Donor Eggs


The use of donor eggs is an effective infertility treatment for women who cannot achieve pregnancy with their own eggs. It allows a woman to use another woman’s eggs (donor) to experience the joy of conceiving a child.


Donor eggs are usually indicated for woman with premature ovarian failure, a condition in which menopause occurs before the age of 40 years. It can also be recommended for women who have a low number of poor quality eggs, had previously failed multiple in vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts or has a risk of transmitting genetic diseases to her child.


The first step for donor egg treatment involves finding and choosing a donor. Once a donor is found, whether the donor is known to the recipient or is anonymous, a thorough screening is of utmost importance. Screening of the potential egg donor includes a thorough physical examination, review of medical history, and background and history of genetic disease or birth defects. A social and psychological evaluation along with testing for sexually transmitted diseases is also performed.

Once an ideal donor is selected, the menstrual cycles of both the donor and recipient are synchronized with hormonal medications. Being on the same cycle provides the best chance for the recipient's uterine lining (endometrium) to be prepared to support the embryo.


The donor receives treatment to stimulate the ovaries to release more than one mature egg for donation. The eggs are retrieved from the donor after two days. On the same day, the male partner’s semen is collected as well. The egg and sperm are fertilized through in vitro fertilization in the laboratory. The fertilized eggs or embryos can be used immediately after two to five days of the initial retrieval or frozen for future use. The embryos are transferred into the recipient’s uterus for implantation. After 10 days of embryo transfer, the recipient is tested for pregnancy with a blood test. Fresh embryos have a higher chance of pregnancy than frozen embryos. The recipient will continue with hormonal medication for about 10 weeks into pregnancy, until the placenta becomes self-sufficient to provide the hormones on its own.

Risks and Complications

Egg donation treatment may involve certain risks and complications which include multiple pregnancies, medications side effects such as depression, headaches, hot flashes and sleeplessness. Ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome is a rare complication that involves swelling and pain of the ovaries. Other symptoms that require immediate medical attention include shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and pain in the abdomen.

Despite these drawbacks, egg donation has a success rate of up to 48%. The success rate depends upon many factors which include the egg retrieval process used, the age of the eggs used, the partners’ semen quality as well as the overall health of the women.

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