Egg donation is a procedure by which the eggs provided by a woman can be fertilized in a laboratory using in vitro fertilization (IVF) and then transferred into the uterus of a second woman who cannot achieve pregnancy.
Egg donation may be required when:
- Ovaries cannot produce eggs due to cancer treatment, premature menopause (see Medical Genetics)
- Ovaries have been removed
- Poor quality eggs or poor quality embryos
- Eggs carry a genetic heritable disease
The donor is often a woman able to conceive who wishes to share that joy with a friend or a relative who cannot otherwise have a baby.
The process begins by synchronizing the menstrual cycle of the egg donor and the recipient. Most donors undergo ovarian stimulation (see OI) to be able to donate the maximum number of eggs. When the donor reaches the point of ovulation, the recipient begins taking medications such as estrogen and progesterone to prepare the lining of her uterus.
Under sedation, the eggs are then retrieved from the donor and the mature eggs are fertilized with the sperm of the recipient’s partner, in the laboratory (see IVF).
After a few days, the best embryos are chosen and transferred into the recipient’s uterus and the remaining embryos may be frozen for possible later attempts.
Potential egg donors require:
- Detailed medical history
- A physical examination
- Screening for infectious and sexually transmitted diseases
- Blood work and ultrasound for evaluation of their suitability as egg donors
- Psychological evaluation to exclude psychological disorders
- Counselling to address the emotional impact of egg donation
Donors can be a friend or relative of the recipient, but must not be related by blood to the recipient’s partner.
Canada law prohibits the commercialization of egg donation including the payment of donor, the purchase of eggs in exchange for property or services and the advertisement of these services.
The success rate of egg donation can vary significantly since more than two people are involved and depends on several factors, including the egg provider’s age, the quality of the male partner’s sperm and the coexistence of other fertility problems.
For more information on The Fertility Clinic protocols, please take a look at our “Protocols and Procedures” in the “Patient Information” section.