For Egg Donors

The Egg Donation Process

Egg donation is a fertility treatment that helps men and women experience the joys of family.

During the egg donation process, the donor's cycle is matched with the recipient's fertility cycle to prepare for egg retrieval. Once the retrieval is complete, the eggs are combined with the male's sperm in a laboratory dish to achieve fertilization in a process called in vitro fertilization (IVF). The resulting embryos are then placed in the recipient's uterus with the goal of establishing a pregnancy.

San Diego Fertility Center has a highly professional egg donation program that meets all of the standards and criteria set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Our initial egg donor application is a very simple process that is 100% confidential, with the identities of the donor and the recipient remaining anonymous throughout the entire egg donation process.

We have provided a full explanation of the process used to stimulate and collect eggs for donation below. Egg donor applicants are encouraged to contact us if you have any questions for our staff about becoming an egg donor.

OVARIAN STIMULATION

To prepare the body for egg donation, advanced reproductive technology (ART) and various hormonal medications are used alone or in combination with others, to stimulate the development of ovarian follicles. This is known as "superovulation" or "controlled ovarian stimulation" (COS).

These medications are administered for two reasons, (a) to enhance the growth and maturation of as many follicles as possible, thereby improving chances for fertilization and development, and, (b) to control the timing of ovulation so eggs can be retrieved before they are spontaneously released.

Hormonal medications are administered for nine to twelve days; the doses may be adjusted during the cycle depending upon follicle growth. Follicle growth is carefully monitored using laboratory tests (estrogen levels), ultrasound, and physical examination. When, in the physician's judgment, follicular development has reached the stage where an optimum number of eggs will be produced without untoward effects, hCG will be administered to trigger ovulation. Egg retrieval will be scheduled within 34 to 36 hours after hCG administration.

These medications have been used for over twenty years to treat women who do not ovulate regularly. As with any medication, side effects are a possibility and should be discussed with your physician. The effects most commonly reported include allergic sensitivity, and pain, irritation, or swelling at the injection site. Occasionally, over-stimulation of the ovaries may occur. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) generally causes enlargement of the ovaries accompanied by abdominal discomfort and/or pain. In severe cases, additional symptoms may require hospitalization of the patient. There appears to be no increased incidence of birth defects, congenital abnormalities or spontaneous miscarriages associated with the use of these medications. For the recipient parent, there is an increased possibility of multiple births when more than one egg is transferred.

MONITORING

ART cycles are monitored in two ways: by ultrasound and by blood hormone test. Monitoring is necessary in order to assess the growth and development of the follicles and to avoid the possibility of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.

Serial ultrasounds are used to follow follicle growth in the ovary beginning at approximately cycle day eight and on a regular basis thereafter. The ultrasound unit sends out high frequency wave signals that reflect or "bounce" off the structure in the pelvis and are translated into images on a TV like monitor. The procedure is essentially painless. The patient may feel the pressure of the transducer on her abdomen or in her vagina, however, she cannot feel or hear the sound waves nor have there been any harmful effects to the developing eggs or early pregnancy demonstrated from ultrasound.

Through ultrasound, the physician can obtain an actual image of a woman's ovaries and can clearly identify, count and even measure the fluid filled follicles as they develop. As the follicles get larger, the ultrasound also provides an indicator of approaching ovulation.

Blood tests to measure hormone levels are also performed, in conjunction with and on essentially the same basis as the ultrasound. As follicles develop, they secrete increasing amounts of the hormone estrogen, specifically estradiol (E2). Concentration of E2 in the blood indicates the degree of response to ovarian stimulation. In general, the higher the E2, the more follicles are developing.

EGG RECOVERY

Egg recovery is accomplished by an ultrasound-directed procedure. This is a minor surgical procedure and can be performed under local anesthesia. A small aspiration needle is placed through the upper part of the vagina directly into the ovary. The ultrasound image allows the physician to accurately guide the needle into each follicle for egg retrieval.