What is egg donation

Everything you need to know about egg donation

Egg donation has, in only a few short decades, come a long way.
It provides the perfect opportunity for many to have a family who otherwise could not.
It’s the kind of experience that some of us do not understand.

Interested to know more about an egg transplant? Then read on. 

Life, as we know, throws many curveballs at us.
From the dream of birthing your own child to finding out that it may not be possible, there’s a lot to take in.
That feeling of not being able to conceive a child is a brutal feeling.

In 2016, the fertility sector in Britain helped to produce its 250,000th IVF baby.
How did we get here?

What makes IVF treatment and egg donation worthwhile?

What does it involve, and how can you prepare for it?

How can you choose an egg donor that you can trust?

What exactly does the pregnancy process feel like? How private is it?

Where should I get my eggs from? Should I visit abroad? 

There is a multitude of questions that you likely have.
Many of them carry anything but a simple answer, too.
If you are ready to learn about the beautiful world of IVF treatment, then this is the place to start.
With so much to learn about, this topic can be somewhat dizzying at first, but we will explain everything in detail.

Now, in this piece, you should be able to get answers to the above and some other fundamental questions.
With a bit of planning understanding, you'll find Oocyte donation easier to grasp.

That being said, it’s always important to do your reading.
There is nothing about egg donation that's simple.
Being able to understand the who, what, why, where and how of the egg donation process is essential

Ready to do so? Then let’s first look at why an egg transplant is worth considering. 

Why consider egg donation?

Woman considering egg donation

 

Before we go into the ‘nitty gritty’ of what egg donation involves,
it’s important to look at the reasons you'll take into consideration as much as anything. 

In life, it often feels a little churlish to try and push the concept of goals.
After all, we all have our idea of what goals we wish to achieve, right?

That said, one goal most couples have is becoming parents.
Parentage is one of the few shared, almost universal, goals that exist within modern life.
While in the past it was common to see a couple have a child, or even children, before the age of 20, today it’s not so familiar.

Many parents, for example, are now older: even pregnancy after 50 is common today.
Those who look to have children after enjoying the earlier stages of life might have issues.
So, too, might those who concentrated on a career path first.

To have a healthy pregnancy, even with the high quality of care available in the modern world, is quite hard.
It’s become a common problem for quite a lot of people: do you give up on your life ambitions for early parenthood? Or do you then wait a little too long?

Adoption was once the only option that we had. Now, around 40 years on from its inception, this treatment helps to make up for lost time. 

The older we are, the higher the risk that something might go wrong.

Egg reserves diminish over time, and this can make it hard to have a child past a certain point.
While by no means impossible – little in life is – it means that the decision may be taken out of your hands.

It’s not all down to age, though.
Various problems can reduce the chances of the success rate of pregnancy.
This can range from anything from general health to genetic conditioning.
This makes knowing when, or if, pregnancy is possible quite a challenge. 

Why not adopt?

That’s a common one that we hear, and it is obvious why people think this way.
If a child already exists in the world who needs help, then why not help one of them? 

Instead of creating another child for the world, why not help someone in need who is already here?

It’s (somewhat) common knowledge that in the major world of celebrity, that adoption is the go-to option.
Major stars have big-bucks’ careers to hold onto: losing nine months, and that superstar figure is not on the table!

There’s plenty of stories, and it makes sense.
Culture may deify celebrities, but their bodies age the same as anyone else.
Their eggs, too, cannot produce after a certain point.

For lots of parents and mothers, though, adoption is not enough.
That’s not to decry adoption though: it’s not what some people want. 

For those who want to have children, but don’t feel like adoption is enough, an egg transplant is an alternative.
Part of what makes the bond with a child so strong, aside from the shared genetics, is the journey.

From start to finish, the mother is there, helping their child through every step of the process.

They can find it hard to accept the child as their own, too.
With egg donation, though, you might not go through the ‘natural’ pregnancy process.
But, you can enjoy the process of pregnancy thanks to the miracle of science.
You also get to enjoy seeing the child whole the personal characteristics of the father. 

So, it’s a tough choice to make. Career, or child? Adoption, or treatment? 
The challenge, though, is making the decision – nobody can do that for you, after all!

Of course, knowledge is power.
If you want to know more about this treatment, read on below. 

