Egg Donation: A Compassionate Choice to Help Others

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If you are thinking about donating eggs, either as a potential donor or an intended parent, this blog will provide you a piece of comprehensive information about egg donation with possible methods to make informed decisions that are best for you and your family.

Let’s take a step to understand what is egg donation and what is the procedure to donate eggs to help other women to become mothers.

What Exactly Egg Donation is?

Egg donation is administered reproduction approach that allows a woman to donate her oocytes or eggs, which will help another woman to have a baby.

In the egg donation process, a doctor normally draws egg or eggs from the donor, fertilizes them in a laboratory, and then transfers the resulting embryos into the recipient’s uterus. Doctors do this through implantation techniques such as in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Occasionally, the specialists or facility provider will freeze some or all of the embryos for later use or for implantation in different women.

How Egg Donation Works in IVF Process?

A donor egg and  IVF or IVF is an appropriate option for women who are unable to conceive.

The egg donors are usually healthy young women who have at least one child of their own. They undergo thorough medical and psychological examinations, as well as testing for diseases, to become egg donors.

let’s learn the process. I hope this step-by-step guide assists you to understand the complete procedure with donor eggs in IVF.

Step 1: Fertility Tests

An IVF starts with fertility tests. In simple words, it is a compatibility test with the egg-receiving woman or the woman who is carrying out the pregnancy.

This test is carried out to understand the phenotype and blood characteristics of the recipient. If the egg donor passes the test and if all requirements are met, then a suitable egg donor will be assigned. Usually, the identity of the donor is always anonymous.

Step 2: Counseling and Costs

Before the actual IVF process starts, one more step is performed by the doctor called counseling, to ensure that the receiver is confident and ready to have treatment with donor eggs.

At the same time, the consultant will explain everything about treatment costs and procedures. Some hospitals also offer a range of packages, which may help to make treatment affordable and cost-effective.

According to the US National Laboratory of Medicine, records in the journal ‘Fertility and Sterility’ show that 93 percent of all fertility centers in the United States offer egg donation facilities.

The same study showed that this procedure results in a successful birth 49.4–50 percent of the time.

Step 3: Retrieving Donor Eggs

Once the egg donor is chosen, the process of retrieving eggs for treatment starts. If the receiver is using fresh donor eggs, the donor will undergo her donation cycle and egg collection. Otherwise, frozen donor eggs are thawed and prepared for further processing. This procedure also helps the receiver to help her to p

Step 4: Developing Embryos

In this procedure, a donor egg is fertilized, and an embryo is developed with sperm in a laboratory. Based on the embryo’s development, embryo transfer will take place.

Step 5: Transferring Embryo

On embryo transfer day, the embryo transfers with the highest pregnancy potential of the uterus. This process offers two options for embryo transfer: fresh embryo transfer and frozen embryo transfer. Let’s understand these processes in brief.

Fresh Embryo Transfers

  • A fresh embryo transfer is usually performed 3-5 days after the patient’s eggs are retrieved. First, eggs are fertilized with sperm in the laboratory, and then the resulting embryo is grown and constantly monitored.
  • The main advantage of a fresh embryo transfer is that it reduces the time to conception because there is only a 3-5 day waiting period between egg retrieval and embryo transfer into the uterus.
  • There are some risks associated with new transfers. If a patient’s progesterone level is high, a fresh transfer should be avoided because it will interfere with embryo implantation. Similarly, if a patient is susceptible to hyperstimulation from the drugs used to enhance egg maturation, a fresh transfer could be dangerous for the patient’s health.
  • Furthermore, because many insurance organizations do not cover the expense of cryopreservation, some patients choose new transfers for financial reasons. To overcome these challenges governments of many countries are taking initiatives.
  • Likewise, on May 31, 2023, Aegon Life Insurance Company of India announced the first-ever life insurance policy tailored particularly for surrogate mothers and egg donors. According to a news release from Aegon Life, this program intends to support the government’s efforts to protect the interests of surrogate mothers and egg donors while also addressing their financial well-being.
  • Also, the company has stated that its approach is consistent with the provisions of the Surrogacy (Regulation) Act, 2021, and the Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act, 2021, both of which are driven by India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Frozen Embryo Transfers

  • A frozen embryo transfer is normally performed 6-8 weeks after the embryo has been frozen. When the patient is ready for transfer, she is given medications to simulate a natural menstrual cycle, and the frozen embryo transfer (FET) date is scheduled to coincide with the cycle to maximize implantation.
  • A FET is required if a patient wants her embryos evaluated for genetic problems. PGT (preimplantation genetic testing) is done shortly after egg retrieval. The embryo is biopsied (a small sample of the embryo is obtained), and that sample, which contains the embryo’s DNA, is examined for chromosomal and genetic abnormalities.
  • After PGT, the embryologist can select only chromosomally normal embryos for transfer. Pregnancy success is considerably enhanced by transferring only normal embryos.
  • Cofertility is a human-first fertility ecosystem, aiming to make egg freezing and egg donation more accessible. Their ‘Split’ programs allow women to freeze and store their eggs for up to 10 years free of cost, if they donate half of their eggs to their intended parents, with whom they are matched.

Step 6: Testing Pregnancy

A pregnancy test is the last step of IVF egg donation and can be taken after two weeks of embryo transfer.

This blood pregnancy test is used to evaluate if pregnancy is positive or negative by measuring HCG levels in the blood.

Depending on the HCG level, it may be repeated in two days, and the patient is then scheduled for an ultrasound at five or six weeks to date and evaluate the pregnancy.

Until the 12th week of pregnancy, the receiver continues to take hormone supplements as advised by the doctor.

Every year, the UCSF Ovum Donor Program helps over 100 couples become parents. The procedure of conceiving a baby with donor eggs may appear difficult, yet the possibility of live birth from a single ovum donation cycle is better than 60% using this program.

Future Scope For Egg Donation

Egg donation is a good option to donate eggs and help others conceive and have babies. While the practice has been around for over 25 years, ethical considerations remain central to its application and popularity. The future of egg donation likely involves continued regulation to protect both donors and recipients, as well as ongoing efforts to recruit a sufficient number of suitable donors.

Additionally, research may be conducted to further understand the long-term effects of egg donation on the donors’ future fertility and overall health.

Furthermore, there may be a shift towards greater openness and transparency in the donation process and increased recognition of the role of the donor in helping families conceive. These are some of the potential directions for the future of egg donation.

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