Treatments & Options - Donor Egg - Procedures

In vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor eggs offers you a chance to become pregnant even after an infertility diagnosis. Many women are able to become pregnant and deliver healthy babies after using donor eggs with IVF. In this section, we share what to expect during the egg donor process.

Getting started
Your infertility clinic will help you get started in the egg donor process. When you begin reviewing egg donor profiles, you can expect to discover all sorts of information about each potential egg donor. You will be able to find out the following information:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Height and weight
  • Eye and hair color
  • Education and hobbies
  • Personal information about her family history
  • Her reasons for choosing to be an egg donor

You may also be able to see pictures of each egg donor. It is important to take the time to review the data in each egg donor profile to narrow down which woman may be the best “fit” with your family. Alternatively, you may choose to work with an egg donor that you already know.

What to expect
During the donor egg process, you and your partner will undergo an evaluation. This typically includes a detailed medical history of both partners as well as infectious disease screening for syphilis, hepatitis B and C, and HIV. While the male partner will have a semen analysis, the woman’s assessment is much more involved. This assessment helps to make certain that your health would not be jeopardized by pregnancy as well as to optimize the success of the pregnancy.

You may also undergo a mock egg donation cycle or “prep cycle.” This is done to make sure that the recipient’s endometrium lining thickens well enough and the desired blood levels can be achieved to support pregnancy. For 4 to 6 weeks, you are given the same medications used in the egg donation process and are monitored for hormonal blood levels and endometrial growth.

The egg donor process
The following steps occur during the egg donor process:

  1. When a woman is identified as a donor, she takes fertility medications to stimulate the development of multiple eggs.
  2. You will also take hormones (estrogen and progesterone, which are normally produced from the ovaries) to prepare your uterus to accept the embryo(s).
  3. When the eggs have developed or matured, they are removed from the donor’s ovaries. Usually, around 10 to 20 eggs can be retrieved.
  4. Once the eggs are outside the donor’s body, they are fertilized with sperm from any source (such as your male partner or a sperm donor). The fertilized eggs are allowed to mature further in the laboratory.
  5. Finally, the embryos are transferred into your uterus. You will continue to take hormones to support the lining of the uterus after the transfer.

If the embryo implants into the lining of your uterus and continues to develop, then a pregnancy has occurred. You will continue the hormone treatment for the first trimester of the pregnancy. The hormones allow your baby's placenta to develop and eventually take over the production of hormones.

Choosing to use an egg donor is not an easy decision to make. During the egg donation procedure, counseling may be useful to help you and your partner understand the likelihood of success, risks, and psychological implications of this process.