One of the main reasons for not getting pregnant is often the poor quality of the woman’s eggs. In these cases, an IVF cycle with eggs from a young donor is the best option.
IVF with egg donor is the ideal in vitro fertilization treatment for single women, lesbian couples or women with a male partner but whose eggs do not function properly.
Why you might need egg donation
There are different kinds of patients who might need this type of treatment. Generally, patients who get recommended IVF with egg donors are divided into two groups. Those who are not menstruating, and those who are.
Those who are not menstruating can be experiencing, for example, menopause, premature ovarian failure, menopause due to chemotherapy or surgery. For this group, because there is an absence of eggs available, IVF with an egg donor is the only option.
For women who are still menstruating IVF with egg donor is usually recommended due to the age of the patient. Women are born with a specific ovarian reserve, which decreases with age in terms of quantity, but also egg quality. So far, science allows us to check on the number of eggs a woman has available, but not their quality.
What we do know is that after 35-37 both egg quantity and quality start to decrease. And after 40, it’s not only harder to become pregnant, but the risk of miscarriage increases, as well as the likelihood of chromosomal problems.
Most patients who start the process of egg donation do so because of age. But this method is also advised to patients who have tried IVF before unsuccessfully or who have certain genetic problems.
How are the eggs retrieved?
Each potential donor undergoes a series of health tests and family history checks, but also psychological tests to assess their viability as donors. If approved, the donor is matched with a patient considering their physical characteristics, based on a questionnaire and photographs.
You also have the option to have genetic matching done, meaning you check the genetic material of the egg donor and the male counterpart, in order to get a match with decreased risk of genetic diseases.
After matching a donor with a recipient, the clinic proceeds with the process of stimulating the donor, for an average of 9 to 10 days, retrieving the eggs and fertilizing them with a previously given sperm sample. After 5 to 6 days, when the stage of blastocyst is achieved, the embryo is usually frozen, in order to later be transferred.
The egg retrieval process can also be synchronized with the couple, meaning the couple gives the sperm sample just before the egg retrieval and prepares to receive the embryo a few days after. The biggest handicap of the synchronized process is that one may start the endometrium preparation and end up with no viable embryo for implantation.
How to prepare for egg donation
In order to receive the embryo created by the clinic, the woman needs to prepare her endometrium lining. This can be achieved in two ways, by respecting the natural cycle, which can be modified, or through a medicated cycle.
During the natural cycle, the estrogen created by your follicles prepares the endometrium lining, which is matured by the progesterone released during ovulation and readies it for embryo implantation. The natural modified cycle respects the natural cycle, but ovulation is triggered by injection, so the body believes the embryo implanted was generated by the egg released.
The medicated cycle consists in suppressing ovarian function and endometrium growth is done externally by taking estrogen. This type of preparation allows more flexibility and is recommended for patients who have treatment abroad. It is also the only method available for women who are not menstruating.
Depending on the programme you select, all embryos created in the process will be frozen and can be used for another implantation.