What is Egg Donation, Exactly?

So, the next question that we should try and uncover is what egg donation entails.
The term itself can be more than confusing.
Don’t worry. We will try to explain it, as simple as possible.

Egg donation is often a suggested form of treatment when a female is unable to create and conceive her own eggs naturally.
This is the alternative treatment to adoption, as mentioned above.
An egg transplant can be very specific, and who you choose can play a huge role in determining the success of your donation experience.
We’ll look more into selecting a donor later on, but at the moment it’s important to know that either you can go anonymous or you can pick someone you know.
It’s a personal choice that you should both consider. 

It’s been noted that working with donors aged 20-29 is the best happy medium.
It’s during the period of 20-29 that egg health and quality is at its peak. This improves the chances of the treatment being a success. 

Many women take part in Gamete donation, as they feel it’s helping others and it can make a big difference to their own life. Women’s Health notes that, with many women offering multiple donations, it’s easy to find an experienced egg donor.
Experience pays off in this instance.
Experience donors know what they are doing.
This helps make the whole process seem a little less terrifying than it may have beforehand. 

Of course, all donors undergo testing for things like:

  • Familial history for any signs of mental issues in the family as well as genetic conditions.
  • Hereditary issues will be looked into, as well, to ensure safe and ethical donation.
  • Blood group and RH conditions will be looked into, as well.

With success rates improving all the time, it’s easy to see why people like the idea of an egg transplant.
The checks are quite strict. This helps to make it even safer.
Success rates are skyrocketing when using an egg transplant (check our success rates here).
This also suits those who wish to keep the process as natural as they can.

Also, egg donation keeps more everything in-line with the genetic make-up than adoption.
This provides an exciting opportunity for those who wish to be a mother, rather than an adoptee.
This helps to form the most natural and loving of bonds

Who might need egg transplant treatment?

While we’ll go into this in further depth, later on, we’ll take a quick look at the general consensus as to who might enjoy using egg donation. The most common people who are likely to be suggested to look into egg donation will include the following:

  • Women with low AMH levels (lower than 1 ng/ml)
  • Any females who have contracted early menopause or have lost their ability to conceive naturally, such as loss of your egg cells.
  • Also, women who show over 15% FSH levels on their 3rd day of menstruation will be considered.
  • Women who are unable to use IVF treatment to get a high quality of egg themselves.
  • Anyone who has undergone treatment to help remove damaged tissue. This includes cystic surgeries and ovarian removal.
  • Any female who may carry a risk of genetic illness or disease may also consider gamete donation.

All of these areas are pretty significant, and open play a leading role in determining how suitable you are for said treatment.
This allows for a woman to go through the pregnancy experience, letting them go through the process of conception naturally.

How does this process actually work, though?
Let’s take a look at what it all means.

The Egg Donor: What’s involved?

Without a doubt, one of the most complicated parts of the process stems from actually finding an egg donor.
For any mother-to-be who is unable to fall pregnant themselves, this offers a spectacular solution to try and ensure you can have a child of your own.
By using In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment, you can make a transformative adjustment to the way that you live. 

Basically, this solution requires an egg of a female and an egg of a father.
The donors’ eggs are taken and then mixed with the sperm of a man, and then fertilized in the lab.
When this happens, they are then sent to the uterus. 

The egg donation is taken from the donor (we'll discuss more on the donor later) and then fertilized with the sperm of the mother-to-be’ partner.
The embryo is then transferred into the uterus and delivered to the soon-to-be mother.
This is chosen if the source mother cannot create her eggs or otherwise were damaged.

This is the big difference between standard IVF treatment and egg donation.
With an egg transplant, a third party is needed. This allows everyone to benefit.
From those who have entered menopause, to those who are into their more advanced years: the benefits are wide-reaching.
It helps many people to conceive a child without the same issues as beforehand.

As you might imagine, the egg donor is rigorously tested on the things that we mentioned before.
This helps to make sure that the parties are all happy with the process, and that there is a full and clear understanding of what this all involves.

At this stage, though it’s also important to note that part of the standard IVF treatment will only take place with the donor.
The recipient will not go through the egg stimulation treatment plan, just the donor.
Outside of this, though, there is not a world of difference between ‘normal’ IVF treatment and recent egg donation.

