Understanding the Egg Donation Process

Couples dealing with fertility problems often turn to an egg donor for help. Egg donations are one option for assisted conception and an attractive choice for many women who have difficulty conceiving on their own. Over 150,000 women in the United States deal with ovarian problems and cannot produce healthy, high quality eggs of their own. There are several reasons why a woman cannot produce eggs and several ways for her to get a healthy egg supply. Here’s a close look at the egg donation process, and programs available at fertility clinics around the United States:

Reasons to Pursue Egg Donation

Many women cannot produce healthy eggs, and this can be traced to a number of reasons including:
  • Menopause
  • Poor lifestyle habits
  • Side effects of surgery or chemotherapy
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Poor development of the ovaries
  • Genetic defects of the ovaries
  • Premature ovarian failure
All of these result in lower fertility rates and may require intervention with an egg donation.

The Egg Donation Process for Women Dealing with Infertility

In vitro fertilization (IVF) is often performed with donated eggs, and there are many risks involved with the procedure. Women must undergo several tests before the egg donation process can begin to rule out the risk of abnormalities affecting the success of IVF. These tests include:
  • Blood tests to check thyroid and prolactin levels
  • Screening for infectious diseases
  • Testing for cervical cultures for Chlamydia
  • Testing for cervical cultures of gonorrhea and mycoplasma
  • X-rays of the uterus
  • Saline sonogram
  • Hysteroscopy to check for abnormalities of the uterus and fallopian tubes
After the woman who is preparing for the egg donation has passed all of the necessary tests, she may need to undergo a mock egg donation cycle. This cycle typically lasts between 4 to 6 weeks and involves regular checks of hormonal blood levels and taking various medications to increase fertility rates. During this time, the fertility clinic will monitor blood levels and endometrial growth very closely nand determine whether the woman is a good candidate for the egg donation. These “prep cycles” may be coupled with pretreatment counseling sessions to ensure that the woman is aware of the risks and benefits of the egg donation process, and the likelihood of success based on test results.

The Egg Donation Process for Egg Donors

Women interested in becoming an egg donor must undergo a thorough health examination and visit with an infertility specialist in their area. Egg donors are typically between the ages of 21 and 35 years and in good physical health. Egg donors may remain anonymous or known, and must show proof of a healthy medical and genetic history. They must also test negative for certain types of infectious diseases.
Learn more about egg donors in our information guide, or consult with a fertility treatment specialist in your area to find out if you are a good candidate for becoming an egg donor or receiving an egg donation.