Though conception is often taken for granted, it is not always an easy thing for every couple to achieve. In fact, thousands of couples every year experience problems with infertility. Sometimes, though, fertility treatments like IUI or IVF just don’t seem to help. If you and your partner are experiencing similar difficulties expanding your family, you may want to consider egg donation. Egg donation is now becoming a very popular and successful alternative for couples who are having difficulties getting pregnant.
What is Egg Donation?
Egg donation is the process by which a woman uses donated eggs in order to conceive a child and carry it to term. Instead of using her biological eggs to conceive a child with her partner, donated eggs are mixed with sperm and fertilized. The resulting embryos are then implanted into the woman’s uterus using IVF treatment techniques. Female egg donation was first introduced to the United States in 1990, and since then has been used in thousands of IVF procedures. In fact, egg donation is now used in more than 11% of all IVF cycles.
Who Can Benefit From Egg Donation?
Egg donation is not a first-line fertility treatment, and thus it is not recommended for every couple. However, you may find that you are suited to egg donation if you are experiencing:
- anovulation or irregular ovulation
- premature ovarian failure (POF)
- fallopian tube damage
You may also be a suitable candidate if you have experienced repeated IVF failures or if you respond poorly to infertility drugs, such as Clomid.
What Kind of Egg Donors Are There?
There are two main types of egg donors:
- Known Donors: Known egg donors are donors that you know on a personal level. They are often relatives or friends of a couple, or are women who have been contacted privately by the infertile couple.
- Anonymous Donors: Anonymous donors are those who donate eggs without revealing their identity or contact information. These donors usually give their eggs to an egg donation program or agency, which then distributes the eggs to infertile couples. If you choose an anonymous donor you will be apprised of some information, including education level, ethnic background, and personal attributes.
How is Egg Donation Performed?
Egg donation can be a very complicated procedure, depending upon the type of donor you choose to use. Anonymous donors typically provide eggs to agencies, which you can then purchase. These eggs are normally cryopreserved, and can be used relatively quickly once purchased. If you use a known donor though, you must first wait for the eggs to be removed. This can be quite time consuming and physically stressful for the egg donor. Usually, the known donor will receive fertility medications to stimulate ovulation. Once she ovulates, multiple eggs will be removed from her ovaries through a procedure known as transvaginal aspiration.
Once the donor eggs have been received, your reproductive endocrinologist will prepare you for the IVF procedure. You will be given different hormone injections in order to thicken your uterine lining for implantation. The donor eggs will then be fertilized with a sample of your partner’s sperm. Once the eggs have been fertilized, they will be cultured for three days. The resulting embryos are then implanted into your uterus through IVF. Typically, two to three embryos are transplanted.
Costs of Egg Donation
Depending upon the country in which you reside, the costs of egg donation can vary widely. In the United States, where egg donors can be compensated for their donation, egg donation procedures are quite expensive. Donated eggs can cost as much as $5,000 and additional costs for medications and IVF treatment can add up to more than $15,000.
Advantages of Using Egg Donation
Egg donation is often extremely popular because it allows a couple to experience the joys of pregnancy. After the embryo has been implanted into your uterus, you have the chance to carry the fetus to term. You will also get to experience labor and delivery. Many couples choose egg donation because it still allows for their child to be partially related to them.
Disadvantages of Using Egg Donation
There are some disadvantages associated with egg donation. This procedure is time consuming, as it involves choosing an appropriate donor and preparing the woman for the IVF procedure. It is also one of the more costly types of infertility treatments. Additionally, many parents feel uncomfortable choosing egg donation since it means that their child will not be fully related to them. Because you are using donated eggs, the child will not be biologically related to the mother.
Legal Issues of Egg Donation
Depending upon where you live, there are different laws governing egg donation. Few countries allow for egg donors to be paid for their services. Most countries require all that egg donations take place for altruistic purposes. However, in the United States egg donors can be paid for each egg that they donate. Depending upon the fertility history of the donor, compensation fees can run as high as $5,000.
Many couples are reluctant to pursue egg donation for fear of complicating the issue of parental rights. However, when you use an egg donor, either known or anonymous, they have no legal parental rights over any resulting children.
Egg donation success rates are fairly high. This is because most egg donors are young women with a good history of fertility. Pregnancy rates typically run as high as 50%. However, IVF also increases your chances of multiple pregnancy: more than 25% of pregnancies resulting from donor eggs are twins or higher-order multiples.