Egg donation is one of the most critical elements of assisted reproductive technology, also known as ART. It is the process by which a fertile woman donates an egg or oocyte to another woman to enable her to conceive. The process generally involves the removal of an egg or eggs from the donor by a specialist. Their subsequent fertilization follows in the laboratory, followed by transplantation of the resultant embryo to the recipient’s uterus.
Who Is Egg Donation For?
In the medical field, egg donation is not an uncommon sight. Almost all fertility clinics are known to provide facilities for egg donation. Any woman who is deemed to be medically fit and is not a carrier of any harmful genetic mutation can choose to become a donor. However, it is advised that first-time donors must be between the ages of 21 and 28.
There may be several reasons why a couple that wants to conceive may turn to egg donation. Some of these reasons are as follows:
- Poor quality of eggs- Sometimes, the eggs produced by a woman may be of poor quality, or there may be no production of eggs as well. In such cases, if the woman or the couple still wants to conceive a biological child using the male’s sperm, then they can turn to egg donation.
- Aging- The quality of a woman’s egg decreases as she ages, and the production of eggs drastically declines after the age of 37. Thus, couples who want to conceive during their mid-thirties or early forties generally turn to egg donation.
- Lack of ovaries- Many women are born with an intact uterus but with no ovaries or those who get their ovaries removed because of medical reasons can also use this procedure for conceiving.
- Genetic mutations- Sometimes, individuals are born with genetic mutations that can be passed on to biological children. In such a case, they use egg donation to conceive a baby without risking its health.
- Same-sex couples- Egg donation is a good way for gay couples or single fathers to have a biological child.
Egg Donation Procedure
Individuals planning to opt for egg donation will have to go through the following series of steps-
- Filling out an application- First, individuals interested in egg donation will have to fill out an application. In the application, they are required to provide details regarding their family history, medical background, and other related information.
- Medical evaluation- After filling out the application, individuals will be required to go through a medical screening. This would include physical examinations like blood tests and ultrasounds. This is done to know if any physical determinants may lead to a complication in the process.
- Orientation and counseling- After the medical examination, individuals interested in donating their eggs would be asked to attend an orientation where their medical reports and family history would be checked. Next, the donor would also have to go through counseling to determine if she is mentally ready to donate eggs.
- Approval- After receiving the green signal, the donor’s information will finally be entered into the database, which can be viewed by couples who are looking for a donor. Most of the time, donors do not receive a match immediately, but once they do, the egg donation process begins.
IVF, or in vitro fertilization, is the process where the male sperm and the female egg are fertilized together in a test tube. The resultant embryo is then transplanted into the female uterus in other to help the person conceive. However, unlike IVF, egg donation is the process where a female donates her eggs to another woman who cannot conceive for various reasons.
Most fertility clinics do not allow an individual to donate eggs more than six times. This is done to protect the person from possible health risks.
On average, the risks involved in the process of egg donation are relatively low. The medications received by a donor are the same as the ones received by women who try to fertilize their eggs through IVF. Although serious problems are uncommon, some general side effects of the process include- bleeding during the insertion of the needle, nausea, slight damage to the bladder, or rapid weight gain or loss.
No, egg donation does not affect one’s fertility, and hence it does not reduce an individual’s chance of getting pregnant. If someone faces problems getting pregnant after donating an egg, then chances are that their partner may be suffering from infertility.
Most of the time, clinics prefer it when the donor is between the ages of 21 and 31. Apart from that, the donor should also have both of her ovaries and must be physically and psychologically healthy. Her BMI should be between 19 and 29. She should not be a carrier of inheritable genetic disorders and should have a regular menstrual cycle.