Donor eggs - questions and answers
IVF treatment using donor eggs (egg donation) has become one of the most sought after IVF treatments worldwide.
Egg donation and IVF
Egg donation (IVF with donor eggs) treatment involves fertilizing fresh or previously frozen eggs (oocytes) which have been provided by a donor with sperm provided by a person who is known to the patient (such as a partner) or a donor. Once fertilized the resulting embryo is then transferred to the patients uterus completing the process of donor conception.
We have brought together experts in the field of egg donation and donor conception to answer your questions.
IVF with donor eggs
The first pregnancy using donor eggs was documented in Australia in 1983, some five years after the first successful IVF procedure. Since then IVF with donor eggs has been the most sought after procedure for women who can not achieve a pregnancy through IVF with their own eggs and is one of the main reasons why women travel for fertility treatment.
The reasons why egg donation procedures have become so popular with patients who travel for treatment are numerous but include the wider availability (numbers and diversity) of donors, cost, and the possibility of choosing either a known or unknown donor.
Any form of donor conception obviously involves another person or people in the case of double donation treatment and quite understandably this can generate a number of issues, questions and potentially doubts, for the patient.
Egg donation treatments have been developed considerably in the four decades in which they have been practiced. Clinics offer donors who have been carefully selected and are in good physical and psychological shape, free from any genetic abnormalities or sexually transmittable diseases. Donors are young, normally aged below 35 and in the most popular destinations there are usually no or very little waiting lists.
Depending upon the country in which donor conception treatment takes place certain details about the donor are able to be shared with the recipient.
In some countries like the U.K. and Portugal donors are non anonymous meaning that the recipient and eventually the child can obtain details about the donor.
In other countries such as Spain, Greece, Croatia, and the Czech Republic, donors are anonymous. In the latter recipients may well only receive very basic information about the donor such as blood type or hair colour.
Many good clinics however do provide additional tools which enhance the donor matching process without sharing personal information. These include a number of facial recognition or matching platforms which make it easier for patients to choose a donor that resembles them facially.
The egg donation process begins when a donor has been screened to ensure they are in good health and have given their informed consent to donate. She then will receive hormone injections to induce ovulation which will help produce multiple eggs. Once these eggs have matured they are retrieved under sedation. The laboratory then takes over to attempt to fertilise the eggs with a partner’s (or donor) sperm; any resulting embryos are then transferred into the recipients uterus.
Eggs and/or embryos may be frozen to be transferred at a later date or alternatively a fresh transfer cycle can be undertaken by synchronizing the donor and recipients cycles via medication.
No IVF procedure is 100% guaranteed but any which uses eggs (or sperm) from a donor will usually result in a higher success rate which is due to the quality and viability of the donated gamete.
If we consider patients of all ages there is an average donor egg success rate of 50% (resulting in a live birth) although this figure will go up or down depending on a number of factors including the patient’s health, the quality of the donated egg and resulting embryo or the expertise of the treatment provider.
After fertilisation there are a number of stages in the treatment process which can impact the overall success rate. These crucial stages begin with whether the donated egg can develop into a viable embryo, whether it can implant properly and then finally whether it can develop and result in a clinical pregnancy.
Compared to an IVF treatment when a woman provides her own eggs, IVF with donor eggs are on average more successful. This is particularly the case with older patients. Success rates for treatments involving the patients own eggs are obviously affected by different physical and genetic factors and these can be more impactful as we age.
Egg quality will naturally decline over time until a woman experiences menopause; quality will usually worsen after the age of 35. Using the eggs of a younger woman negates the importance of the patient somewhat and drastically improves the chances of success.
It is estimated that at the age of 45 the chances of a woman achieving a live birth from IVF using her own eggs is just 2%. Using a younger donor increases this percentage to the 50% figure and this figure can be increased yet again if multiple cycles are undertaken.
IVF with donor eggs is a tried and tested procedure which has offered hope to women who would have previously been denied the opportunity to become a mother.
It offers higher success rates than IVF using a patient’s own eggs and is an option available in most countries. Our experts are on hand to answer any questions you may have in relation to the treatment.