Donor Egg IVF Can Be a Successful Alternative!
When all efforts to use your own eggs fail to help you achieve pregnancy, you may want to take a break and reconsider your options. While adoption is always a possibility for some couples, the use of eggs from a donor can be a good choice for several reasons. Many women still like the ability to carry a child that has the genetic link to their male partners and the fulfillment from that special maternal bond that develops during the nine months of pregnancy. With adoption, it can take years of preparation and legal paperwork to complete the process. Furthermore, the cost of adoption can be very high, often ends up costing in excess of $30,000. For many women, donor egg IVF can provide a reasonable alternative after exhausting all options with their own eggs.
In an effort to further reduce the cost of donor egg IVF treatment, we began recruiting our own egg donors in late 2013. Using IVFMD donors can result in significant savings in the overall cost of the process. Once becoming an established patient you can review the complete profile (including pictures) of the donors.
If you are considering the donor egg IVF option, below is a brief summary of the process:
1. Donor Selection
The first step of the donor egg IVF process is to choose an egg donor. The egg donor can be an anonymous donor or someone you know like a relative or a friend. At IVFMD, we see the best results in cycles that use eggs from donors between the ages of 22-32. Once the donor reaches age 35, she tends to produce fewer eggs that are also of lower quality. The risk of creating abnormal embryos rises significantly after age 35.
There are donor agencies that advertise for potential egg donors in college campuses or newspapers for healthy women who are typically in their 20s or early 30s. The potential candidate completes an initial application and submits a recent picture of herself.
The donor information package available for review by the recipient typically consists of data on her medical history, family medical, genetic history (if known), physical descriptions, special interests, and talents, etc. There may also be a brief personal message from the donor saying why she wants to donate eggs. Identifying information from the donor and the recipient (names, contact information) are kept separate and are strictly confidential.
Agencies can provide you with several donor profiles that best suit your criteria. Once you have decided on a particular candidate, the agency would arrange for her to undergo psychological screening and then to come to us for the egg donor evaluation if she passes the initial screening.
An egg donor candidate will have an interview and physical examination and a pelvic sonogram. A battery of blood tests will be ordered for the donor to screen for communicable diseases as required by the FDA. This lab panel has to be repeated within 30 days of egg retrieval, and the donor has to pass the screening both times before she can be allowed to proceed with the donation process.
2. Synchronization of Egg Donor and Recipient Cycles
Once the donor is approved, we proceed to synchronize the cycles of the egg donor and recipient by using birth control pills. The donor and the recipient can start the pills on different days (during the first 5 days of their cycles) but would discontinue using them in the same week in order to menstruate within a short interval of each other.
In the donor egg IVF cycle, the uterus of the recipient is the focus of attention, not her ovaries. She would take Lupron, an injectable medication that prevents her pituitary from sending out signals to stimulate the ovaries. Full suppression of the ovaries is the goal.
While on Lupron, she will take estrogen to stimulate her uterine lining (the endometrium) to grow. She typically starts estrogen a week before the donor begins ovarian stimulation.
Like the recipient, the egg donor will use the pill to suppress her natural ovarian cycle in order to be in synchrony with the cycle of the recipient. Depending on the stimulation protocol, the egg donor may or may not use Lupron during this initial interval.
3. Ovarian Stimulation
The egg donor will begin injectable medications to stimulate the ovaries at a certain point in the donor egg IVF process. She will undergo intense monitoring with sonograms and blood works for about 10-12 days before egg retrieval.
Meanwhile, the recipient continues estrogen and Lupron and has sonograms and blood tests to assess the growth of her uterine lining.
4. Egg Retrieval for the Egg Donor
On the day of retrieval, the donor undergoes egg retrieval under IV sedation given by an anesthesiologist. Her contractual obligation as an egg donor ends after this day.
All eggs collected are now in possession of the recipient couple and are fertilized by the sperm of the recipient’s partner on the same day. The recipient discontinues Lupron on the day of egg retrieval while continuing to use estrogen. She would also start using progesterone to prepare her endometrium for implantation. For the donor egg IVF cycle at IVFMD, the recipient uses a vaginal form of progesterone and totally avoids the painful intramuscular injections preferred at some other programs.
5. Embryo Transfer for the Recipient
Embryo transfer is routinely performed on the fifth day of culture (counting day 1 as the day after retrieval). By this time, the embryos have hopefully reached the advanced (blastocyst) stage so that one or two of them can be selected for transfer. Unused embryos can be frozen for future use if they meet freezing criteria.
The recipient continues using estrogen and progesterone until the blood pregnancy test is done 10 days after transfer. If pregnant, she will continue this hormone regimen until the 10-11th week of pregnancy when the production of estrogen and progesterone from the placenta would be sufficient to maintain the pregnancy.