How are Eggs Donated?

Egg donations play an important role in treating many fertility illnesses, and the provision of donor eggs is an invaluable service. The donation of eggs, sperm, and embryos is managed by the National Gamete Donation Trust which works closely with the HFEA to provide these much needed cells to fertility clinics across the country.

Who do egg donations benefit?

Egg donations mean a lot to the many couples who are able to make use of them to start their own families. Women who suffer from premature menopause or who have absent or non-functioning ovaries can’t generate their own eggs, and so can make great use of donor eggs. Cancer in particular can damage the ovaries, or more specifically some of the treatments for cancer like chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and if a patient hasn’t had the chance to have their eggs frozen and stored then donor eggs are the only way they can have children.

Inherited diseases can be a difficult question for many parents to be, and many women who are likely to pass on a debilitating genetic illness like Huntington’s or haemophilia opt for the use of donated eggs to avoid passing their illness onto their child. Similarly couples who have recurrent miscarriages and IVF failures can often benefit from using donor eggs. The final group who make use of donor eggs are women in older age groups whose ovaries don’t work as well and who don’t produce many usable eggs.

How are eggs donated?

Before donating, you will be required to have a full pelvic examination, hormone check and tests for infectious diseases. You will also be examined by a psychologist to assess whether you are fit to go through the donation procedure.

You will be on a course of birth control pills to synchronise your cycle with that of the recipient, followed by injections to stop your natural cycle and a course of follicle stimulating drugs to mature the eggs. The eggs are prepared for extraction by giving a human chronic gonadotropin (HCG) injection that loosens the now developed eggs from their follicles to make them more accessible and ensure that the eggs are matured. The HCG injection will be given 36 hours before the eggs are retrieved.

Now that the eggs are prepared for extraction you will undergo a trans-vaginal procedure, this involves the eggs being physically extracted using a fine needle guided by ultrasound (you will be under aesthetic whilst this procedure takes place to prevent pain, but you will be awake). The long sharp needle will puncture each follicle, going through the vaginal wall and into the ovary. Mild suction will suck fluid up through the hollow needle where it will be examined to find eggs, if an egg cannot be found at first the follicles will be flushed in order to rinse the egg out. Once the eggs have been retrieved they will be incubated.

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