Introduction to Egg Donation
Egg donation was started in 1984 as an alternative to using a woman’s own eggs. Out of respect for a couple’s/individual’s privacy, egg donation has not received the attention it deserves as the most effective way to overcome age-related infertility. Over the last ten years, FSMG and our egg donors have helped hundreds of couples achieve their dreams.
Women who proceed with egg donation are no longer able to use their own eggs due to:
- loss of ovaries or ovarian function due to illness or injury
- carriers of a genetic abnormality
In the egg donation process, eggs are retrieved from a donor’s ovaries, fertilized in the laboratory with the sperm of the recipient’s partner or donor sperm, and then the resulting embryo(s) are transferred into the recipient’s prepared uterus. Any embryos remaining after transfer can be cryopreserved for use in the future.
The Egg Donation Process
While the process may seem overwhelming, the Third Party team at FSMG will walk you through each step. We start by performing a complete review of your medical records and a careful assessment to individualize your treatment. While all tests performed are thorough and efficient, we also make sure not to repeat any tests previously done by other physicians, as long as they have been done appropriately and within a certain time frame. The other components include:
- Identifying a donor candidate (2 to 12 weeks), either through FSMG’s pool of egg donors or via an egg donation agency
- Additional donor testing (1-4 weeks), if indicated
- Donor stimulation cycle (2 weeks)
We offer both known and anonymous egg donation.
A known egg donor is usually a close friend or family member who is willing to donote their eggs. If you elect to use a known donor, our physicians will screen your donor to ensure that they are a good candidate for egg donation.
If you choose to use an anonymous egg donor, you may select a donor through an egg donor agency or use one of our in-house donors. We recruit a diverse group of donors from all ethnic backgrounds. Donor candidates are typically between 19 and 28 years old. They undergo extensive physical, genetic and psychological screening before they are accepted into the program. The screening process carefully follows guidelines that have been set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
If you choose an anonymous donor, you will be provided with a detailed medical history of both the donor and her family, along with a thorough description of her physical characteristics. You will also have access to her genetic counseling information. Throughout the process, confidentiality and anonymity will be maintained—donors and recipients will not meet.
The following is a brief outline of the donor egg process:
- Hormones are administered to the donor to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple follicles (fluid-filled sacs that contain the eggs).
- Your donor will have multiple ultrasounds and estrogen levels tested to monitor the growth of the follicles. Monitoring aids in adjusting medication doses and determining the timing of the egg retrieval.
- Egg(s) are obtained from the ovary just prior to the expected time of ovulation. A small needle is passed through the vagina into the ovaryunder ultrasound guidance. This technique is performed on an outpatient basis while the donor is under intravenous sedation and analgesia. The eggs are aspirated from the ovaries and passed off the embryology team.
- Your partner will provide a sperm specimen (or you may use donor sperm) the day of your egg donor’s retrieval. It is prepared by the laboratory for the fertilization process.
- Fertilization of the egg by the sperm through Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI), a procedure in which a single sperm is injected directly into an egg for fertilization.
- Embryos are typically cultured in the lab until the 5th or 6th day of development. On Day 5/6, embryos can be transferred into your (or your gestational carrier’s) uterus, frozen or biopsied and frozen to allow for genetic testing and later transfer. Any additional good quality embryos that are not transferred can be frozen for future use.
If immediate transfer is planned, while the donor is completing her stimulation cycle, you or your gestational carrier will begin the process of preparing the uterus for the embryo transfer. If the embryos are to be biopsied and genetically tested, the transfer will be delayed by a few weeks.
A combination of estrogen and progesterone will be prescribed to ensure that the uterus is ready for implantation of the embryo. Estrogen is administered by mouth or by injection. At the time your egg donor is to undergo egg retrieval, you will start a treatment of progesterone to begin preparing the lining of your uterus for implantation of the embryo. This is usually given as a combination of intramuscular injection and a vaginal suppository/gel. These medications are continued until the 10th week of pregnancy, at which time the placenta has taken over production of all necessary hormones.
The staff of FSMG are very proud of our Third Party Reproduction program. We are one of the few local fertility centers with its own on-site egg donor program. Since 2003, with the advances in blastocyst culture and pre-implantation genetic screening, Dr. Arlene Morales and Dr. Wendy Shelly have delivered outcomes that are some of the best in the country.
Types of Egg Donor Cycles
Full AED Cycle: Intended parent(s) choose an anonymous egg donor from FSMG’s donor database, or an outside egg donor agency. All of the eggs retrieved from that donor’s cycle go to the intended parent(s). The eggs are fertilized with the partner’s (or donor) sperm to create embryos.
Split AED Cycle: Intended parent(s) choose an anonymous egg donor from FSMG’s egg donor database for a split cycle. Once two patients/couples have chosen that donor for a split cycle, the donor proceeds with the cycle. The eggs are divided between the two patients/couples.
Shared Success Cycle: Similar to a full cycle, intended parent(s) choose an egg donor from FSMG’s donor database. All of the eggs from the donor’s cycle will go to the patient/couple. The eggs will then be inseminated with the partner’s/donor’s sperm to create embryos. In a Shared Success cycle, these embryos are biopsied and sent for chromosomal testing (PGS). The patient/couple will be refunded if there is no live birth.
Frozen Egg Cohort: Intended parent(s) may also purchase a cohort of frozen donor eggs (typcially 6-8 eggs in each cohort). These eggs are thawed and inseminated with the partner’s (or donor) sperm to create embryos.
Patients may choose a cohort from FSMG’s frozen egg bank or an outside egg bank.
Outside Egg Banks
FSMG’s Egg Donor Program
FSMG’s in-house egg donor program offers a wide variety of quality donors. All of the women in our program have met FSMG’s demanding donor standards. Although we receive hundreds of applications every month, we accept an average of only 3 new donors per month. Before donors are accepted into the program, they undergo an extensive screen of personal and family medical history, a full consultation with one of our physicians, ovarian reserve testing and a physical exam. Once a donor has been selected by a couple, or if she has cycled before, additional screening is performed. It is important for the Intended Parents to acknowledge that the majority of this testing is completed once the donor is chosen for a cycle, unless the donor has already participated in a donor cycle.
- Screening for sexually transmitted diseases
- Urine drug testing
- Psychological evaluation
- Genetic Counseling
- Genetic testing, including
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Hb Beta Chain-Related
- Hemoglobinopathy (includes Betathalasemia and Sickle Cell)
- Fragile X
- Bloom Syndrome
- Familial Dysautonomia
- Fanconi Anemia Type C
- Hexosaminidase A Deficiancy (including Tay-Sachs)
- Mucolipidosis IV
- Niemann-Pick Disease SMBPD1- Associated
- Glycogen Storage Disease Type 1a
- Maple Syrup Urine Type 1B
- NEB-related Nemaline Myopathy
- Usher Syndrome Type 1F, Type 3
The use of IVF with donor eggs overcomes most of the natural barriers to conception and live birth—barriers such as problems with ovulation, fertilization and egg quality (including chromosomal abnormalities). See our website Fertility In Your 30s for more information.
Browse Our Anonymous Egg Donor Database
Potential Egg Donors
Interested in becoming an Egg Donor with FSMG? Email Marianne at Donor@ivfspecialists.com for application information