Egg donation is most commonly used when the patient is unable to produce her own eggs. This type of infertility is often associated with older maternal age, when the ovary's store of follicles is beginning to run out. The tell-tale signs are irregular - and even absent - periods, which are often a prelude to the menopause. In normally 'fertile' women this can happen in their late 30s and early 40s, but there are also unfortunate younger women who are found to have a 'premature' menopause. This can happen in women as young as 20 or 30. If a couple cannot be helped through procedures such as in vitro fertilization, they may want to consider using donor eggs. Donor eggs and sometimes donor embryos allow an infertile woman to carry a child and give birth. You might be a candidate for donor eggs if you have any of these conditions:
Premature ovarian failure, a condition in which menopause has started much earlier than usual, typically before age 40.Diminished ovarian reserve, meaning that the eggs that you have are of low quality; this can often be caused by age, because fertility drops off steeply after 40.
Genetically transmitted diseases that could be passed on to your child. A previous history of failure with IVF, especially when your doctor thinks that the quality of your eggs may be the problem. The use of donor eggs is becoming more common, especially among women over 40.
Most egg donation is anonymous, but some couples prefer to know their egg donor and take legal steps to contract for the donation of the eggs. If the donor knows the couple, the donor may wish to receive updates once the child is born or may even request visits. An egg donor contract that explicitly spells out the terms of any future relationship should always be used, even when the donor is a close friend or relative.
The procedure is just like that of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Your partner's sperm or a donor's sperm will be combined with your donor's eggs in a dish in a laboratory. Two to five days later, each of the fertilized eggs will be a ball of cells called an embryo. Your doctor will insert two to four embryos into your uterus through your cervix using a thin catheter. Although it's not a common practice, many experts say couples should consider transfer of a single embryo to avoid the risk of twins or triplets. Extra embryos, if there are any, may be frozen in case this cycle doesn't succeed. If the treatment does succeed, an embryo will implant in your uterine wall and continue to grow into a baby. In about 40 percent of ART pregnancies using donor eggs, more than one embryo implants itself and women give birth to multiples.
Finding a donor yourself can be faster than going through a busy clinic, Egg donor programs vary in their requirements, but most conduct extensive screening and provide you with detailed information about the medical history, background, and education of the donor. Some programs have strict age limits; they won't accept donors older than their mid-20s.The procedure for egg donation and implantation is similar to standard IVF treatment. After a thorough exam, the woman receiving the donor egg will need a course of hormone treatments to prepare her for the egg. If she still has functioning ovaries, she'll need estrogen and progesterone treatments in order to make her cycle coincide precisely with the donor's.