More than 150,000 women in the United States cannot bear children because of ovarian problems. Many women do not produce eggs, have had their ovaries removed, have had radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer that destroyed their ovarian function, or have dysfunctional ovaries and are no longer producing high quality eggs. Other women have deferred pregnancy until their late thirties or forties. Since the ovaries age at such dramatically different rates in different women, while some conceive quickly, others are no longer able to conceive using their own eggs and require donated eggs to conceive. Egg donation is a treatment that uses sperm to fertilize eggs donated by an anonymous female donor, and is followed by transfer of the fertilized egg into the female patient’s (recipient’s) uterus. The success rate for IVF using donor egg is high - above 50% using fresh embryos- and relatively constant regardless of age of the recipient, and is therefore a great option for a woman with compromised egg quality.
Patients requiring egg donation at Manhattan Fertility Center are entered into Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York’s Egg Donation Program. Potential donors are rigorously screened for medical and psychological conditions; because of the stringent eligibility criteria, only a very small percentage of applicants actually qualify to become a donor. Though the process is anonymous and the identity of the donor is never revealed, the egg donation team matches the donor to the recipient with the specific attributes requested by the recipient. Once the donor is matched and is cleared to commence the donation process, she will start her cycle of IVF medication so that several of her eggs mature. The recipient will take separate medication in order to increase the lining of her uterus to help the implantation process. When the eggs of the donor mature, they are aspirated from the sedated donor and taken into the embryology laboratory, where skilled embryologists combine the eggs with the sperm of the partner or a sperm donor. If healthy embryos result, typically one or two are transferred back into the uterus of the recipient several days later while any residual healthy embryos can be frozen for a future IVF cycle. The recipient then waits 10-14 days to determine if the procedure is successful and she is pregnant.