Egg donations are commonly performed at fertility centers as part of assisted reproductive technology (ART). During this procedure, a fertile woman donates an egg that is used by another woman who is trying to conceive, rather than using her own eggs.
This option is often recommended to women who cannot use their own eggs; however, can still carry a baby in their uterus. Women whom have diminished ovarian function, advanced reproductive age, or premature ovarian failure, typically have decreased chances of in vitro fertilization being successful. Women who are carriers of genetic anomalies may not be able to produce normal, healthy embryos. Using an egg donor offers these patients a higher chance of success
In addition, same-sex male couples would need to use the egg donation process. Dr. Bruce Albrecht and Dr. Dana Ambler can help women in and around Denver, CO, determine if this is the right option to achieve a couple’s specific goals in creating a family.
The Donor Egg Process
What To Expect
When a couple decides to move forward with donor egg treatment, our physicians at Denver Fertility will provide them with a specialized donor egg treatment plan.
Although the patient will not be using her own eggs, she will still be carrying the child; therefore, there are still some screening tests that will need to be performed. Egg donation itself is a straightforward process, but it will require a substantial time
commitment. The screening process alone requires a medical exam, psychological evaluation, and physical assessment. If you are found to be a viable candidate, you will then discuss with your physician how to choose a potential egg donor.
Selecting An Egg Donor
Denver Fertility will try to make the selection process as smooth as possible for our patients. Recipients make their final decision about which donor to choose based on a number of factors, including:
· Age: Because the quality of eggs generally diminishes with age, women who are in their late 30s or older may not be ideal candidates for egg donation. The older the egg, the less likely the recipient is to conceive a child.
· Physical characteristics: Donor egg recipients do not choose their donor eggs blindly. They will likely base their choice at least partly on physical traits that may be passed on to the child, including their IQ or ethnic background. Each donor has a profile featuring demographic characteristics and childhood photos. The profile also includes the donor’s individual and family health history, her likes and interests, and a personal essay about her motivation to donate eggs.
· Genetic or infectious diseases: Because a genetic disorder can be passed to a child and an infectious disease to a recipient, donors are carefully screened to make sure any risk is low.
Some recipients may opt for a known donor (ie. a friend or family member). Others go through an agency to find a donor, or use a frozen donor egg bank. Whichever option you choose, please know that we at Denver Fertility are here to help.
Donor Egg Retrieval Process
A single cycle of donation typically takes between two to three months in total, including the first few weeks of screening. There are several steps for an egg retrieval cycle.
· Synchronization: If you choose to have a fresh embryo transfer, the egg donor and the recipient will take hormones to synchronize their respective menstrual cycles. In most cases, you will take birth control pills while suppressing your natural cycle with daily injections until you have synced up with the recipient.
· Donor stimulation: After a short course of birth control for synchronization of the eggs, the egg donor will receive high doses of follicle-stimulating hormones to promote the production of several eggs at once. This step typically takes 8-12 days to complete.
· Egg retrieval: Once the eggs are ready for harvesting, one of our doctors will remove them through a minor outpatient surgical procedure. First, the donor will be given anesthesia. Then, an ultrasound probe will be inserted into the vagina and a thin needle will be inserted alongside the ultrasound probe to remove the follicles using gentle suction. Later that same day, the eggs will be combined with sperm through the IVF process (see image below).
Following the retrieval procedure, the donor should rest for one full day or a few days if possible.
Once the embryos are created and genetically tested in the laboratory, the patient will prepare her uterus for an embryo transfer.
The decision to use an egg donor is a highly personal one. Ready to take the next step to find an egg donor? Contact our office online or by calling (720) 464-3935. Our goal is to help make infertility treatments affordable and to help people become parents.