Egg Donation

A Look at Egg Donation

Egg donation is sometimes the only course to pregnancy, since in many cases of infertility, egg penetration is impossible. Age, medical and genetic history and ovulation irregularities can all lead a woman to seek an egg donor, but there are several things to know before a decision is made.

About Egg Donation

There are a few methods of egg donation available to women, depending on their circumstances. A friend or relative may be willing to act as a donor, or you can find an anonymous donor through an egg bank from which you can purchase an egg, or ovum. Finally, women who undergo IVF may choose to donate unused eggs to shared oocyte programs, and your purchase of their eggs will help to pay for their in vitro treatment. This method is certainly cost-effective, and the mutually beneficial results can also be appealing.

Unlike sperm donation, egg donation carries risks for both the donor and the recipient. The donor may suffer from complications with the IVF procedure, and some evidence suggests that there is an increased risk of early menopause and ovarian cancer from the intense hormone therapy. The greatest risk for the recipient is in developing an infectious disease or receiving false information about the donor's medical health or history, although these things are typically caught in the donor screening process.

Egg Donors and Banks

To donate eggs, a woman must be between the ages of 21 and 31 and go through a strict screening process to ensure good genetic, reproductive and psychological health. An ultrasound to examine the reproductive organs, psychological examination and blood tests to reveal symptomless infections such as HPV must be conducted before the legal papers can be signed and the procedure can begin.

The donation process will begin with medication to prepare the bodies of both the donor and the recipient—the donor will take birth control pills and go through several weeks of hormone therapy to stimulate mature egg production in the ovaries. Once the follicles in the ovaries are mature, the eggs can be extracted rather quickly by a small ultrasound-guided needle and a light anesthetic. After a donor egg has been retrieved, the process of in vitro fertilization can begin.

The egg donation process can be complicated, stressful and drawn out. Legal contracts will need to be drafted and procedures will have to be financed; be sure to review the risks, costs, success rates and your own health to decide of this procedure is right for you.

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