The Basics of Using an Egg Donor: IVF Process, Costs, and Success Rates

Fertility treatments such as in-vitro fertilization and egg donation (egg donor IVF or donor egg IVF) allow many individuals and couples to start or expand their family size regardless of their fertility and health status. A 2016 Center for Disease Control and Prevention survey revealed that donor eggs were used in 24,300 Assisted Reproduction Technology (ART) cycles.

Although the success rate of donor egg IVF procedures varies, the average success rate of live births utilizing this procedure is 49-50%. Your odds of succeeding in using donor eggs are higher when you follow specific steps and consult a fertility specialist. Our team has compiled a few guidelines to help you with the donor egg IVF procedure.

This article will teach you more about egg donor IVF, the process of how donor eggs and IVF work, and the procedure’s benefits and success rates.

What is Egg Donation?

Egg donation is the process in which a donor (female) contributes her eggs to a recipient for conception purposes. At RGI, our egg donors undergo thorough physical and psychological screenings. These screening tests help to ascertain the egg donor’s health status and suitability for the egg donation journey before matching with recipients.

After an egg donor passes the critical screening steps to confirm their eligibility, she will undergo the process to retrieve eggs. First, the donor will take medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. Egg donors then undergo an egg retrieval to obtain the eggs available for use by another individual or couple.

Eventually, the eggs are fertilized in the lab through in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization is the process in which the eggs are exposed to sperm resulting in the development of an embryo in a culture medium in the laboratory. This embryo will then be placed in the recipient’s uterus to result in pregnancy.

Who Benefits From Egg Donation/Donor Egg?

single dad after using egg donor IVF to have babyThe egg donation process is suitable for individuals and couples who want to start a family but cannot for various reasons.

The egg donation process is recommended in the following clinical cases:

  • older females with infertility
  • single males who have a gestational carrier (surrogate)
  • gay male couples
  • those with a high risk of transmitting a genetic disease
  • females with low ovarian reserves and primary ovarian insufficiency
  • females with damaged ovaries due to cancer treatment
  • unexplained recurrent IVF failure

Apart from these indications, the fertility doctor will evaluate your unique health needs to determine if you will benefit from egg donation.

What Is the Process of Egg Donation?

Pre-donation Screening

young woman becoming an egg donor to help another family talking to doctorFertility doctors use specific guidelines stipulated by the law to screen egg donors in a fertility clinic. U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines recommend the following screening procedures for egg donors:

The egg donation process occurs in phases and has both medical and legal procedures to protect the donor and recipient. Here are the typical steps of the egg donation process.

  • formal application
  • in-person or phone interview
  • clinical and psychological history to discover the donor’s medical and family history
  • physical examination
  • blood tests such as HIV, etc, for infectious disease screening
  • drug tests
  • ultrasound scan to examine the female reproductive organs
  • genetic testing to screen for inherited disease

These screening procedures help to confirm the eligibility and health status of the prospective egg donor.

Legal Procedure

The law regulates the egg donation process and helps to protect both parties involved. Generally, the donor and recipient may opt for legal counsel before the egg donation process. Sometimes, a lawyer helps mediate the legal procedures, such as verifying and witnessing contract signing. For instance, some egg donation clinics require all donors to sign a contract. This contract will typically state that the donors do not have any legal rights or responsibilities to a child resulting from the process.

The Treatment Phase

The fertility specialist will use specific fertility drugs to prepare the egg donor. While on these medications, fertility experts monitor the donor closely, stimulating her ovaries to make several eggs in a single cycle. Once the ovaries appear ready, a medication to induce the maturity of the eggs is administered at a precise time relative to the egg retrieval procedure. During this phase, egg donors remain abstinent from sexual intercourse to eliminate pregnancy risk for the egg donor.

Egg Retrieval

On the retrieval day, the donor will receive anesthesia medications, often through the IV. Then the doctor will use ultrasound guidance to insert a needle through the vagina and into the ovary to extract the eggs from the matured follicles. Extracted eggs are cryopreserved until they are used by a recipient for in vitro fertilization.

How Do Donor Eggs and IVF Work?

couple talking to fertility specialist about using an egg donor and IVFThe in vitro fertilization process takes place after eggs are retrieved from the donor. The sperm donor or intended parent will provide the semen specimen, which will be used to fertilize the mature eggs.

Fertilization can occur in two ways;

  • Conventional insemination: Healthy matured eggs are exposed to sperm cells in the culture medium to allow fertilization.
  • Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI). In ICSI, a sperm cell is injected directly into each mature egg. ICSI is ideal for clinical cases of low sperm count or repeated history of failed IVF.

After successful fertilization, the embryo grows in the culture medium in the lab. The fertility expert transfers the embryo into the intended parent or gestational carrier’s uterus for implantation.

How Much Do Donor Eggs and IVF Cost?

The cost of egg donation varies depending on the source of the donor eggs. Couples can get egg donors from the following sources:

  • Egg donor agencies: These are specialized commercial egg donation agencies that recruit, screen, and match healthy egg donors with interested couples.
  • Infertility clinics: Some have a bank of frozen eggs harvested from past clients.
  • Specific individuals: A couple can choose a close relative or friend as their egg donor.

The cost of the invitro fertilization process differs for each fertility clinic. The average cost of egg donation will range between $10,000- $15,000. This could be more if it is a fresh egg donation process versus frozen donor eggs, which are typically less expensive.

According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the average cost for one in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle is more than $12,000. This cost is in addition to the cost of an egg donor.

What Are the Success Rates of Donor Egg + IVF?

mom holds newborn baby after using fertility treatment egg donor IVFThe success rate of egg donation and in vitro fertilization differs from clinic to clinic. The recent Center for Disease Control fertility report states that close to 50% of donor eggs and in vitro fertilization result in a live birth.

The success rate of egg donation and IVF also depends on the following:

  • egg donor’s age
  • extraction process
  • quality of sperm,
  • recipient’s health status

Hence, it is important to consult a fertility expert with a proven track record of successful egg donation and IVF.

Do You Need Help With Egg Donation and IVF?

Egg donation and IVF help couples to start or expand their family size regardless of their health or fertility status. Egg donation and IVF are safe and suitable for LBGTQ+ couples and heterosexual couples struggling with fertility. The egg donation process involves multiple steps and requires expert guidance from an experienced team of fertility experts.

At Reproductive Gynecology and Infertility, we have years of experience helping build families through IVF and donor eggs. Our state-of-the-art IVF technology solution has helped partners achieve their dreams of having a beautiful family.

We have a team of industry-leading fertility physicians and assisted reproductive technology professionals to assist you. Schedule an appointment with us to get started on your family-building journey.