Some women, for a variety reasons, may not be able to use their own oocytes (eggs) to achieve pregnancy. In these cases, donated oocytes may be a treatment option to consider. As a recipient of donated oocytes, the patient must have a uterus which is relatively normal in shape and function, otherwise a gestational carrier will also be needed.
There are several indications for oocyte donation. These include:
- Premature menopause (ovarian failure)
- Absence of ovaries from birth (ovarian agenesis)
- Previous chemotherapy or cancer treatment
- Previous ovarian surgery
- Carriers of genetic disorders
- Inadequate response to fertility drugs in the past
- Poor oocyte quality
- Advanced age
WHO’S WHO in the process
Oocyte donors are consenting healthy women between 21 and 32 years of age who ovulate normally. Women approved to be an oocyte donor should have a normal health history, no family history of significant genetic disorders, and a normal physical examination.
In addition, laboratory screening for communicable (sexually transmitted) diseases must all be negative. An oocyte donor may be anonymous or known. The majority of donor oocyte cycles involve the use of an anonymous donor.
In known oocyte donation procedures, couples may choose to have a friend or relative act as their oocyte donor. For a known oocytes donor cycle, the known donor must still undergo the same screening procedures as an anonymous donor. The screening for communicable diseases is required by law.
Donor Oocyte recipients are women, under the age of 50 years, who will receive eggs from the oocyte donor. These women have medical conditions which prevent natural conception using their own oocytes, but are otherwise able to carry a pregnancy. The donor oocyte recipient receives unfertilized oocytes which are then fertilized with their partner’s or donor sperm. The embryos created from the donor oocytes are then implanted in the recipient’s uterus.
The Egg Donation process
While similar in principle to sperm donation, oocyte donation is significantly more difficult. The oocyte donor will experience considerable inconvenience, some discomfort, and take some risk. Oocyte donation involves all the same steps required for in vitro fertilization: daily hormone injections, almost daily ultrasounds, blood work, and a transvaginal ultrasound-guided egg retrieval.
Pregnancy rates with Donor oocytes are very high and it there are no other confounding variables can be as high as 80% per attempt.