How to Get Pregnant with an Egg Donor?Fertility Treatment
In some cases, medication or other methods of assisted reproduction cannot work toward preventing the causes of infertility. For example, although a woman has healthy reproductive organs, she may not be able to conceive a child due to conditions such as old age, poor egg quality, premature menopause, and other disorders. In such cases, donor eggs are the only way to help the fertility problem.
What Is Egg Donation and How Does It Work?
Egg donation is a fertility treatment method for women whose eggs are insufficient to be fertilized due to factors such as old age. In this method, the egg taken from a third party is inseminated with the sperm of the male partner in the laboratory, and the resulting embryo is transferred into the female partner's uterus.
Who Is a Good Candidate for Using Egg Donation?
The egg donation method is an alternative for women with poor egg quality or those who did not produce good-quality embryos in at least three cycles of assisted reproduction. This method can also be used where a genetic disease can be transmitted from mother to fetus. Sometimes, a laboratory method such as PGD cannot treat and identify genetic disorders. If you want to know more about preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), follow this article.
In general, the following people can use the egg donation method to treat fertility problems:
- Women over the age of 35;
- Women with hypogonadotropic;
- Women with premature ovarian failure;
- Women with a history of oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries);
- Women with a history of chemotherapy or radiation therapy;
- Not responding ovaries to ovulation-stimulating drugs;
- The existence of definite signs of diminished ovarian reserve;
- Recurrent incurable miscarriage;
Donor Egg Recipient Requirements
- Being between 21 to 35 years old;
- Being a divorcee or a non-lactating widow;
- Preferably having one healthy child;
- Being genetically healthy;
- Not having diseases such as AIDS, hepatitis, syphilis, etc.;
- Not being addicted;
- Having Normal ovarian volume and reserve;
- Having consulted a psychologist or psychiatrist
- Having a doctor’s referral letter which shows the person is eligible to use egg donation.
How Should the Recipient of Donor Egg Be Evaluated?
In IVF with a donor egg, both the donor and the recipient should perform multiple examinations. The recipient should undergo a physical examination, a mammogram, colonoscopy, sonohysterography, and ultrasound screening. Also, she should take several blood tests with specific intervals so that her hormone level, blood type, rubella, hepatitis, HIV, etc., can be measured.
What does the donor have to do before egg retrieval?
The donor will probably be asked to abstain from eating and drinking for about 8 to 10 hours before the operation. She will also be asked not to wear contact lenses, jewelry, makeup, and nail polish on the day of surgery. The donor will be given anesthesia by intravenous injection or inhalation in the operating room.
Egg Donor IVF Process Step by Step
In the egg donation process, the donor egg is fertilized with the sperm of the intended father in the laboratory. The fertilized egg or embryo is then transferred into the intended mother’s uterus. The egg retrieval process is performed under local anesthesia.
Step 1: Donor Screening
Before the egg donation procedure, the donor must refer to the infertility center according to the schedule announced. In the first step, the donor should be examined by a gynecologist. Then, she has to undergo an ultrasound examination and perform tests such as AIDS, hepatitis, addiction, etc. Finally, the donor can take permission from a physician to donate her egg.
Step 2: Egg Donor Matching
To perform egg donor IVF, the physician regulates the donor's menstrual cycle and coordinates it with the recipient's cycle. This process will take about a month. Of course, to choose a suitable donor for each person, the physician considers the donor's health and the appearance similarity (phenotypic) between the donor and reception, including skin color, eye color, hair color, and body structure. The physician also maintains the confidentiality of donor identities.
Step 3: Ovarian Stimulation for the Egg Donor
Having gone through an ultrasound examination, the donor enters the process of taking medications to stimulate the ovaries to induce ovulation. Most of these drugs are taken for ten days. Once the follicles have reached the proper size, the doctor will set a specific day for retrieving the eggs from the donor's ovaries. A sperm sample is taken from the recipient's partner on the same day. The donated egg is then fertilized with sperm in a dish in a laboratory. The egg retrieval process is an outpatient procedure performed under local anesthesia. Click here for more information about the egg retrieval process.
Step 4: Fertilization and Embryo Transfer
The resulting embryo comprises the recipient's partner's sperm, and the donated egg is transferred into the recipient's uterus. About two or three embryos are often transmitted per IVF cycle. The egg recipient can take a pregnancy test after 14 days.
What to Expect after Egg Donation?
After egg donation, you may need to get one or two days off from work to recover. However, if you feel physically and mentally ready to return to your daily activities, you can do so. Sometimes, the egg donor should be monitored for several days, or she should meet a psychotherapist for a couple of sessions. It is better to keep in touch with your doctor for the first two weeks to ask for his/her help if necessary.
What does the donor have to do after egg retrieval?
After the egg retrieval process, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection and reduce inflammation in the genitals. The donor is asked to return to the hospital for a post-retrieval checkup. So that the doctor can ensure that she is recovering correctly from both the ovarian stimulation and retrieval. In most cases, donors can return to routine activities a day after egg retrieval. But in case any of the following complications occur, you should immediately report them to the doctor:
- Body temperature over 38° C;
- Severe abdominal pain or bloating;
- Chronic nausea and vomiting;
- abnormal uterine bleeding (low bleeding is normal);
- Painful or difficult urination;
- Weakness or dizziness.
