What Is Egg Donation?
Egg Donation IVF is a highly successful treatment widely used for patients who no longer have high-quality eggs within their ovaries.
Probability of Success
Egg Donation is the most effective fertility treatment available. The likelihood of a successful outcome depends primarily on the fertility potential of the egg donor, and you should expect over 50% probability of a successful outcome with a highly fertile egg donor.
We performed our first Egg Donation treatment in 1988. Since that time, Donor Egg IVF has become a mainstream treatment for infertility. Over the years, we have streamlined and simplified the process of Donor Egg IVF to minimize interference with your egg donor's lifestyle.
Donor Egg IVF Offspring
Children conceived with the help of Donor Egg IVF are genetically linked to the male partner and the egg donor, but the female partner is the one who becomes pregnant, nourishes the baby throughout the pregnancy, and experiences childbirth.
The baby would get one set of genes from the dad and another from an egg donor, but you, the mom carrying the pregnancy, would make that baby your very own. The new science of epigenetics describes how our environment modifies the gene expressions and possibly the genes themselves.
The epigenetic marks transmitted from the mother are a fine-tuned mechanism to control gene activation during the complex process of early embryogenesis. And this maternal influence continues throughout the pregnancy. You will imprint yourself onto the baby! By the time your son or daughter is born, that baby will be biologically yours.
Selecting an Egg Donor
Your egg donor can be someone blood-related to you to preserve the genetic link, or you could choose a donor from one of the many egg donor agencies. Most (but not all) Donor Egg IVF treatments are anonymous.
Once your Donor Egg IVF treatment at Bay IVF is completed (approximately 6-8 weeks into your pregnancy), the pregnancy becomes indistinguishable from conception through intercourse, and your obstetrical care should be no different than if you conceived without any treatment.
Once you select your egg donor, she will become a patient at our Clinic and will be medically and genetically screened by us.
Egg Donation Procedure
Donor Egg IVF is a two-stage treatment. The first phase consists of the development and cryopreservation (vitrification) of embryos.
- Ovarian Stimulation
- Egg Retrieval Procedure
- Fertilization of eggs
- Culture of embryos
- Cryopreservation (vitrification) of embryos
- Embryo storage
The second stage consists of the Frozen Embryo Transfer cycle.
Development and Storage of Embryos
- Ovarian Stimulation
There are several different forms of ovarian stimulation protocols, each with many modifications. Your egg donor's treatment is always individualized to maximize the probability of a successful outcome. The selection of an optimal protocol is based on your donor's reproductive history and her pre-treatment evaluation. Below are three examples of egg donation treatment protocols used at Bay IVF. Your donor's individualized protocol may take less or more time to complete.
Follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or a combination of FSH/luteinizing hormone (LH) hormones will stimulate the production of multiple eggs in the donor's ovaries. They are given once a day or once every other day subcutaneously with tiny needles for approximately ten days.
During this time, your donor's progress is monitored by estradiol (estrogen, E2) and progesterone blood levels and ultrasound examinations.
Ovarian stimulation should result in the development of several eggs in each ovary. The ultrasound image below shows a stimulated ovary. Each of the several follicles (dark circles) contains a microscopic egg.
- Egg Retrieval Procedure
The egg retrieval procedure is performed at our Center. The procedure only takes a few minutes, and we use very comfortable conscious sedation for analgesia.
Since 1985, we have done many thousands of egg retrievals and are very experienced in retrieving eggs from the ovaries.
Under ultrasound guidance, the tip of a thin needle is passed through the top of the vagina into the cul-de-sac (space behind the uterus). The ovaries are located near the bottom of the cul-de-sac allowing the tip of the aspirating needle to enter the ovarian follicles and aspirate the follicular fluid from them. The fluid is examined under a microscope to identify the eggs.
The egg retrieval procedure is the last step in the donor’s participation. She will have her normal menstrual period within two weeks of the egg retrieval.
- Fertilization of Eggs
On average, twelve to sixteen eggs are aspirated during the donor egg retrieval procedure. The eggs are identified under the microscope and placed in petri dishes filled with culture medium. The composition of the medium resembles the fluid secreted by the Fallopian tubes. This allows the eggs and embryos (fertilized eggs) to develop in our laboratory environment at the same rate as inside the Fallopian tubes.
The male partner collects a semen specimen by masturbation on the day of egg retrieval. The highest quality sperm are extracted from the semen and combined with the eggs six hours after the egg retrieval. This process of in vitro fertilization takes place over several hours during the evening after the egg retrieval.
If the male partner has never caused pregnancy, or if your test results indicate a possibility of significant male infertility, Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection (ICSI) is performed. In ICSI, a single sperm is inserted into an egg. This can significantly increase the probability of normal fertilization for selected patients.
- Culture of Embryos
Evidence of fertilization can be seen the next day, 16 hours after insemination. The fertilized eggs are transferred into a growth medium and continue to be cultured in our laboratory.
A normally fertilized egg (zygote) will show two pronuclei representing the genetic material from the egg and sperm.
The following day, embryos should divide into 4 cells, the day after into 8 cells.
This picture shows a morphologically exquisite, day three, 8-cell embryo. At this stage, human embryos are still microscopic and invisible to the naked eye.
By the fifth to seventh day after the insemination, embryos should reach the blastocyst stage (80 or more cells).
This picture shows an advanced stage of blastocyst development. Notice the central fluid-filled cavity. The cells within the blastocyst have already differentiated into the inner cell mass (at seven o’clock) that will give rise to the fetus and the trophectoderm cells that will form the future placenta.
- Cryopreservation of Embryos
Embryos that develop normally are cryopreserved (vitrified). Preparation for the freezing process involves removing water from within the embryos and replacing it with a cryoprotective substance to prevent ice crystal formation during vitrification and subsequent thawing. The embryos are then flash cooled to −196 °C (−321 °F). Such rapid freezing (vitrification) prevents damaging water crystal formation.
- Embryo Storage
Following the vitrification process, the embryos are transferred to a liquid nitrogen storage chamber in our Center. Theoretically, there is no limit on the length of storage, but conceiving past the age of 40 may result in high-risk pregnancy.
Once you decide to conceive with your cryopreserved embryos, you will have one or two embryos thawed and transferred into your uterus. A large majority of the embryos will survive the vitrification and thawing process. The implantation rate of the thawed embryos should be the same as the "fresh" embryo implantation rate.
If you are successful, your pregnancy becomes indistinguishable from conception through intercourse, and your obstetrical care should be no different than if you conceived without any treatment.
Please use the following links for financial information about Egg Donation and to schedule a consultation.
With Dr. Polansky
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