Some individuals or couples are facing difficulties or obstacles when trying to conceive a child. These fertility challenges can arise due to various factors and may involve both men and women.
There are several fertility treatment options that aim to help individuals or couples overcome infertility and increase their chances of conceiving a child. The Donor Egg IVF treatment option is gaining popularity and offering individuals or couples increased hope in their journey towards parenthood.
The Donor Egg IVF
Donor egg in vitro fertilisation (IVF), also known as donor oocyte IVF, is a fertility treatment option for individuals or couples who are unable to conceive using their own eggs. In this procedure, eggs are retrieved from a donor and fertilised with sperm in a laboratory setting. The resulting embryos are then transferred into the uterus of the intended mother or a gestational surrogate for pregnancy.
What are donor eggs?
Donor eggs, also known as donor oocytes, refer to eggs that are obtained from a woman (the donor) for the purpose of assisted reproductive techniques such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF). These eggs are then used to create embryos that can be transferred to another woman (the recipient) for achieving pregnancy.
Who is best to use donor eggs for IVF?
The decision to use donor eggs for IVF is a highly personal one and depends on individual circumstances. Donor eggs may be considered as an option in the following situations:
Diminished ovarian reserve
Women with diminished ovarian reserve, characterised by a reduced quantity or quality of eggs, may benefit from using donor eggs. This condition can occur with advanced maternal age, premature ovarian insufficiency, or as a result of certain medical treatments.
Advanced maternal age
As women age, the quality and quantity of their eggs decline, making it more challenging to conceive and increasing the risk of chromosomal abnormalities. Donor eggs from a younger, healthier donor can provide a higher chance of success in older women.
Previous IVF failures
Individuals or couples who have experienced multiple unsuccessful IVF cycles with their own eggs may consider using donor eggs to increase their chances of a successful pregnancy. This could be due to factors such as poor egg quality, recurrent implantation failure, or unexplained infertility.
If one or both partners have a known genetic disorder that they do not wish to pass on to their child, using donor eggs can help mitigate the risk. By using eggs from a donor without the genetic condition, the chance of transmitting the disorder to the child is eliminated.
Reproductive health issues
Women who have undergone surgery to remove their ovaries or have a condition that affects the function of their ovaries, such as certain types of cancer or ovarian dysfunction, may need to use donor eggs to achieve pregnancy.
The Donor Egg IVF process
The Donor Egg IVF procedure typically consists of several steps:
The recipient, the individual or couple who will receive the donated eggs, undergoes a comprehensive evaluation to assess their overall health and reproductive readiness. This evaluation may include medical history review, physical examinations, hormonal testing, ultrasound scans, and infectious disease screening.
The recipient selects an egg donor based on their preferences. Donors can be known, such as a family member or friend, or anonymous donors from a donor database or fertility clinic. Donors are carefully screened for medical and genetic history, infectious diseases, and other relevant factors to ensure the suitability of their eggs.
The menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient are synchronised using hormonal medications. This synchronisation allows for proper timing in the donor’s egg development and the preparation of the recipient’s uterus for embryo transfer.
Ovarian stimulation for the donor
The egg donor undergoes ovarian stimulation, which involves receiving hormonal medications to promote the development of multiple mature eggs. This is typically done through a series of self-administered injections over a period of about two weeks. The donor’s progress is monitored closely through ultrasound scans and hormone level measurements.
Once the eggs have matured, a minor surgical procedure called transvaginal ultrasound-guided follicle aspiration is performed. The eggs are retrieved from the donor’s ovaries using a thin needle inserted through the vaginal wall, usually under sedation or anesthesia. The procedure takes around 20-30 minutes.
The retrieved eggs are fertilised with sperm in the laboratory. This can be done through conventional IVF, where the eggs and sperm are placed together in a culture dish, or through intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), where a single sperm is injected directly into each egg. Fertilisation is monitored, and the development of embryos is observed.
Embryo selection and transfer
The resulting embryos are typically cultured in the laboratory for a few days. During this time, they are evaluated for their quality and development. The best-quality embryos are selected for transfer into the recipient’s uterus. The number of embryos transferred is typically based on various factors, including the recipient’s age and the embryo’s quality. The embryo transfer is performed using a thin catheter inserted through the cervix.
Pregnancy testing and follow-up
After the embryo transfer, there is a waiting period to determine if the recipient becomes pregnant. If pregnancy occurs, the recipient receives regular monitoring and care throughout the gestation period.
It’s important to note that the specific protocols and procedures may vary depending on the fertility clinic and individual circumstances. Working closely with a fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist is crucial to understanding the entire process, including the legal and ethical considerations, and to receive personalised guidance and support throughout the Donor Egg IVF journey.