There are certain conditions which may prevent a couple from achieving pregnancy even with the use of advanced In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) techniques. If the egg reserve or sperm supply is significantly diminished, absent, or unusable, a third-party donor can help to overcome the obstacle and allow the infertile couple to become parents. At Fertility Centers of Illinois, serving the greater Chicago, Illinois area, egg donation or donated sperm are available for patients who are unable to provide their own.
A woman who has a condition such as premature ovarian failure or low ovarian reserve may need a donor egg in order to become pregnant. IVF with egg donation is also an option for a woman who carries a genetic disease that she wishes to avoid passing on to her child. The IVF process using donor eggs is similar to standard IVF, with a few slight variations.
Prior to being accepted to the egg donation program, a potential donor must undergo a full physical exam (including pap smear), psychological screening and counseling, and comprehensive testing for genetic conditions, infectious diseases, and substance abuse. A woman who is preparing to be the recipient of a donor egg must also be examined to be sure that she does not have a psychiatric disorder, serious chronic illness, or a substance abuse problem, and to confirm that she is healthy enough to carry a pregnancy to term.
The egg donation process begins with the matching of a donor and a recipient. Although egg donors are generally anonymous and the criteria for matching are primarily medical, the recipient will be given the opportunity to specify certain traits that she would prefer her egg donor to have. We will link you with our third party donor egg coordinator after you meet with our clinical psychologist, Marie Davidson, PhD (no charge) to address all concerns and questions. We will also set you up with one of several donor egg recruiters who will work closely with you to select a suitable egg donor. Couples match up race, religion, ethnic group, and physical characteristics. Once the pair is matched, the next step is cycle synchronization.
In order for IVF with egg donation to be possible, it is necessary to synchronize the menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient so that once the donor eggs are retrieved and fertilized they can be immediately transferred to the uterus of the recipient. This involves the use of medications to suppress the body's natural hormone functions and fertility drugs to produce the desired effects in a controlled and predictable manner.
When the two women's cycles are in synch, the egg donor will begin receiving ovarian stimulation medications to promote the development and maturation of multiple eggs. Once the oocytes are ready to be collected, the egg donation process is similar to a basic in vitro fertilization procedure. The eggs are retrieved through a transvaginal ultrasound-guided aspiration and are then combined with the sperm sample from the recipient's partner. When embryonic development is confirmed, one or two of the embryos are transferred to the recipient's uterus, and any remaining embryos can be cryopreserved for later use.
After embryo placement, the donor egg recipient will continue to receive hormone treatment (estrogen and progesterone) to encourage normal development of the endometrium and embryo. If pregnancy is confirmed, hormonal support will continue for four to six weeks and then be tapered off as the body takes over. If pregnancy does not take place, hormonal treatment will be stopped and the cycle will come to an end. Many recipient couples will have extra frozen embryos that can be used in the future.
Artificial insemination with donor sperm is an option for women who do not have a male partner and for those whose partners suffer from severe forms of male factor infertility. We work with a number of reputable sperm banks that follow the standards and procedures for screening, storage, and transportation that are recommended by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (asrm.org).
To ensure the safety of our patients, all donated sperm must be appropriately tested, cryopreserved, and quarantined before use. While the quality of sperm itself is not affected by the freezing process, cryopreservation does sometimes affect the fertility potential of sperm. Therefore, the average number of cycles necessary to achieve conception with frozen sperm is slightly higher than that of insemination with fresh sperm.
If you live in or around the Chicago, Illinois area and are interested in egg donation or want to know more about our donor egg program, please contact Laurence Jacobs, M.D.