Egg donation is a process in which a fertile woman known as donor gives her eggs or oocyte to another woman called recipient to allow the recipient to conceive. It is a part of assisted reproductive technology (ART). It is similar to sperm donation, which give an infertile couple a ray of hope to have a child when they are not able to use their own eggs as part of in vitro fertilization. Women may opt for egg donation because they carry a genetic condition that they do not want to pass on to their children, they are unable to produce their own eggs due to some health complications such as ovarian failure or unable to produce eggs due to advanced age.
Before egg donation, the donor must be given medications that will cause her to develop multiple eggs over a single cycle. The eggs are extracted from the donor by placing a needle that is connected to an ultrasound probe through the vaginal tissues. The eggs are then softly drawn out (evacuated) from the ovaries. The eggs are evaluated by an embryologist, once they are removed. Then sperm from the male partner or from a sperm bank is placed around each extracted eggs. This process is known as vitro fertilization (IVF).
Egg donation is difficult to accept for many religions, cultures and individuals, but others consider it as only possible way of enabling infertile couples to have a child that is genetically related to the father, and that is developed in the mother’s body, although it is not genetically related to her. The rules and regulations about egg donation vary around the world. SCI IVF Hospital and Multispecialty Center in Delhi offer egg donation under the guidance of Dr Shivani Sachdev Gour.
Who can benefit from egg donation?
Women who are unable to produce their own eggs may consider donated eggs that are fertilized by their partner’s sperm in the process of in vitro fertilization. Her body is prepared for pregnancy in the similar way, and the blastocysts or embryos are transferred using the same methods and she can have the pregnancy and birth. The child is the biological offspring of the man whose sperm has been used but not of the woman and therefore the couples must consider carefully before they go ahead with egg donation as part of their fertility treatment. Women may go for egg donation if they are unable to produce their own eggs. This can occur for several reasons:
- Cancer treatment: Treatment for leukaemia in childhood, drug treatment, possibly radiotherapy and involvement in chemotherapy that can lead to failure of the ovaries.
- Premature menopause or premature ovarian failure (POF): This condition is rather not common, but approximately one in a hundred women experience premature menopause (when their periods stop and they no longer ovulate eggs) before the age of 40. Only one in a thousand women experience premature menopause before the age of 30 or some in their late teens. This may occur well before the woman concerned has even thought of having a child, so there are no chances of storing her own eggs.
- A congenital condition: One in 2500 women are born with Turner’s syndrome, a genetic disorder in which they can’t able to produce any eggs at all. Egg donation is only way to have a children for such women.