How Does Egg Donation Work?

recipient and donor
What Is The Egg Donation Procedure?

There are two separate processes when it comes to egg donation - one for the egg donor (the woman who gets paid for donating her eggs) and the egg recipient (the woman who pays for the eggs). The responsibility of an egg donation clinic is to bring both women together and to carry out the medical procedure. Before we go any further, make sure you read: What is egg donation? and what is an egg donation clinic?

Egg Donor Procedure

1. Firstly you have to be accepted by a clinic onto their books. Read about what type of egg donors do clinics want? If you pass the initial interview you will need to be screened, undergo physical examinations, blood tests and scans.
2. Prospective parents will be given a list of potential donors, and if they like your profile the clinic will inform you. There are always lots more women seeking eggs than women prepared to donate, so you shouldn’t be waiting long.
3. Once you have been matched with a recipient, the procedure starts for real. The egg donation process consists of 2 phases. In the first phase you will be given infertility drugs to stimulate your ovaries into releasing multiple eggs during your next menstrual cycle (without drugs you are only likely to produce one egg). The recipient will be paying the clinic for multiple eggs because not all will survive the process. So the fertility drugs are to make those ovaries work harder! Most donors will be given 3 different types of fertility drugs, 2 of which need to be injected daily. A third type of drug called human chorionic gonadotropin will be injected 34 to 36 hours before retrieval. You may also be given oral contraceptives to regularize your menstrual cycle.
4. Common side effects of the fertility medications include bloating, mood swings, bruising at injection sites, as well as temporary menopause symptoms including vaginal dryness and hot flashes. Serious complications are rare. It should not affect your own fertility in the long-term.
5. The second phase is known as egg retrieval. This involves a minor surgery, a process called transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. You will be sedated and won't remember it. During the procedure a long thin needle is inserted through the wall of your vagina, to the ovaries and the eggs are suctioned out. You may be given a tablet beforehand to take to prevent you feeling sick. You will stay in the clinic for 1 to 2 hours for observation and then return home to recover. You will be given an antibiotic to take and told to return one week later for a check-up.
6. The aspiration process can be quite uncomfortable and surgical risks include damage to the ovaries, infertility, vaginal bleeding and internal cuts. Fortunately these complications are rare in healthy young women, it is estimated that only 1.5 percent requires hospitalization due to complications after the surgery.
7. So how long does it all take? Expect to spend about 60 hours in total over a period of 4 to 8 weeks, for testing, screening and medical appointments. Throughout the process you need to abstain from sex as you will be highly fertile.

Egg Recipient Procedure

Firstly, be sure to read what are the pros and cons of egg donation? Also, check out what is the cost of egg donation? If you’ve done all this and still want to continue, congratulations! You have a very exciting journey ahead of you. Have you chosen a clinic yet? If not, read how can I find an egg donation clinic? Once you have located your clinic, the process will proceed something like this:

1. When you join a fertility clinic you will meet with a counselor who will explain the treatment protocols and how they go about recruiting the donors. They will also explain how they match donors to the intended parents. If you have specific requirements (such as ethnicity, hair or eye color), this is the time to tell them. If they don't have a suitable donor on file, they can recruit one. It may just take a little extra time. If you're not looking for something out of the ordinary (like a Yale educated, blond, blue-eyed beauty as a donor), then you can expect to wait about 6 weeks for a match. The clinic will give you details of suitable candidates, including their photo, medical history and personal details.
2. Both intended parents will need to be screened for potential health problems. This is to ensure that the woman’s body is able to cope with pregnancy and that the man’s semen is of good quality. It will involve blood tests and your partner will need to give a semen sample. If you are over the age of 45 you may also need heart disease tests - IVF treatment is riskier for women with heart problems.
3. Next you will undergo a mock trial - this means you will be given fertility drugs to check the response of your womb. If it responds well, the process continues. If it doesn't, this raises the risk of failure, and given the costs involved you may decide not to proceed any further.
4. You make your final decision on which donor to go with.
5. You will start on daily fertility injections, at the same time as the donor.
6. Once the eggs are to be retrieved from the donor, your partner needs to give a sperm sample. This is sent to the lab, along with the retrieved eggs for fertilization. The eggs are incubated for 3 to 5 days and graded. Only the best (the ones most likely to survive) are selected. The average selection rate is around 60 percent of eggs collected. The clinic will phone you with the results and you will agree together how many eggs to implant.
7. The embryos are implanted into your womb. This is a simple IVF procedure that does not require anesthetic.
8. How long does it take from start to finish? In total, one treatment cycle takes between 4 and 8 weeks.
9. A blood test within 9-11 days will indicate if you are pregnant or not. If you are, a prenatal ultrasound scan will be performed in another 14 days. This will tell you how many embryos are present. A scan 2 weeks later again will confirm a heartbeat.

Related Questions
How does a doctor test for infertility in women?
How does a doctor test for infertility in men?
Understanding the risks: What is a chemical pregnancy?
Doing a little planning ahead: What is cord blood banking?

• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions

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