Egg donation is a procedure involving a woman providing eggs either for assisted fertility for other women who suffer infertility problems or for medical research purposes. The first thing during egg donation is matching a donor and the recipient after which the necessary legal and preliminary medical criteria are handled to completion. The women involved then start a medical process that is necessary before egg harvesting stage is reached. Typically, the process of egg donation is made up of two phases as explained below.
1. Ovarian hyperstimulation
This is the first step in the egg donation procedure. The donor receives hormonal drugs in specified intervals, which are necessary for causing the ovaries to generate several mature eggs in one menstrual cycle. During a woman’s menstrual cycle, there are several eggs, which start to mature but only one reaches fully maturity. While it is possible for a woman to donate this one mature egg, fertility specialists prefer to administer hormonal drugs to the donors in order to increase the chances of success.
Development of the egg is usually monitored through ultrasound scanning. This procedure allows a picture of the ovaries carrying the eggs to be seen on a television screen. The level of hormones in the blood can also be measured at the same time. When full maturity of the egg is confirmed, the donor and recipient are then taken to the second stage of egg donation procedure; egg retrieval.
2. Egg retrieval
Also known as egg harvesting, this second phase involves removal of mature eggs from the donor to the recipient. This is usually carried out through a surgical procedure known as transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. If you are an egg donor, expect to spend about 60 hours in screening, testing as well as medical appointments during the entire course of the egg donation process. There are some women who choose to donate eggs when they are undergoing sterilization. In such cases, the most frequently used method for sterilization is laparoscopy, which makes any other operative procedure unnecessary when a woman is donating eggs.
As stated earlier, hormonal drugs are usually administered to the donor. These hormonal drugs are of three types:
· Drugs for suppressing the normal menstrual cycle administered using a nasal spray or injection which is given every day for a 28 day cycle.
· Super ovulatory drugs. These are drugs for stimulating the growth as well as maturation of the eggs and are taken using daily tablets or injections. These injections have hormone which naturally stimulate the production of eggs in the ovaries.
· A final hormone injection is given when the results of an ultrasound show that a sufficient number of eggs are about to attain full maturity. It is important to time this injection carefully (34-38 hours before egg harvesting).
While some of these drugs can be taken orally, majority of them should be given through injection. Your doctor can show you how to do it from the comfort of your own home.