Egg donation is useful for many conditions including: Women entering an early menopause or those in the older age group with poor ovarian reserve.
A surprising number of young women suffer a premature menopause which means that their ovaries no longer produce eggs. Their ovaries do not make follicles and therefore do not produce oestrogen. This condition – which is mostly of unknown cause – can happen as early as the age of 20. Until IVF, there was no treatment for these young menopausal women. Egg donation has proved revolutionary.
Egg donors have to go through the IVF process, having their ovaries stimulated and undergoing egg collection. They will always be subject to a number of blood tests and possibly genetic screening to make certain that they are healthy. Once eggs are obtained, they can be fertilized with the sperm of the recipient’s partner and the embryos transferred to the woman’s uterus.
Interestingly recipients who are totally menopausal may have a better chance of success of pregnancy with egg donation than women whose ovaries are still active.
Here is an overview of cases where egg donation might be considered as part of fertility treatment:
Many women who need donor eggs will not be having periods unless they are on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). This means that their endometrium is very thin so it may be necessary to stimulate the uterus with oestrogen and progesterone to create an artificial menstrual cycle. Because most women who cannot produce eggs are not producing enough oestrogen, they usually are given hormones to stimulate the uterine lining enough for an embryo to implant. Once collected the donor eggs are fertilised with the partner’s sperm and embryos are transferred to the recipient’s artificially stimulated uterus. HRT may be needed until pregnancy is established. Thereafter, the pregnancy itself will provide sufficient hormones to ensure safe development.
Oddly, egg donation cycles are more likely to be successful than routine IVF treatments. In selected patients donor cycles can be as much as double the usual IVF pregnancy rate. This is because the donors are usually both fertile and young so much more likely to implant. Another reason why egg donation is so successful may be because recipients are not exposed to the drugs used to stimulate the ovaries in a routine IVF cycle. Instead, she is given precisely the right amount of hormone to encourage the best uterine development.
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