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How Does Egg Donation Work?

Perhaps you are interested in becoming an egg donor, or maybe you’ve decided to use an egg donor for reproductive assistance. Egg donation is facilitated by a fertility specialist who extracts eggs from a donor’s ovaries and either freezes them for future use or fertilizes them immediately for implantation in a woman’s uterus in order to start a pregnancy.

Who Uses Donated Eggs?

There are a wide range of reasons a woman may choose to use an egg other than her own to have a baby, all of which are related to infertility in some way. Singlemen and gay couples must also use an egg donor in order to have a baby. In these instances the egg is usually fertilized using semen from one of the men who will raise the baby.

There are many situations in which an individual or couple can use an egg donor to start a family. Some common reasons to use an egg donor include:

  • Age – A woman’s ovaries contain all the eggs she’ll ever need from birth. As a woman ages, so do her eggs. For some women, usually after age 35, this means that her eggs are no longer able to produce a successful pregnancy.
  • Early Menopause – The early onset of menopause can begin at age thirty or younger, leaving these women very little time to start a family.
  • Medical Reasons – A woman with a reproductive disorder, ovaries damaged by a disease or disease treatment, or who was born without ovaries may choose to use an egg donor to start a family.
  • Repeated Failed Pregnancies – Women of all ages have a hard time getting or staying pregnant, often for unknown reasons.

Overview of the Egg DonationProcess

Egg donation takes place at a fertility clinic and is performed by a fertility specialist.

Finding donors: When eggs are needed for reproductive assistance, egg donors are often recruited. Not just anyone can be an egg donor. The preferred candidate is in her twenties, a non-smoker or drug user (prescription or illegal), physically fit, in good health, and has no history of genetic diseases on either side of her family.

Egg donors are usually anonymous, but in some instances, when both parties agree to it, the person or couple who will use the donated eggs is able to meet the donor before moving forward with the process. In the rarest of instances, the donor stays part of the child’s life in some way; however, usually a child from a donated egg never meets his or her biological mother.

Some parents will request a certain genetic profile in a donated egg. The parents may be looking for an egg donor who has a similar hair color, eye color, and complexion as they do, so their child is more likely to look like them. Sometimes a donor that fits the criteria can be recruited through an agency that specializes in oocyte donation.

Extracting eggs: A fertility specialist harvests eggs at a time from the donor. Egg donors are given a health screening to determine whether or not they are physically and mentally suitable to donate eggs. The exam includes a pelvic exam and pap smear, a pregnancy test, blood tests to determine hormone levels and the presence of any infectious diseases, and a psychological screening by a mental health professional.

The egg donation process lasts from three to six weeks each times eggs are extracted. Both the donor and the recipient who will carry the fertilized egg to term are given hormone therapy for the first few weeks to get them onto the same reproductive cycle.

The donor receives a series of injections of follicle-stimulating hormone therapy that tells her ovaries to prepare several oocytes (mature eggs) for release. The egg extraction procedure itself is done under sedation on an out-patient basis and takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Guided by ultrasound, the fertility specialistuses a long, thin needle to aspirate the eggs from the follicles of both ovaries.

What happens to the eggs after extraction?

A prepared sample of sperm is used to fertilize the eggs after extraction. Fertilized eggs are monitored for about five days in a lab until they reach the blastocyst stage. Fertilized eggs that have matured to blastocysts are capable of producing their own nutrients for survival until implantation occurs. One or more blastocysts are transferred to the recipient’s uterus for implantation in the uterine wall, which takes about one week.

6 Comments

  1. Jhon Clark on May 16, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I believe that the most important part of the entire process is to find the right donors. It goes without saying that the women need to be healthy with no adverse genetic traits and also addictive habits. It is best to check the medical history of the people coming up; I think the best that anyone can do is approach an egg donation center of repute and get healthy eggs from women who meet these and other essential criteria. I guess the specialists and doctors would be the best people to take a call.



  2. bev on October 16, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Hello
    We are very much wanting another baby. I am 53 years old and VERY fit and healthy. We would like to go ahead with an egg donor but don’t know whom to contact. We live in Singapore and are from New Zealand. Infomation to connect with the appropriate contacts would be so helpful to us.
    Kind regards
    Bev and Paul



    • Lauralea Adkins on November 17, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Greetings,

      You can request information regarding IVF services and options from our contact page
      http://www.lajollaivf.com/contact



  3. Amanda on August 15, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Hi I am 29 years old and would love to donate my eggs how do I find out if I can?



    • Lauralea Adkins on August 15, 2017 at 2:11 am

      Egg donation is an amazing experience. I suggest you fill out our contact form where our coordinator can work with you directly. Have a wonderful evening.



  4. Leena on September 4, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Hi I’m 34 and I’m willing to do it contact me .