Egg donation is the process by which a woman provides one or several (usually 10-15) eggs (ova, oocytes) for purposes of assisted reproduction or biomedical research. For assisted reproduction purposes, egg donation involves the process of in vitro fertilization as the eggs are fertilized in the laboratory. Egg donation is part of the process of third party reproduction as part of ART.
A need for egg donation may arise for a number of reasons. Infertile couples may resort to acquiring eggs through egg donation when the female partner cannot have genetic children because she may not have eggs that can generate a viable pregnancy. This situation is often, but not always based on advanced reproductive age. Early onset of menopause which can occur in women as early as their 30’s can require a woman to use donor eggs to grow her family. Some women are born without ovaries or other reproductive organs. Sometimes a woman’s reproductive organs have been damaged due to disease or circumstances required her to have them surgically removed. Another indication would be a genetic disorder on part of the woman that can be circumvented by using eggs from another person. Many women have none of these issues but continue to be unsuccessful using their own eggs.
Congenital absence of eggs
- Turner syndrome
- Gonadal dysgenesis
- Diseases of X-Sex linkage
- Repetitive fertilization or pregnancy failure
- Ovaries in access
Acquired reduced egg quantity/quality
- Premature menopause
- Radiation therapy
- Advanced maternal age
- Compromised ovarian reserve
Egg donors are first recruited, screened, and give consent prior to participation in the IVF process. Once the egg donor is recruited, she undergoes IVF stimulation therapy, followed by the egg retrieval procedure. After retrieval, the ova are fertilized by the sperm of the male partner (or sperm donor) in the laboratory, and, after several days, the best resulting embryo(s) is/are placed in the uterus of the recipient, whose uterine lining has been appropriately prepared for embryo transfer beforehand. The recipient is usually, but not always, the person who requested the service and they will carry and deliver the baby and keep it.
Nationwide, egg donor cycles have a success rate of upwards of 60%. When a “fresh cycle” is followed by a “frozen cycle”, the success rate with donor eggs goes up to approximately 80%. With egg donation, women who are past their reproductive years or menopause can become pregnant.
Psychological and social issues
Common reasons to donate are to help childless couples, and, for some, the monetary compensation. Reluctance to donate may be caused by a sense of ownership and responsibility for the well-being of the offspring.
Most psychological and social issues of egg donation are likely comparable to those of sperm donation.