Once the eggs are fertilized with the sperm of the recipient, then the embryo will be transferred to the mother-to-be’ uterus. Then, about 12 days later, a pregnancy test will be undertaken.

With the ability to pick based on things like hair colour, eye colour, height & even gender selection.
You can make some huge decisions that you could not usually when using Gamete donation.

Typically, Oocyte donation is seen as one of the most powerful treatments around.
While the process can be challenging and some might be worried about the cost of failure, stay calm.
Try and remember this famous quote from Robert H. Schuller:

“Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

There is no reason why you cannot make the most of this treatment if you are inclined to do so.
With everything checked so closely, success is more, not less, likely.
Now, you can see why the egg transplant is among the most popular fertility treatments in Europe.

How long does the egg donation process take, though?

The Egg Donation treatment process

Visual explanation of pregnancy through donor egg

 

So, one of the main reasons why the treatment method has become so vast is the fact that it helps those where standard egg management does not work. When you use egg donation, you more or less keep things exactly as they are.
The process is more or less identical to a real pregnancy.
For that reason, Gamete donation has quickly and easily become one of the most popular treatment plans, as mentioned above.

However, time is money. Not everyone has all the time in the world to float around for weeks on end waiting until treatment is done. Most of the time, people wonder if this is going to take them too long – can they afford to spend the time that they do?

Typically, though, with success rates of around 70% and higher in top IVF clinics of Europe (read the official report from GCR), you can easily make the time spent worth your while. At the moment, you could expect to spend a few days of treatment time in a nation like Cyprus. If you were to go abroad, this would give you an idea of the length of time that your treatment might take. Now you can plan around this, and get the best possible treatment down.

Within that five days, though, it’s important to try and get it to fall in line with your menstruation cycle. This can be hard to get right, yet is easily one of the most critical parts of your treatment process.

Moving forward with treatment

The plan usually revolves around the use of oral contraceptive solutions until the time is right. This helps to get alignment between donor and recipient, as their menstrual cycles must balance out in the same way. However, once they do match up and the donor begins her treatment for egg development, then the recipient will be put on a course of oestrogen pills. These pills often commence on day two of your menstrual cycle.

At this stage, the treatment plan of the donor will begin, and this will often take around twelve days. As time goes on, though, sperm samples are collected from the man, and then they are going to carry about 5 days, sometimes less, to form as part of the embryo. At this stage of the embryo formation process, they are then sent to the uterus. 

An 11-day period will pass after this, and at this stage, a pregnancy test will be taken. If the result is positive, then it is time to start a treatment of both oestrogen and Progesterone. Considering both of these will last for around three months, and this will play a very crucial role in making sure that the egg donation process is most likely to work.

The process can vary concerning time depending on personal circumstance, though. We recommend that if you do decide to look closer into Oocyte donation therapy, then you prepare for a long-term challenge. This takes time, and impatience will not help progress

Choosing a Donor

Now, we feel it’s important to finally broach and take on one of the most important topics of the whole experience: an egg transplant. Choosing a donor takes a lot of work and effort, and picking them correctly even more energy still. For couples who are unable to utilise traditional treatments, though, egg donation therapy is your best chance. The best part? You can either nominate someone, choose from a database or go anonymously.

Many people choose the last option, but please be aware that even the anonymous experience will create strong emotional ties. As this excellent Guardian piece shows, there’s a unique emotional pull no matter what direction you decide to go down.

Whether you choose your best friend or a total stranger, be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster. There is a lot to think about, and it will probably put you in a position of serious reflection. One thing that you should both do, though, is to talk about this carefully. Remember, too, that your prime candidate may turn out to be unsuitable or not interested. So, sometimes, you might have to choose between anonymous donation or not using the donation system whatsoever.

