Australia, for example, waiting lists for altruistic donors can be upwards of five years. By then the intended mother herself may even be too old to carry a pregnancy. In contrast, in the United States and particularly in California, egg donation is a recognized treatment modality and the fact egg donors are compensated for their time, inconvenience and going through the treatment is an acceptable practice. All patients using an egg donor are provided with a nursing coordinator who will help arrange all the treatment protocols for the patient and the egg donor and who will be the contact at the clinic. Dr. Smotrich is very experienced at treating patients from “out-of-town” and coordinating the patients’ cycles with those of their egg donors. Our goal is to eliminate any concerns or anxieties that long distance treatments and traveling out of state or country for medical care can elicit.

Treatment Process:

Briefly, the egg donor herself is given medication to stimulate her ovaries to grow multiple eggs. While her eggs are growing the recipient of the donated eggs takes hormones (estrogen and progesterone) for about two weeks to synchronize her cycle with the donor’s cycle. Therefore the recipient’s uterine lining develops as the donor’s eggs grow which optimizes the implantation environment for the embryos which would be transferred three to five days after the egg retrieval.

Success rates:

In 2008 through 2010 our clinic’s egg donation pregnancy rate has been approximately 72.9% per embryo transfer.
Click here to view our detailed Success Rates.

In conclusion:

Egg donation is a highly successful assisted reproductive treatment for certain types of patients. This is a wonderful option to build a family. It is not without its complexities both psychologically for the patient and logistically in terms of the cycle itself. At La Jolla IVF we understand the enormity of this choice and our egg donor coordinators as well as the staff and physicians of the practice and fully aware and extremely supportive of both the egg donors and the recipients. We offer personalized, one on one care to ensure the comfort of all our patients. For many recipients of the egg donation process, the birth of their baby/babies is the start or completion of their family. According to most of our egg donor recipients, once the child and/or children are home with them and they are involved on a daily basis with caring for and providing for their child’s and/or children’s emotional and physical needs, this becomes the family’s focus rather than where the eggs that helped produce their wonderful child/children originally came from.