Egg donation is defined as a process by which a female donor provides healthy, viable eggs for the purpose of research or, in most cases, assisted reproduction. In cases of assisted reproduction, harvested eggs are used in IVF, or in vitro fertilization. Donated eggs are fertilized in a laboratory, then implanted into the recipient’s uterus with the intent of conceiving a child.
While many women know about egg donation, very few consider donating. Concerns over safety and the invasiveness of the procedure prevent many young women from learning more about the process.
However, according to a donor named Michelle from Atlanta, Georgia, the process is relatively simple, not to mention rewarding and worthwhile. In addition to monetary compensation, egg donors experience the priceless benefit of helping a couple conceive a child. Michelle simply gathered online information about egg donation in Atlanta GA and found what she needed to start the process.
Recipients of Donor Eggs
Egg donation is a method of conception usually used by women who want children, but whose bodies, for whatever reason, do not produce viable eggs. Common types of recipients include the following:
- ~Women who have trouble conceiving due to injury or reproductive illness, e.g., endometriosis, reproductive cancers, etc.
- ~Women over the age of 40.
- ~Women who carry genetic markers for certain illnesses.
Before undergoing in vitro fertilization, potential recipients must be evaluated by a physician. This evaluation usually includes a thorough medical exam, which will help determine if the potential recipient is an ideal candidate for the in vitro process. This exam typically includes the following procedures:
- ~A complete pelvic exam.
- ~An examination of the uterus, which often includes X-ray or ultrasound imaging.
- ~Screening for infectious diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, gonorrhea, etc.
- ~Depending on the potential recipient’s age and medical history, genetic testing may performed as well.
Egg Donors: Screening and Selection
Like recipients, potential donors have to undergo a battery of tests prior to the donation process. A few of those tests include the following:
- ~A full psychological assessment, which will ensure that a potential donor is mentally prepared to complete the process.
- ~Genetic testing. This will help determine whether or not a potential donor carries genetic markers for illnesses like sickle-cell disease, cystic fibrosis or fragile X syndrome.
- ~A fertility evaluation, which is performed in order to determine the donor’s ability to produce healthy, viable eggs.
- ~A complete physical examination, which typically includes a pelvic exam and ultrasound imaging.
- Screening for STDs and STIs, including HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc.
- ~Screening for illicit drug use.
- ~Full disclosure of medical and reproductive history.
Following the screening, donors begin the donation cycle. This usually lasts between three and six weeks, and typically involves the use of drugs which stimulate ovulation. Also, during the first weeks of the donation process, donors are often administered birth control pills, which helps specialists sync the donor’s reproductive cycle to that of the recipient’s.
Matching Donors to Recipients
Recipients of donor eggs have two choices regarding potential donors: they can either choose an anonymous donor, or a donor known to them (typically a family friend or relative). Both types have their advantages, which include the following points:
- ~A known donor may provide prospective parents with a deeper level of trust and kinship. For example, when working with a friend or family member, recipients know more about a donor’s past, health, etc.
- ~An unknown donor provides the benefit of anonymity; donors will have no future relationship with the parents and child in question, which many recipients find advantageous. Also, anonymous donors are often familiar with the process, and have undergone extensive screening prior to donation.
Harvesting Donor Eggs
During harvesting, a donor’s eggs are retrieved via a thin needle which is guided by ultrasound imaging and inserted into the body. Since the donor is sedated during retrieval, there is usually little pain or discomfort. The retrieval process is done on an outpatient basis, and typically lasts between 20 and 30 minutes.
In Vitro Fertilization
Following egg retrieval, the recipient’s partner will provide a semen sample so that harvested eggs may be fertilized in a laboratory setting. Fertilized embryos are kept and cared for in a lab, then transferred to the recipient’s uterus after a waiting period of five or six days.
In order to increase the odds of conception, at least two embryos are usually implanted. It should be noted that, while this does increase the chances of reproduction, the implantation of multiple embryos can increase the odds of multiple birth pregnancies. Unused embryos are either stored for future use, donated for research, or destroyed.
Following implantation, recipients receive a maintenance dose of progestin and estrogen. These hormones are essential to a healthy pregnancy, and further increase the odds of a successful procedure.
Now you have all the facts surrounding egg donation. If you think donating or receiving eggs is right for you, talk to your doctor or a fertility specialist today!