Important Donor Criteria

Qualifications about an agg donor

 

Every donor should come with general criteria that they need to pass before you feel happy with the decision. Despite being far cheaper in Europe compared to America, for example, egg donation is still a pricey investment. You should be 100% happy with the decision made.
To do that, here are some things to think about regarding opportunities for discussion with one another:

  • Are you satisfied with the test results of the person?
    If they are on an egg transplant plan, you can trust that they are a safe and reliable candidate.
    However, are you 100% happy?
  • Are you able to feel comfortable with things like their hair, eye or skin colour?
    Would you rather be more specific and make a much more refined choice on these vital characteristics?
  • Are you agreeable to any of the issues that might come up?
    For example, an allergy might not preclude someone from taking part in Gamete donation.
    Is that a problem for you?
  • What about age and egg quality?
    Typically, you want someone between 20-29, as we mentioned earlier.
    It’s vital because, despite advancements, anyone over 35 may struggle.
  • The more time that you can spend learning about the criteria of your donor, though, the better.
    You should always look to weigh up the pros and cons of each
  • For example, if you know the person, can you keep things professional?
    Can you maintain the kind of experience that you would want them to go through?
  • Are you able to keep your distance and to make sure that you don’t get too incisive during the process?
    Can they keep themselves clear from their input into the experience?

Let’s take a quick look at another essential part of the puzzle: pregnancies revolving around egg donation. It’s an important discussion point.

Pregnancy via Egg Donation

The whole experience can sound rather odd at first, and be getting to grips with what this all means is hugely important. For example, the Oocyte donation process is one that is growing all the time due to its high success rates and safe treatment methods. With little to no chance of pregnancy otherwise, gamete donation could help you make up for the biological shortfall that you suffer from.

Egg donation has a higher level of success, too. While it’s still rated as a significant challenge for some people beyond a certain age, things are changing. Rapid improvements to technology mean that many cases can have as much as a 4 in 5 chance of getting pregnant.

Soon after pregnancy via donation takes place, the embryo will have its heart rate monitored.
Once the heartbeat is being heard in the embryo, then the chance of a miscarriage can drop as low as 6%.

That is huge and can make it much easier for you to deal with the fear of failure during the donation process.
Although nothing can guarantee your success, there's a lot to be confident of.
The high level of technological advancement in IVF treatment is one.
So, too, is the wholesale transformation in pregnancy delivery.
This is true even for older patients, meaning there is far less chance of problems today.

Pregnancy via Gamete donation is very much possible.
This is true even for those who have undergone treatment for serious problems, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
This can make sure that those who may wish to have children have the opportunity to look closer into the process.
Egg donation offers more control that often feels chaotic. 

One thing we feel is essential to note is that there is a chance of failure.
Even with the best egg donation treatment across Europe, there is still no guarantee.
However, for those who have found other methods to fail, an egg transplant is often your last – and best – bet at falling pregnant.

The main issue, then, is getting around false hope.
As strong as Gamete donation is as a treatment, and the fact it’s getting stronger all the time, nothing in life is absolute.
For this reason, we recommend that you speak together with your partner to try and both get a sense of realism.

Egg donation success comes down to having a happy and prosperous life.
This means being able to enjoy the process, rather than feel the pressure.

This, too, also matters when talking about one critical egg donation element: confidentiality

Egg Donation and Confidentiality

Confidentiality in egg donation process

 

Given the delicate nature of the subject, it’s little surprise that most people wish to keep their egg donation confidential.
With egg donor numbers up, one of the main questions that people may ask is, quite simple: “How do I stop other people from finding out?

Since we’ve spoken at length regarding Gamete donation, we thought it was important to look a bit closer at the confidentiality side of things.
Since 2005, Britons have no longer been able to remain anonymous.
Naturally, this creates an immediate and genuine hostility towards the concept of confidentiality.
This is why anonymity is one of the main reasons for why UK couples choose IVF Treatment in Cyprus (10 more reasons in this article).
You see, people now tend to go abroad to get treatment if they wish to make sure that the private process remains that: private.

Privacy is unique in pregnancy.
It’s almost sacrilege to break such confidentiality, yet those who donate eggs do not hold those same rights.
A child over the age of 18 will now be able to search out their ‘other’ parent: a major problem for most parents.
Not only does it mean having to be open and honest about the conception of a child.
It says that donors are likely to be put off by the fact that, in time, their donation could have serious impacts on their own life. 

What you will find, though, is that other parts of the world are a touch more liberal about the concept of confidentiality.
For example, parts of Europe, such as Cyprus, do not operate in such a scenario.
Anonymity is provided, and this means that you do not have to provide consent for a child to seek down their donor parent.

