Anyone who has experienced infertility is familiar with how overwhelming it can be. Besides the emotional rollercoaster, there’s a plethora of information and options to consider. For instance, you may have heard egg donors help couples, particularly older women, realize their dream of carrying and having a baby, but you’re not sure what’s involved. To help you better understand this option, we have answered the most commonly asked questions when it comes to In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) using donated eggs.
Why choose donor eggs?
It may come as a surprise that IVF with donor eggs has such a high success rate – up to 55% – and is one of the preferred options for women 35 or older. Using donor eggs is a viable alternative for couples struggling with egg quantity or quality, genetic diseases, or previous IVF failure. The success of donor egg IVF relies on a quality database of donors and highly skilled physicians and technicians. Respected donor egg programs or networks will ensure their donors are in optimal health and age, and screen eggs to ensure only the best are made available for transfer.
Where do I start?
Once you have made the decision to proceed with using donated eggs, you’ll need to find a donor. Some people turn to family or friends, but you can also find reputable programs with an extensive egg donor database and sufficient background information about the donors.
Then, you’ll need to decide whether to use frozen or fresh donor eggs. Using fresh eggs is more complicated, and often costs more than using frozen. Fresh cycles also involve the donor and recipient having to sync their cycles, and in turn, offers little control over exactly when a transfer can occur.
Conversely, when the recipient uses frozen eggs they know exactly how many viable eggs they have beforehand and can plan for the day of transfer.
First, you’ll need to choose your donor. High quality donor egg programs provide information on all of their donors’ biological attributes, life accomplishments, and health. Some couples decide to focus on donors who have similar physical features to them, while other recipients choose to consider other factors.
After your decision, arrangements will be made to deliver your frozen egg lot – a group of five to eight of your donor’s most viable eggs – to your fertility clinic.
What happens after the eggs are delivered?
Your eggs can remain frozen at your fertility clinic until you are ready for transfer. Your fertility specialist can help you better understand the process, and will work with you to ensure you have the best chance of conceiving.
You’ll need to take medication to thicken your uterine lining to give your fertilized eggs (embryos) the best environment possible. Usually, the medication comes in the form of injections, but may also include oral medication. Most couples find that the process doesn’t interfere much in their daily lives and support one another through it. Naturally, you may be concerned about side effects, but most women experience very little or no issues with the medication.
Around 3-5 days before your transfer is scheduled, your eggs will be thawed and fertilized with your partner’s sperm. Fertilized eggs become embryos, which are then monitored for development and to identify the best one(s) for transfer.
What happens during transfer?
Depending on your situation and personal preference, one or two embryos will be selected for transfer. The transfer process is relatively non-invasive. Ultrasound is used with a small catheter-like tube to insert the embryos into the uterus. Most women report experiencing no or little discomfort, rather than pain, during the embryo transfer process. Some describe it as similar to having a pap smear.
What happens after transfer?
The following weeks are often the most frustrating as you wait for nature to take its course. It’s important to stay as calm as possible during this time. Your fertility clinic will ask you to come back around two weeks after your transfer for a blood test to measure your human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) levels. HcG is known as the pregnancy hormone and isn’t typically detectable until a couple of weeks after conception. Hopefully, you’ll receive positive news and your pregnancy proceeds like any other. In any case, your fertility clinic will be there to support you and determine your next steps.
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