Baystate’s donor egg program has been helping families grow since 1995.The success rates for donor egg IVF are directly related to the age of the eggs. Therefore, if the eggs from a fertile 22 year old woman are used in a cycle where the recipient is 45, the success rates are consistent with those of a 22 year old woman, which is high. Our program currently limits the maximum age of the donor egg recipient to 47 years.
Donor egg IVF is being performed much more frequently than in the past. Infertility specialists are seeing an increase in female infertility, partly due to changes in societal goals. With the freedom provided by family planning, education, and career choices, many women are waiting until their late thirties to marry and start a family. Unfortunately, nature does not recognize these societal changes. As women age, their chances of having infertility issues increases.
Women are born with a lifetime supply of eggs within their ovaries. Ovaries contain 1-2 million eggs at birth and approximately 300,000 to 400,000 at puberty. Every month during the ovulatory cycle, one or more of these eggs are recruited and develop under the influence of follicle stimulating hormone (FSH).
Declining egg quality is a “natural process” that culminates in menopause. Many women prematurely enter menopause in their thirties and some as early as their twenties. This condition is termed premature ovarian failure (or primary ovarian insufficiency). Women in their late 30’s or 40’s, or those with abnormally high FSH levels, should be evaluated by a board certified reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist as soon as possible. Some women may have very little time to achieve pregnancy using their own eggs before donor egg IVF may be required.
Donor egg IVF is often the only option for women with poor quality, or low numbers of, eggs. Before donor egg IVF the only option for most of these women was adoption. Donor egg IVF allows a woman to experience the joy of carrying a baby and birth. When the partner’s sperm is used, the child is genetically related to him. Donor egg IVF can also be conducted using donor sperm.
Donor egg IVF may be a first line treatment in some cases. In rare cases, a woman may be born with no ovaries. Absence of the ovaries or prior surgical removal of ovaries are indications for donor egg. In some cases, genetic disease present in the recipient can be an indication for donor egg IVF. However, with the advent of PGD, embryos can be screened for many genetic diseases prior to transfer to the uterus.
Donor Egg Program- Treatments
Eggs from young healthy extensively screened donors are used. The details of egg donor qualifications can be reviewed on the “Becoming an Egg Donor” page.
The egg donor undergoes ovarian stimulation to produce numerous eggs. The donor comes to our office during the stimulation for monitoring. Once the eggs mature, they are retrieved and combined with the male recipient’s or donor’s sperm. Once fertilized, the embryos are transferred to incubators where they mature usually for 3-5 days.
The recipient uses progesterone and estrogen, to synchronize her cycle with the egg donor’s cycle. These hormone medications prepare the endometrium to accept an implanting embryo. After incubation, the embryos are transferred to the recipient female's uterus.
DONOR EGG PROCESS FOR RECIPIENTS
- Donor egg recipients undergo evaluation and counseling, to include:
- Consulting with one of our infertility specialists to discuss all procedures.
- Meeting with a donor egg nurse coordinator who explains the treatment process, coordinates any required testing, and discusses the use of medications.
- Meeting with a mental health professional in the Donor Egg Program for counseling concerning the emotional aspects of egg donation.
- Meeting with a financial coordinator to discuss insurance coverage and financial responsibilities. In some cases, insurance may cover some of the expenses for the donor egg cycle.
Recipients receive Egg donor profiles which provide them with non-identifying information about the donor. Sometimes a “known” donor is used who may be a family member or close friend. Once the donor profile is accepted, the donor and recipient synchronization process begins.