That’s a vital part of the process.
By making sure that both donor and recipient never identities (when this is the preferred method of arrangement), everyone is happy.

Why does confidentiality matter?

  • For many people, the concept of using an egg donor that they do not know means they want to keep it that way.
  • If you hire someone to take on such an important task, you may wish to keep things separate. Anonymity makes that certain. 
  • This can stop the potential for unwanted social and emotional connections between the two parties.
    They are much more likely to understand that you want to keep it professional.
  • It also stops any problems later on down the line with regards to identity.
    If a child can break anonymity at age 18, it can cause significant problems in the household.
  • Some parents do not see the need for forced disclosure.
    If you are of that mindset and would like to avoid being enforced into making this decision, consider going abroad.

Anonymity is something offered far more in Europe.
As one anonymous donor we spoke to said:

“It’s better to be in charge of your future than to find yourself dealing with a past someone else created.”

It’s an interesting take.
As a donor, no part is played in the upbringing of the child.
Then being asked to raise them as your own after the fact may prove somewhat troublesome.
This is part of what makes the whole debate so hard to understand and find an answer for.
We know of some fascinating situations that could have put anonymity at risk.
So donors were unwilling to donate again, due to anonymity being broken.

If you are interested in knowing a bit more about the anonymity side of things, you can contact us and speak with our support team, or even directly with our Doctors.

Now that you can understand this part of the process let’s take a look at another way egg donation could be undertaken: the tandem cycle.

Getting to grips with the tandem cycle

So, the concept of the tandem cycle might sound a rather odd one at first.
The tandem cycle is defined by the Donor Conception Network as:

“A fertility procedure involving embryos being created using a woman’s eggs and eggs from a donor at the same time. If there are viable embryos from both sources, then a mixture may be transferred to a woman’s uterus. This can result in the recipient not being sure if any resulting pregnancy and child has been created with her eggs or those from a donor.”

The Tandem cycle, as mentioned above, is a somewhat controversial experience.
It's become a topic of much discussion across the industry.
It delivers what people might call a back-up or reserve plan to a woman who has fertility issues if her eggs are not suitable for pregnancy.
While some see it as unethical, it’s become a common discussion point that might be of interest to you if you are that way inclined.

The process is quite simple, and usually involves:

  • The patient and donor undergoing an ovarian stimulation process, with eggs collected.
  • A full fertilisation process of the patient’ eggs and the donor’ eggs with the partner’ sperm.
  • Long-term monitoring of the fertilisation of the embryo, developed in a lab condition.
  • Full embryo transfers when the process is finished and the embryo is ready for movement.

You also have the option of either transferring your own embryos, the donors’ embryos or a combination of the two.
It’s a rather challenging process to get your head around at first.
First, it’s commonly most associated with older women who have low ovarian reserves and/or elevated FSH levels.
With the tandem cycle, you can help almost to hedge your bets and try to use the eggs provided by the donor if your eggs do not work.

The challenge with this, though, is getting the ideal donor match.
You might find that you spend as long looking for a donor you 100% trust as you do going through the process itself.
Don’t rush this, though: the experience has to be as close to perfect as you can get.
There has to be ample time spent preparing and getting to know the other people involved in the process, or it could be a struggle.

How, then, do you prepare for such an enormous challenge?

Preparing for Egg Donation

A visual step by step guide for egg donation pregnancy

 

One of the most significant challenges that you might find with egg donation is getting ready for the process.

Dealing with Mummy

Like any other major life event, this is likely to be a big challenge and one that you need to be prepared to meet head-on. If you are not willing to face this challenge without being fully prepared for it, then it can hurt the likelihood of success.

Just like falling pregnant normally, this kind of treatment relies upon co-operation for all involved.
The more you can do to keep yourself calm and collected, the likelier success becomes.
As Medical Daily notes: “Other less severe risks include: infection, pain, cramping and overstimulation of the arteries, which may modify your menstrual cycle.
So, there are some concerns that you need to think about with regards to your health.

Therefore,

The more prep that can be done for both donor and recipient, the more likely it is to pay off.

One of the issues you need to prepare for, for example, is that the ratio of the fathers’ genes will be around 50/50.
You need to be ready to accept that, while this gives you the chance to have a pregnancy, it does mean carrying a baby who does not carry your genetics.