Success Rate of IVF with Donor Eggs
The success rate of pregnancy with a donor egg depends on several factors, such as the maternal age, the quality of sex cells and the embryo, the general health condition of the mother, and the number of embryos transferred. On average, the chance that an egg donation cycle results in pregnancy is 50%. Compared to the risk rate of the egg donation cycle, which is very low, its success rate is quite acceptable.
Donor Identity in Egg Donation
Whether or not the donor's identity is confidential depends on the recipient and donor’s agreement. Sometimes, the recipient couple prefers to meet the egg donor and know her better. In contrast, in other cases, the recipients want to know important physical and mental information about the donor, not her full identity. It is also noteworthy that in some situations, the parents may let the donor contact the child once he/she reaches a certain age. Hence, the recipient asks the fertility clinic to preserve the donor's identity for future use.
What Are the Risks of Being an Egg Donor?
- Injection problems
The physician uses injectable hormonal drugs to stimulate the ovaries to release healthy eggs. Most people will not have any problems during the injection, but in some cases, some will experience allergies, redness, bruising, and in rare cases, fluid retention, breast pain, and mood swings. In addition, injections of hormonal drugs may cause irregular menstruation in subsequent menstrual cycles.
- Ovarian cysts
Ovarian cysts have been reported in about 1% of women who had donated their eggs.
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
Sometimes, the egg donor develops ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and complications such as dehydration, kidney damage, fluid retention in limbs, and blood clotting disorders.
Ovarian stimulating hormones are injected to perform egg retrieval so the ovary can release several eggs. If the donor’s body fails to control the injected hormones, they may become allergic, and their health may be at risk.
- Risks during egg retrieval
Suppose a donor prefers unreliable centers or inexperienced doctors for performing egg retrieval. In that case, she increases the risk of damage to her intestines, bladder, arteries around the ovaries, and damage to adjacent organs of the ovaries.
- Hot flash
Some of the complications of ovarian stimulation hormone injection include hot flashes, sweating, anxiety, vaginal dryness, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, and feeling of extreme heat.
- Depression and mental health problems
Some egg donors become depressed after the procedure. It is recommended that the person be prepared mentally for the donation before proceeding.
- Genital cancer
Studies show that since a woman takes a lot of hormonal drugs during the egg donation process, frequently donating eggs can increase the risk of women’s cancer.
Egg Donation and Surrogacy
The doctor suggests using donor eggs and surrogacy in patients with serious uterus or ovarian problems such as cancer, endometriosis, or MRKH syndrome. In the surrogacy method, the egg and sperm are fertilized in the laboratory, and the resulting embryo is transferred to the womb of the surrogate mother to be carried out for nine months. The surrogate doesn’t share any DNA or biological feature with the baby and only carries it until it is born. Also, she has no legal right or responsibility toward the child.
Egg Donation in Islam
Shiite and Sunni scholars have held various opinions on using the egg donation method. Most Sunni scholars agree that egg donation is not permitted in Islam, while most Shiite scholars consider this method allowable. They agree that if the donor and recipient’s partner temporarily marry together for a few hours before the egg retrieval, the resulting embryo in the laboratory will be legitimate.
So, we recommend you obtain the necessary information about the fatwā of your marji’ taqlīd if you wish to use donor eggs.
Legal System of Egg Donation in Iran
Before starting the egg donation process, the receivers and donors will be informed about their rights and duties in this regard during a legal consultation session. After having reached an agreement, the two parties sign a contract.
We should note that the donor will not have rights over the embryo produced through the IVF process. The resulting embryos legally belong to the receivers of the donor egg.
If you are looking for more information about Egg Donation Process in Iran, don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation from Raadinahealth medical consultants. We support and help you to find the best fertility treatment centers in Iran as well as the right specialist for your needs. To book an appointment with a doctor, begin here.
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FAQs on Egg Donation
1) Can I donate to a family member, friend, or someone else I know?
Although the egg donor is anonymous in most cases, you can donate an egg to a family member or friend if they ask. No moral or legal problem exists in donating eggs to someone you know.
2) Can I donate more than once?
Yes. Each fertile woman can donate eggs up to 6 times in her lifetime.
3) Do I have legal responsibilities to the child after the egg donation?
No. Before egg donation, you sign a contract that removes all your responsibilities towards that child, so you won’t have any legal rights and responsibilities associated with the child.
4) Can I go to work during the egg donation cycle?
If your job is not physically demanding and does not interfere with your clinic appointments, you can resume your work during the egg donation process.
5) Will egg donation reduce my eggs?
No. Every woman is born with a certain number of eggs. Each month, the uterus depletes one egg after the menstrual period. Fertility medications release some of these eggs that the body would naturally discard. So, egg donation does not reduce your ovarian reserve, and you will still be fertile after egg donation.
5) How long does the egg donation process take?
The egg donation takes about 6 to 8 weeks, two to four weeks for medical evaluations, ultrasound monitoring, and physical examinations, and four weeks for taking medications and egg retrieval.