Egg Donation

Egg Donation, also known as oocyte or ovum donation, is a process that enables a woman to donate her eggs to another woman (recipient) who is not able to produce viable eggs on her own. To enable this process, both the egg donor and egg recipient (or gestational carrier) are required to undergo medical treatment so that eggs may eventually be donated. Egg donation involves a process called in vitro fertilization (IVF), in which donor eggs are fertilized in the laboratory and the resulting embryos are transferred into the recipient or gestational carrier. With the benefit of advanced reproductive technology, egg donation offers one of the most successful treatments for any type of infertility.


In the case of donation to an infertile woman, an egg donor is enabling the recipient to experience pregnancy – an opportunity she would not otherwise have. Women who seek an egg donor are unable to become pregnant using their own eggs, either because of a medical condition or because they are attempting pregnancy at an older age, when a woman's own egg supply begins to decline. Many of these women have undergone repeated cycles of IVF and experienced significant frustration. While the egg donor is being compensated for their egg donation, know that this act is nevertheless a true gift that will enable another woman or couple to have a family.

Fertility evaluation process

As part of this screening process, prospective donors undergo a fertility evaluation, consisting of a physical examination and trans-vaginal pelvic ultrasound (an ultrasound examination of the uterus and ovaries). Lab work during the evaluation includes a blood draw.

What happens once selected as an egg donor?

For the donor, there are three basic steps in the process from this point forward. These include:

  • Pre-cycle screening in our center
  • Synchronizing the cycles of the donor and intended parent, and donor stimulation cycle to produce multiple eggs for donation
  • Egg retrieval
Fertility Preservation

Pre-cycle screening

Once the donor has been chosen by a recipient as their egg donor, our agency will contact them to schedule a series of pre-cycle screening appointments. physical exam and ultrasound and additional lab work to test for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, Hepatitis and Syphilis.

Synchronization and Stimulation

In this initial stage, both donor and recipient will begin medication to synchronize their menstrual cycles to the same time table. This conformity is necessary in order for the recipient to receive the donor's fertilized eggs at the appropriate time.

While the egg recipient receives treatment to prepare her body for pregnancy, the donor will prepare their body to produce multiple eggs for donation. This process involves a few different medications that will serve to control their menstrual cycle and promote the growth of multiple eggs on their ovaries.

Some of the medications the donor will receive during this time are given by injection. While this may be a daunting concept at first, please know that our nurses will carefully instruct and council them throughout the medication process. Throughout the donor's treatment, they will receive regular monitoring so that we can gauge their response to treatment, adjust medication as necessary and determine when they are ready for next steps.

Monitoring donor treatment involves two basic procedures -

Vaginal ultrasound. This is a painless procedure involving a very thin probe inserted into the vagina. The ultrasound enables the doctor to obtain a clear image of the size and number of egg follicles developing on the donor's ovaries.

Blood testing to measure hormone levels. As eggs begin to grow on the donor's ovaries, they will produce increasing amounts of the hormone estradiol (estrogen). By testing the amount of estradiol in your blood, doctors can gauge the level of stimulation occurring in the ovaries.

Egg retrieval

Approximately 36 hours after receiving the hCG injection, the donor will come into our clinic for an egg retrieval procedure. Because anesthesia is used for the egg retrieval, it is completely painless. For the procedure, a vaginal ultrasound probe fitted with a tiny needle is passed through the wall of the vagina and into each ovary. The needle punctures each egg follicle and removes the egg through a gentle suction. The egg retrieval procedure is brief, taking a half hour or less. Once the procedure is concluded, we ask that our donors rest at our clinic until the anesthesia wears off completely. They may feel some minor cramping in the ovaries that can be treated with appropriate medications. Because they will have received sedation, it is required to have someone drive them home following the procedure. As is common with most any surgical procedure, we also ask that someone be with our donors for a minimum of 12 hours following the retrieval in order to make sure there are no complications from the anesthesia or the procedure. It is fine to resume light activity following the egg retrieval.

Once the eggs are retrieved, they will be sent immediately to our center's laboratory, where embryologists will begin the process of in vitro fertilization the union of the sperm and egg.

Eggs are placed in a specialized substance (culture media) in the Petri dish. The embryologist next analyzes the semen sample provided by the male partner and isolates the most optimal sperm for fertilization. Sperm are added to the eggs in the Petri dish. In some cases, the embryologist will perform additional laboratory procedures such as ICSI to enhance chances of fertilization. Within 24 hours, the eggs will fertilize. After this point, they are referred to as embryos.

Embryos will develop in the laboratory for 3-5 days, at which point they will be transferred to the recipient or gestational carrier in a brief and painless procedure.

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