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How to Pick an Egg Donor

Learn how to pick an egg donor in this Howcast video about infertility.


One of the most important services that a fertility specialist can offer a couple is egg donation. There are many situations in which egg donation is required. Many women do not have eggs of their own, or have such a low number of eggs, or a very, very low number of low quality eggs, that fertility is not possible using their own eggs. This is common in cases in which women have undergone ovarian surgery, specifically for disease like endometriosis or ovarian cysts, or even benign tumors of the ovary. There are also cases in which woman just have a low number because they've gotten older and their egg supply has diminished significantly. In those cases in the past, adoption was the only option. But now, egg donation is an excellent option.

Choosing an egg donor requires the help of the fertility specialist and of the staff in the fertility center that are designated specifically for this purpose. Egg donors are generally chosen using a specific agency that works with donors or the practice themselves. Young egg donors are the ones that are most attractive for couples trying to achieve pregnancy. Young age generally equates to a higher number of high quality eggs. Egg donors should be healthy, should have regular menstrual cycles, and if possible even have proven fertility themselves.

When a couple is interested in egg donation, they fill out a questionnaire that is very detailed indicating what they'd be looking for in an egg donor. Questions would include racial preference, ethnicity, sometimes religious background, special interests in hobbies, height, hair color, and other physical characteristics. Once a couple chooses a donor, the physician meets with that donor and does an extensive medical evaluation of the donor including hormonal assessment to determine if the donor is, in fact, a good candidate to donate eggs. Once an egg donor is chosen, the donor and the recipient are both put on birth control pills and typically another medication to synchronize the cycles together.

Once the donor is ready to start stimulation medications, she is followed for several days on the medications to determine when it's best to retrieve those eggs. At the same time that this is occurring, the recipient woman is receiving hormones to prepare her uterus for implantation. On the day that the eggs are retrieved from the donor, the partner's sperm is used to fertilize the eggs, and a few days later those fertilized eggs, now known as embryos, are transferred into the recipient woman's uterus. Egg donation is a critical service to be provided by fertility specialists. Speak to your physician about the use of egg donation in your case.

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