You could ask a family member, but think about the long-term effects this may have on your health, their health and the family as a whole.
Remember, you still go through all the same hormonal changes and adjustments, and you will be the lawful mother of the child.
It’s all in your mind for the most part: you can be happy, a maternal mother so long as you can get over the psychological barriers you’ve put up.

Dealing with Daddy

Another issue can stem from the father not knowing how to handle the whole situation best.
We recommend that you spend as much time as possible preparing both mother and father for the journey ahead.
The father has to be ready to give 100% support and to be empathetic towards the parental concerns of his partner.

We recommend that you consider some form of counselling or psychological support.
If you do choose to do so, always look to receive help from an industry expert.
This can help to keep anxiety at a minimum, and thus create an experience which will allow all parties to have the best chance of success possible.

Also, another issue that the father might have is the part where he has to be tested.
Men are generally quite ego-driven.
Indeed, having problems “downstairs” is often one of the major issues a man can worry about, according to The Good Men Project.

For any man who is going to be taking part in going for a spermiogram, you will need support from your partner.
This will likely leave you with a lot of questions about your manhood, and the fear of failure can be quite crippling.
Again, It’s all in your mind for the most part. 
If you pass the test, though, you are in a position to move forward with the process.

Should your results not be as good as expected, though, you could undergo sperm donation or embryo donation.
Rather than feeling disappointing, take joy in the fact that treatment cures both your problems and the fertility issues on the other side.

If you are unable to find the reason for your fertility issues, then you have to work with professionals to find the cause.
As ever, you should look to try and better understand your health here.

Where should you look to for better treatment, then?

Taking Egg Donation Seriously

So, as a Briton, you are likely going to want to consider taking egg donation further.
While there are always questions about the donor business and how it works, there are still doubts.
Some will decide that the United Kingdom’ egg donation program is not entirely suitable.
If you feel like this is the case, then you should look to do something about it and invest in the potential for going elsewhere.

For example, egg donation treatment is banned in many parts of the world.
While legal in the United Kingdom, it is illegal to pay for egg donation in the UK, according to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.
The more time that you can spend looking into where or not the UK has a good enough program for you, the better.
Many people, for example, choose to take their egg donation needs abroad.

As the HFEA also note on their site, there is a lot of consideration to take in, including:

  • Is going for treatment abroad safe? Am I going to put myself at risk by going abroad?
  • What is the legal scenario of the nation that I am going to visit?
  • Are the success rates high enough in the country that I am going to?
  • Is there eligibility for me in that nation? Would I even be allowed to take part?
  • What are their laws on anonymity and other factors?
  • Can I afford the treatment?

Three of the most favoured nations at the moment in Europe is the Czech Republic, Spain and also Cyprus.
All three come with trusted backgrounds in egg donation quality.
Among the three, egg donation in Cyprus is probably the most popular.

High-quality facilities, appropriate legislation and impressive success rates are all provided here.
This often makes an egg transplant in Cyprus worth consideration.
You can soon find that a trip to Cyprus is the best place to start when investigating egg donation abroad.

Not only are the costs extremely fair in Cyprus (and in the other two nations) but you also get to benefit from:

  • Anonymity for the donors, meaning that all parties involved have no reason to break secrecy.
  • A long-term history of treatment in the nation, with full legality and legitimacy.
  • A history of patient-friendly and robust legislation that protects you during the process.
  • Open and inclusiveness to all, especially in Cypriot facilities where Asians regularly visit.
  • Top quality facilities with treatment and assistance mentally and physically.
  • Impressive success rates and hugely remarkable birth rates.
  • Brilliant communications with your medical staff when working with them.

All of these factors, then, should play at least some role in deciding if you wish to go for egg donation in the UK, or abroad.
With the cost and the ease of getting started easier on the continent than at home, though, you might find it easy to go jet-setting with your partner.
If nothing else, you’ll get to enjoy the far more tranquil weather!

With so much to take in, we recommend that you read over this a few more times to fully grasp the egg donation program. There’s a lot to think about, but the above should make a challenging and often emotionally draining process so much easier to consider.

So, where will you go for egg donation treatment? 

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