How Does Egg Donation Work?

What is Involved in the Egg Donation Process?

Ovarian Stimulation

Once approved, donors undergo hormone treatments to stimulate their ovaries to increase egg production – a process similar to what women undergoing fertility treatments experience. Your age and healthy reproductive system work in your favor, so the process is well controlled, safe, and relatively straightforward.

  • Injections of the natural hormones FSH and/or LH (gonadotropins) are used to cause a group of eggs to develop to maturity.
  • Additional medications are used to prevent premature ovulation.
  • An overly vigorous ovarian response can occur, or conversely an inadequate response.

“Fertility drugs” are used to stimulate the ovary in hopes of inducing the simultaneous growth of several oocytes (eggs) over the span of 8 or more days. Monitoring of your ovaries’ response by ultrasound is important. A typical pattern of office visits is shown below:

Office visits

This process does not cause you to run out of eggs sooner in the future. The eggs that are induced to grow by these medications were already ‘linked’ to this cycle and would have been lost anyway had they not been induced to grow.

Egg Retrieval

  • Eggs are removed from the ovary with a needle under ultrasound guidance
  • Anesthesia is provided to make this comfortable
  • Complications are rare

A transvaginal ultrasound probe is used to visualize the ovaries and the egg-containing follicles within the ovaries. A long needle is guided into each follicle and the contents aspirated. The aspirated material includes the egg.

For the egg donor, the retrieval is the last step. In about 2 weeks, your normal period will begin, and by that time your ovaries will often be back to normal size.

Egg Storage

You are donating to freeze your eggs, the recipient is not yet identified at the time your eggs are frozen thus they are frozen and stored to be used by one or more individuals to have a baby in the future. Your eggs then become the property of the Recipient, to be used by her for procreation. When your eggs are thawed, sperm are placed with your eggs, and one or two of the resulting embryos are transferred into the uterus of the recipient. Extra embryos that are created by the Recipient can be frozen for later use.