Egg donation is the process whereby a woman uses donated eggs, or oocytes, to allow her to become a mother. The oocytes from the donor will be fertilized using the recipient couple’s sperm or sperm from a sperm donor to produce embryos. The best quality embryos can then be used by the recipient couple in an IVF treatment to achieve a pregnancy. Egg donation achieves miracles for women who would not be able to have children any other way.
The use of donor eggs may be recommended for:
At IVI London, using donated oocytes in a fertility treatment has no impact on success rates when compared with using a patient’s own oocytes. This is possible due to the quality of our recipient-donor matching program, the precision of our clinical processes, and the personalized treatment care delivered by our team of highly trained specialists.
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There are three different types of egg donation treatments offered by IVI London. Our specialists can advise which option may be best for you based on your specific circumstances.
There are specific criteria that must be met in order to become a donor. These apply across all egg donation programs. Donors must be between the ages of 18 and 35, fit and healthy, and have no history in the family of inherited diseases or genetic disorders. In the UK, the criteria for becoming a donor is regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).
Before using donated eggs in a fertility treatment, it is important to understand the process of donation and its legal implications.
In the UK, donation is always non-anonymous. This means that any donor-conceived person has the legal right at the age of 18 to request information about their donor. The donor-conceived person has no legal claims or rights in relation to their donor. Similarly, there is no legal implication for the donor towards any children born as a result of their donated egg or embryo.
At the time of donation, only non-identifying information will be available to the recipient of any donated eggs (or embryos), such as height, eye color, hair color, country of birth and educational background. Most of our patients want to know as much as possible about their donor, so we try to make sure our donor profiles are as personal as possible, including how the donor describes themselves, how their friends see them, and what hobbies they have.
Many of our donors also write a personal message for any children born from their donation, which can also be read by the parents.
At IVI London, counselling is an essential part of egg donation to ensure that both parties understand the implications of the process.
Known egg donation is different to non-anonymous, or altruistic, egg donation. Known egg donation is a process in which a recipient couple use oocytes in a fertility treatment which have been voluntarily donated from someone they know.
This could be a friend, a relative or anyone who has agreed to donate their oocytes knowingly. Known egg donation is very common and many recipient couples find comfort in knowing their donor is someone close to them. In order to become a donor, known donors must meet the same criteria as non-anonymous donors.
Like altruistic donation, counseling will be offered to both the known donor and the recipient couple to ensure that they understand the implications of the process.
In Spain, egg donation must be completely anonymous. This process is regulated by Law 14/2006 which states anonymity is compulsory and there can be no links or contact between donor and the recipient couples. Recipient couples can only know very basic non-identifying information about the donor, such as complexion, height and eye colour. Donor-conceived individuals are prohibited from finding out any information about their donor.
Like in the UK, donors in Spain must be between the ages of 18 and 35, be healthy and have no family history of genetic diseases. In addition, the legal framework in Spain guarantees that all donations are voluntary and altruistic, avoiding any commercial motivation.
Many couples in the UK use egg donation programs overseas because there is greater availability of donor eggs, thus reducing waiting times if their treatment is time-sensitive.
To learn more about donation in Spain and the donor allocation process, you can visit our international website.
During your first appointment, your consultant will discuss your medical history and advise which fertility treatments will be most effective given your specific circumstances. If you have had fertility treatment in the past, the results will be reviewed with your consultant. In order to recommend the most effective treatment, a gynaecological examination will be performed as well as an pelvic ultrasound scan. If you’re part of a heterosexual couple, a semen analysis will be performed if required. If egg donation is recommended, your consultant will discuss the different treatment options as well as donor anonymity and non-anonymity.
At your second appointment, you will have a consultation with our egg donation coordinator who will explain how the treatment is carried out. They will also be able to answer any questions you have about the donor-matching process. Afterwards, you will need to organise a counselling session with one of our in-house counsellors, who will ensure you understand the implications and legal aspects of the treatment. This will be required whether you opt for non-anonymous egg donation in the UK or choose to go abroad for treatment.
Our egg donation team will carefully evaluate your potential donors, taking into account medical factors such as genetic compatibility and, if desired, physical characteristics such as complexion, height, eye colour and hair colour.
At this stage, the recipient of the donor eggs will begin taking medication for approximately 10 days in order to prepare her uterus. This maximizes the chances of implantation when the embryo is transferred. Our specialists carefully monitor the stimulation process through regular ultrasound scans and blood tests.
The semen sample can be provided on the same day as the egg donation, or provided at an earlier date and cryopreserved. Before providing a sample, a short period of abstinence is required. Once obtained, the sperm is carefully prepared in the laboratory in order to select the healthiest spermatozoa for fertilizing the oocytes. This process will apply whether a sperm sample is being used from a partner, or from a sperm donor.
In the laboratory, the oocytes are fertilised by the spermatozoa through conventional IVF or sperm microinjection (ICSI). Once fertilised, the resulting embryos are cultivated in the laboratory, where they are monitored and classified by our embryologists according to their morphology and cell division patterns. Embryos do not always develop correctly, so the decision about when to schedule the embryo transfer will depend on the quality of the embryos and the number available.
During the embryo transfer procedure, the embryo is carefully placed inside the uterus using a catheter. This procedure is painless and does not require anesthetic. After an embryo transfer, you can carry on with your day as normal after resting for just a few minutes.
Around 11 days after the embryo transfer, you will be able to undergo a blood pregnancy test. If the result is positive, our specialists will schedule a controlled ultrasound in the next 20 days to confirm an ongoing pregnancy. After the ultrasound scan, you will be discharged from IVI and your antenatal care will begin with your preferred provider. Your GP can put you in touch with your nearest midwifery service.