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Egg Donation or How to be a Mum
using Donor Eggs
Egg Donation or How to be a Mum using Donor Eggs
Egg Donation or How to be a Mum using Donor Eggs is a hope for those women who long to become a mother, but cannot with their own eggs. The egg donation treatment consists of an in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment in which eggs from an anonymous donor and semen from the partner are used, although it is also possible to fertilise the eggs with sperm from a donor.
There are several different reasons as to why a woman cannot conceive with her own oocytes. From a previous surgery to suffering from some type of chromosomal disease, such as Turner Syndrome (that causes abnormal functioning of the ovaries and sterility). These are circumstances in which egg donation treatment is needed to create a life.
Likewise, delayed motherhood is one of the most common factors to initiate an egg donation treatment. Nowadays, our lifestyle sometimes forces us to postpone the time to have children. And it is no one’s fault, it is the vital dynamics that centrifuges and pushes us towards delayed motherhood. There are also women who start menopause at an early age, as is the case of early menopause which causes ovulation to vanish, and, therefore, so does the woman’s reproductive capacity.
However, the good news is that Reproductive Medicine offers a new hope to be a mother for all of them.
But what is Egg Donation exactly?
As mentioned in this article, egg donation is the perfect treatment option for those women who do not have the possibility of having children with their own eggs. Pregnancy rates with Egg Donation treatment can reach up to 72% success rates in the first attempt.
To explain, it is an IVF treatment in which the donor’s eggs are fertilised either with the sperm of the couple or with the semen sample of an anonymous sperm donor (this is also known as Double Donation).
Who is a good candidate for donor eggs?
As we mentioned before, egg donation is the perfect treatment option for women unable to have children with their own eggs:
- Women that have gone through several IVF attempts without getting a viable pregnancy.
- Or women with no ovarian function (also known as ovarian failure).
- Advanced maternal age.
- Patients with genetic problems that will not be detected by a Preimplantation Genetic Test, a test that can be performed on embryos before being transferred.
- Or patients that have suffered repeated miscarriages (meaning more than 2 or 3 pregnancy losses before the 24th week of pregnancy) or implantation failures (inability to achieve pregnancy after three or more IVF cycles).
About egg donors: what are the requirements for being an egg donor?
First of all, it is important to note that egg donation in Spain is anonymous and it is well regulated by law. In that same law, all necessary requirements for being a donor are collected. These requirements include different medical analyses that all egg donor candidates must pass before being admitted into our egg donation programme.
At Vida Fertility Institute, we are very thorough with the selection criteria. We go further in our selection than the law stipulates. In fact, only 30% of the candidates who come to our clinic turn out to be the ideal candidate for a donation.
We lay out some data for you here so you can better understand the selection process:
- Firstly, young women come and are of an age between 18 and 35, although in practice our donors are less than 32 years old.
- They must pass a psychological assessment. This allows us to assess the candidate’s mental health and know if the donor is emotionally prepared for the donation.
- We perform medical and gynecological exams with ultrasound examination and pap-smear test. They must test negative in serological test and other additional blood tests, such as karyotype (study of their chromosomes) and genetic tests in order to rule out genetic diseases transmissible to the offspring.
- Adequate Body Mass Index (BMI) that guarantees the donor’s safety during treatment (this is important since it can affect the intaking of medication, egg retrieval procedure and sedation during the procedure too).
- No history of genetic alterations or other hereditary diseases, both personally and in their family.
How will me Egg donation process be?
In Vida we adapt to you day-to-day and your personal circumstances. We will arrange all stages of your treatment without hassles and without adding any additional stress.
- First visit to get to know you. It is very important to study all factors that allow us to perform a complete and accurate diagnosis. This is an essential part in all fertility treatments because there are no standard formulas. We must individualise the action plan for each patient.
- Selection of the appropriate donor is a key moment for our patients. In Vida we are going to select the ideal donor for you. We will look for similarities with your physical characteristics, good fertility levels and health conditions and the positive psychological assessment of the candidate
- Synchronisation with your donor. For this we will use the specific medication that allows the donor’s cycle to synchronise with the patient’s, as well as to adapt everything to your availability.
- Preparing your endometrial lining. The endometrium is your uterus’ internal tissue and its role is to allow the implantation of a fertilised egg (the embryo). You will begin the preparation of your endometrium by used oestrogen medication. This hormone allows to achieve an adequate endometrial thickness so that the implantation of the embryo takes place.
- Donor’s stimulation. While the patient prepares her endometrium, the donor will begin her ovarian stimulation to boost follicular growth and obtain a good number of mature eggs.
- Fertilisation in the laboratory. The obtained mature oocytes are fertilized inside the lab, with the partner’s sperm or from an anonymous donor either because the patient decides to undergo the treatment without a partner or because the man has low quality that may reduce the chances of success.
- Embryo development. Embryos are cultivated in incubators until they have reached the blastocyst stage (day 5 or 6 of embryo development). During cultivation, our embryologists will assess embryo development daily to obtain very valuable information about its morphology, cell division times and other parameters that will help them select the embryo to be transferred.
- Embryo transfer: transferring the best embryo The embryo transfer is preferably performed on day 5 of embryo development, thus increasing implantation rates. This is what we know as blastocyst stage. Embryo selection follows very strict criteria regarding the wuality of the embryos in order to transfer a single embryo, that with the highest quality, to avoid the risk associated with multiple pregnancies and achieve pregnancy in the fewest possible attempts.
- Pregnancy test. Once the transfer is performed, you will be able to lead a normal life following a series of small recommendations. After two weeks we will perform a blood test that will tell us if you are pregnant. This test is commonly known as “beta”, since it measures the level of β-hCG hormone in the blood, which will confirm if pregnancy has been achieved and if it evolves correctly. This test is commonly known as “beta”, since it measures the level of β-hCG hormone in the blood, which will confirm if pregnancy has been achieved and if it evolves correctly.
A hard decision to make
When a women or a couple initiates a fertility treatment with donor’s eggs it is normal that doubts and fears appear. In fact, most of our patients go through different phases before accepting the egg donation process. What is also true is that those who take the step forward recognize that: it is the best decision they have ever made in their life.
Will the baby look like me?
Above all, the resemblance to the mother or future parents is an important issue for our patients. In Vida the donor selection protocols follow rigorous phenotypic similarity criteria, that is to say our physical characteristics and the observable traits of each person
must match ethnicity, skin color, eye color, facial resemblance, height, body structure and blood type.
Renouncing your own genes in order to have a baby causes rejection in many patients. This is known as genetic grief. This feeling of loss appears when the only chance of having a child is thanks to donated gametes (eggs, sperm or embryo).
Have you heard about Epigenetics?
Epigenetics is a branch of biology that studies and defends that during gestation there is a dialogue between the embryo and the maternal endometrium, coming to influence and modifying some traits of the future baby.
The studies in the epigenetic field ensure that the biological mother plays an important role in the way the baby’s genes will develop.
If you have more questions or wish to speak directly to a fertility specialist, please contact us and we will be glad to accompany you.