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 fertilised 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 a fertility treatment, such as IVF, 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 programme, the precision of our clinical processes, and the personalised treatment care delivered by our team of highly trained specialists.
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There are three different egg donation programmes 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 programmes. 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 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 colour, hair colour, 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 donated voluntarily 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, counselling 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. It is not possible for a donor-conceived individual to find out information about their donor.
Like in the UK, donors 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 programmes 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.
On the first visit, our specialists will review your case, in order to be able to recommend the treatment that best suits your situation. For this, reports of any previous reproduction treatment will be reviewed, if any, and a gynaecological study of the patient will be carried out, as well as an analysis of the semen sample, in the case of a heterosexual couple. During this visit, you can discuss the different treatment options with our specialists, depending on whether you prefer an anonymous or non-anonymous donation.
On the second visit the patient will have a consultation with our egg donation coordinator, who will explain the treatment and give you the opportunity to ask any questions about how the donor and matching process is carried out. After this, you will then be required to have a counselling session with one of our psychologists, who will make sure you understand all the implications and legal aspects of the treatment, whether you opt for a UK non-anonymous egg donation or choose to go abroad for anonymous treatment.
Our specialists will carry out the most appropriate donor allocation process for you. To do this, they will take into account medical factors such as Rh compatibility and, if desired, physical characteristics such as complexion, height and eye and hair colour.
To maximise the implantation chances of the embryo to be transferred, the patient is medicated for approximately 10 days to prepare the uterus. Our specialists monitor the correct evolution of this stimulation by ultrasound and blood tests.
The sperm preparation is performed in the laboratory, and can come from a donor or partner. In this case, the semen can be obtained on the same day as the oocyte donation, following a period of sexual abstinence. Semen can also be cryopreserved in advance of donation, and on the day when there is a compatible oocyte donor the previously frozen sample is used. The sperm sample is prepared in the laboratory in order to remove certain components and to select the most suitable spermatozoa for fertilising the donated oocytes.
In the IVF lab, the spermatozoa and oocytes are brought into contact through the technique of in vitro fertilisation or sperm microinjection (ICSI). Once the embryos have been fertilised, they stay in the laboratory, where our embryologists observe and classify them according to their morphology and their ability to divide. Not every embryo will carry on developing, so the decision about when to complete the embryo transfer will depend on the number and quality of the embryos.
During the transfer, our specialists insert the best embryo into the uterus using a catheter. This procedure is performed with no anaesthetic, and is painless. The patient can carry on with their normal life after resting for just a few minutes.
11 days after the embryo transfer, the patient undergoes a blood pregnancy test. If it is positive, 20 days later our specialists will perform a control ultrasound and the patient will be discharged from IVI. The patient’s regular gynaecologist will monitor the pregnancy from that moment.