What is Donor Egg IVF?
Donor Egg IVF uses the eggs from a different female rather than the one into whose uterus the eggs are expected to be transferred – as is the case in a normal IVF cycle. The donor eggs are used for fertilization and implanted into the recipient’s uterus. The donor eggs are usually taken from a relatively younger and healthier donor, which increases the chances of conception and pregnancy.
Why use Donor Eggs?
Using benefits women who cannot use their own eggs for various reasons, including ovarian failure, avoiding congenital anomalies in the foetus, or advanced age. It is advisable to opt for an egg donation if the patient has had repetitive IVF failures in the past and is well past the age of 35. This is also an excellent method of conception and pregnancy for cancer survivors who may not have had the chance to preserve their eggs before treatment.
Who are the Egg Donors?
Egg donors are someone the clinic will help you find. A series of blood tests will have to be taken to ascertain donor suitability. Also, there are various guidelines and legal guidelines that ought to be followed to choose the egg donor.
How do you choose the Egg Donor?
Egg donors undergo psychological and medical screening, including a thorough medical history, physical exam, and ovarian reserve assessment to determine if she is likely to be a good donor candidate. Egg donors are healthy young women, usually between ages 23 and 35. Before starting the procedure, most donors will need to take medication that stops their normal menstrual cycle. The donor will then take a series of fertility drugs that stimulate the ovaries to produce several eggs at once.
The doctor will perform a transvaginal ovarian aspiration to remove the eggs from the donor’s ovaries. They will insert an ultrasound probe into the vagina and use a needle to remove each follicle’s egg.
Pre-Donor Egg IVF Considerations
It is important to consider various factors before zeroing in on your egg donor. Firstly of course, blood work needs to be looked at for suitability. Also, there will be a semen analysis and comprehensive compatibility tests before finalizing on the donor.
The Donor Egg IVF Process
Egg donation is a process in which a fertile woman donates an egg, or oocyte, to another woman to help her conceive. The procedure typically involves a doctor removing an egg or eggs from the donor, fertilizing them in a laboratory, and then transferring the resulting embryos into the recipient’s uterus. Doctors do this using an implantation procedure, such as in vitro fertilization. There are two types of IVF process using donor eggs:
Fresh Eggs & Fresh Transfer
- The Mock Cycle
A mock cycle where you will take oestrogen pills for approximately 10 days to thicken your lining will be done. Your lining will be checked at the beginning and after 10 days of oestrogen intake. This is done to properly understand the effects of oestrogen on your lining and ensure that your lining will be thickened and fully developed when the embryos are ready for transfer.
- Synching Cycles
Here, your cycle and donor’s cycle must be brought in sync once we understand how your lining responds to medications during the mock cycle. After both your cycles are synced using medication, you will start preparing for embryo transfer while your donor will start preparing for egg retrieval
- Lining Development
Beginning on day 2,3, or 4 of the cycle, you will start a series of medications, first oestrogen, then progesterone for developing your lining.
- Egg Retrieval from Donor and Fertilization
The egg will be retrieved from the donor and fertilized in the laboratory using your partner’s sperm or a sperm donor and, post-fertilization, grown in the lab for 3-5 days.
- Embryo Transfer
During embryo transfer, the embryo(s) are loaded into the catheter’s tip along with a minimal amount of transfer medium. The catheter is gently passed through the cervical canal into the uterus using an abdominal ultrasound to provide visual guidance during the transfer. The embryos are gently expelled near the top of the uterus. The catheter will be checked under the microscope by an embryologist to ensure that the embryo(s) left the catheter.
Fresh/Frozen Eggs & Frozen Transfer
- Fertilization & Development
Since it’s a frozen embryo transfer, the donor and recipient cycles need not be synced. This can be done using either fresh egg retrieval from the recipient or can be done using frozen eggs that have been retrieved earlier and frozen and kept in storage. If doing a frozen egg cycle, the eggs will be thawed and then fertilized using your partner’s or donor sperm. Post fertilization, the embryo will be grown in the laboratory for 3-5 days and then frozen.
- Embryo Freezing
The embryos will be frozen using a flash-freezing vitrification process which ensures the highest quality of freeze, better survival during thawing and better implantation rates resulting in a live birth.
- Lining Development & Embryo Transfer
Post the onset of the menstrual cycle, a course of medication will be given to thicken the uterine lining and prepare it for embryo transfer. If the recipient does not have a regular menstrual cycle, a number of medications will be given to suppress their hormones before beginning the standard medication for thickening the lining. Once the lining is well developed as assessed by transvaginal ultrasound, the recipient will be asked to prepare for the embryo transfer procedure.
Embryo transfer is a quick process and will be completed within 15 minutes. During embryo transfer, the embryo(s) are loaded into the tip of the catheter along with a very small amount of transfer medium and the catheter is gently passed through the cervical canal into the uterus using an abdominal ultrasound to provide visual guidance during the transfer. The embryos are gently expelled near the top of the uterus. The catheter will be checked under the microscope by an embryologist to ensure that the embryo(s) indeed left the catheter.