For many couples, the dream of having a child is not easily realized. There are numerous causes of infertility that can interfere with the conception of a healthy baby. While standard IVF treatment can often help couples overcome many of these obstacles, the procedure can only succeed if the woman has an available supply of good-quality eggs. For some women, infertility is a result of poor egg quality or ovarian function, surgical removal of ovaries due to chemotherapy, or genetic issues. For these women, the use of donor eggs becomes an excellent option when exploring treatments that will lead to the conception of a child. Egg donation is always used in combination with IVF treatment.
The egg donation process involves a donor selected by the recipient couple, either known or anonymous, who will go through ovulation induction to produce multiple eggs. The eggs are retrieved from the donor and fertilized with the recipient’s partner’s sperm and the embryos are then transferred to the recipient. It is important to understand the role of each participant, the donor, recipient and recipient’s partner, when exploring the option of donor eggs as fertility treatment.
Egg donation has become a very successful treatment option. Often times, the IVF pregnancy success rates using egg donors surpass the traditional IVF pregnancy rates because the results reflect outcomes of using healthy eggs donated by young women, overcoming the cause of infertility in the recipient.
Typical Egg Donation Cycle
As in typical in an IVF cycle, an egg donor will be given fertility medications to stimulate the production of multiple eggs. During this time, her progress will be evaluated through blood hormone assays and ultrasounds to ensure the eggs are developing according to plan. Once her eggs are mature, the donor will take an HCG (human chorionic gonadoropin) injections the last step in preparation for retrieval.
Preparing the Recipient’s Uterus For Implantation
Since the eggs we are retrieving from the donor will be transferred to a recipient, while the donor is going through the egg production process, the recipient is given hormones that will prepare the uterus to receive the embryos and support a pregnancy. The readiness of your uterus will be evaluated through blood test and ultrasound. Typically, a mock cycle will take place prior to the actual recipient cycle to ensure the uterus is prepared to accept the embryo. This mock transfer process is necessary to ensure the actual embryo transfer goes smoothly and embryo implantation is optimized.
Approximately 36 hours after the HCG injection, the donor will undergo an egg retrieval. Using a hollow, ultrasound guided needle, the eggs are gently removed from the follicular sacs on the ovaries. This is called follicular aspiration. The egg donor receives light IV sedation during this procedure and should experience little or no discomfort.
Once retrieved the eggs are immediately sent to the embryologists where they are prepared for fertilization. The eggs are then combined with your partner’s sperm and placed in an incubator where fertilization takes place. After fertilization, the fertilized eggs are now called embryos.
Depending upon the development of the embryos, the transfer will take place on either Day 3, or Day 5 once the embryos have developed into blastocycsts. They are placed through the cervix into the uterine cavity using a small, soft catheter. At this time, you may also be offered the option of cryopreservation (freezing) for any embryos not transferred during this donor cycle. These frozen embryos can be used for future frozen embryo transfer cycles.
Testing for Pregnancy
Two weeks after the embryo transfer will be a pregnancy test. If the test is positive you will return for a second confirmation within a couple of days. You will then return the following we for ultrasound confirmation. We will then follow your progress with blood work and ultrasounds for early pregnancy hormonal monitoring before returning you to your OBGYN.
What is Shared Donor Egg IVF?
Shared Egg Donor IVF means that two recipient couples will be matched with one egg donor for that IVF cycle. The menstrual cycles of all three women are synchronized and the eggs that are retrieved from that donor are split between the recipients. Shared Donor Cycles allow a couple to split the donor costs which include testing, treatment and compensation. After the eggs are fertilized and the embryos are transferred, any remaining embryos can be used for a future frozen embryo transfer cycle.
Contact our South Florida office for an appointment and further information.