What is Egg Donation and How Does it Work?


Why Use an Egg Donor?

The most common reason why single women and couples turn to egg donation is poor egg quality due to advanced maternal age. A woman’s egg quality lessens as she ages and significantly declines after age 37.

Who Uses Egg Donation?

  • Couples in which the woman has poor-quality or no eggs, but who want a biological child using the male’s sperm
  • Women with no ovaries but an intact uterus
  • Women with genetic factors that they do not want to pass on to their children
  • Women over the age of 42

There are many things to consider when thinking about using an egg donor. If you have a partner, start by exploring these questions.

Fact: The first known pregnancy achieved with a donated egg occurred in 1984. In 2016, the CDC reported approximately 9,000 births resulting from donor eggs.

Egg Donation Requirements

Egg donors undergo psychological and medical screening, which includes a thorough medical history, physical exam, and ovarian reserve assessment to determine if she is likely to be a good donor candidate. Egg donors are healthy young women, usually between ages 21 and 30.

Egg Donation Process

  1. The egg donor gets hormone injections to induce ovulation of multiple eggs. Women naturally release one egg a month and the injections allow a large number of eggs to mature at the same time. Once her eggs are mature and ready for retrieval, her fertility doctor schedules the procedure.
  2. The egg donor is put under sedation and her doctor uses an ultrasound guided needle inserted into each mature follicle to retrieve each egg. The lab will attempt to fertilize several eggs in a laboratory using the recipient’s partner’s sperm or selected donor sperm. This process is in vitro fertilization (IVF).
  3. An embryo (fertilized egg) is then transferred into the recipient’s uterus.

In a fresh transfer cycle, the donor and the recipient’s cycles are synchronized using medication.

In a frozen transfer, the embryos are frozen and typically transferred at a later time. Frozen transfers are sometimes utilized so that preimplantation genetic screening for aneuploidy (an abnormal number of chromosomes) can be performed.

If successful, the embryo will implant into the uterine lining and develop into a healthy baby.

Egg Donor Cost and Sources

Commercial egg donor agencies recruit, screen, and match healthy donors with couples and individuals. Many infertility clinics also offer donated eggs from couples who have produced excess eggs.

In some cases, the recipient may ask a close friend or relative to donate her eggs. Recipients may choose a fresh egg donation cycle or a frozen egg donation cycle (from a frozen egg bank).

Donors are paid anything from $7,000 to $15,000 on average.

Egg Donation Success Factors

Success depends on many factors including the age of the egg donor, retrieval process, quality of sperm, and the recipient’s overall health.

As with all third-party reproduction processes, recipients should seek counseling to explore emotional concerns and an experienced attorney to protect their, and their potential children’s, rights.

Dr. Tanmoy Mukherjee, a board-certified Gynecologist and Reproductive Endocrinologist, is Associate Director of the Mount Sinai Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and co-director of Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York. He completed his residency at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he received the Leo M. Davidoff Society Award as well as the Schulman Award, and completed his fellowship at Mount Sinai Hospital. The author of numerous journal articles and textbook chapters, Dr. Mukherjee is also the recipient of the prestigious Society of Reproductive Surgeons Award for his extensive research in ovum donation and medical therapy for the treatment of infertility. 

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