Using an Egg Donor 

Using an egg donor overview

  • Egg donation makes getting pregnant possible for women who might otherwise struggle to conceive using their own eggs.
  • In general, the success rate of in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs is anywhere from 50-80 percent.
  • Donors will follow the same initial steps of egg retrieval for IVF; donated eggs are then combined with the male partner’s sperm to create an embryo, which is then transferred to the intended mother’s uterus.
  • Egg donation carries the same risks as IVF and embryo transfer.

What is egg donation?

For egg donation, one woman provides eggs to a second woman (the infertility patient) so she can experience pregnancy and deliver a child.

Why consider egg donation?

Egg donation makes getting pregnant possible for women who might otherwise struggle to conceive using their own eggs. Women with the following conditions or situations are potential candidates for donor eggs:

  • Early menopause or premature ovarian failure
  • Poor egg quality or low ovarian reserve
  • History of inherited genetic disease
  • Over the age of 40
  • History of recurrent pregnancy loss (miscarriage)

Egg donation offers couples the ability to have a baby that is genetically related to the male partner.

Since donor eggs come from young, fertile women, success rates are higher than with regular IVF in women age 40 or older.

How egg donation works

Loma Linda University Center for Fertility & IVF has a well-established egg donor program. There are two ways to select a donor. A donor can be an acquaintance, family member or friend. Alternatively, a couple can opt for an anonymous egg donor.

The most successful egg donors are healthy women under the age of 32 who have had a child on their own, do not have a medical history of infertility and have donated eggs that lead to a successful live birth. Donors must complete a thorough medical, psychological and genetic screening before they are considered.

Additionally, recipients will undergo psychological counseling so that they may fully consider the ethical and moral challenges involved with this fertility treatment.

In either case, a donor will follow the initial steps of IVF in order to donate her eggs. The male partner’s sperm is then combined with donor eggs using IVF to create an embryo.

The recipient’s and donor’s cycles are usually synchronized to help the uterus prepare for the embryo transfer.

If an egg donor recipient chooses to first freeze the embryos through cryopreservation, the eggs are collected, fertilized and frozen, and will be thawed when she is ready for the transfer.

Fertility success with donor eggs

Success with donated eggs depends on many factors including age, cervical function, hormonal balance and other factors. A doctor will be able to determine a woman’s likelihood for success with donated eggs after fertility testing.

In general, the success rate of IVF with donor eggs is anywhere from 50-80 percent, which is a higher success rate than typical IVF.

Risks of using an egg donor

Egg donation carries the same risks as embryo transfer and IVF. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine reports that serious complications from IVF procedures or medications are rare.

There is also a theoretical risk of contracting an infectious disease since egg donation involves transferring another person’s tissue (the donated egg). However, there are no documented infectious diseases transmitted via egg donation to date.

Implanting more than one embryo may result in a multiples pregnancy. Multiple birth pregnancies involve an increased risk of diabetes during pregnancy, birth defects and/or increased blood pressure during pregnancy. LLU Center for Fertility usually recommends a single embryo transfer to limit risk of a multiples pregnancy.

Fertility drug side effects may also occur. Side effects of medications can include soreness at the injection site, mood alterations, gastrointestinal upset, headache and allergic reactions.