Before the remarkable advancements in reproductive medicine and the development of IVF (in-vitro fertilisation), women with diminished ovarian reserve, premature ovarian failure or hereditary and genetically transmitted diseases had no available option if they wanted to become pregnant and start a family. One of the treatments that has helped thousands of couples that have come to the Cyprus IVF Centre, is egg donation. Here are all the what’s and why’s you need to know about it.
Who is a Suitable Candidate for Donor Egg ?
Egg donation was, at first, originally provided for women whose menopause started well before the normal time, meaning before they turned 40 years of age. This is a condition called premature ovarian failure (POF) and was the primary indication for egg donation. Today, POF affects about 1 in 100 women, whereby the number and quality of their eggs is dropping and the ovarian function gradually halts. However, it should be noted that since there are various causes of POF, it’s important to undergo a thorough medical evaluation to identify possible underlying conditions before receiving any sort of fertility treatment.
In recent years, though, the primary indication for egg donation is for women with reduced ovarian reserve, even if they experience no problems with the function of their ovaries. It is widely known that there is an age-related decline in fertility in women over 40 years old, due to the aging of the eggs, which, in turns, leads to poorer chances for IVF success. But, having diminished ovarian reserve is not only experienced by women in their 40s. We have treated many younger patients whose fertility evaluation has revealed increased follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and/or estradiol levels in their menstrual cycle; both strong indications of POF or early menopause (note: when the ovaries stop producing enough estrogen, your FSH level rises and prepares the body to enter menopause). In this case, the woman’s own eggs will most likely not lead to a viable pregnancy.
In short, candidates suitable for egg donation are women:
- That have experienced multiple failed IVF attempts.
- With a transmittable genetic disease that could be passed on to the child (although this could also be ruled out with the use of Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis or PGD).
- With POF or reduced ovarian reserve.
- Repeated miscarriages attributed to problems with the embryo.
- Has fertility problems that are the result of medical treatment.
Donor Egg Options
There are two options offered at the Cyprus IVF Centre, egg donation only or a tandem cycle. In the first case, we collect the donor eggs and fertilise them with the husband’s sperm. With a tandem cycle, we synchronise the egg donor with the recipient so that we can collect both sets of eggs on the same day. All mature eggs are fertilised with the husband’s sperm and the best embryos are selected for transfer.
The Cyprus IVF Centre Egg Donor Program
One of the biggest concerns when discussing using donor eggs is with regards to the medical condition of the donor, who could even be a family member or a friend. Dr. Firdevs personally screens every potential donors and has them undergo a rigorous testing procedure to make sure the required standards are met. They are all tested for genetic and infectious diseases (i.e. IgG, Anti-HIV, and HbsAg), and also undergo hormone tests and karyotyping. That aside, we have other screening procedures that take place every 2 months.
Every donor selected is no older than 25 years of age (and no younger than 20) and is a proven donor. This means that they have already donated their eggs that helped establish a successful pregnancy. With a guaranteed pool of 10-20 high-quality eggs harvested from each donor per cycle, we have managed to elevate the success rates of our patients significantly.
Important Note: In European countries and overseas, the egg (and sperm) donor program are not anonymous, which could lead to serious problems in the future, should the person providing the genetic material, be it the eggs or sperm sample, wishes to have any sort of contact or relationship with the offspring. Our donor program is completely anonymous and confidential not only for you but also the donor. This means that the donor will never be provided with any information related to the recipient of their eggs or the outcome of their donation. Also, any children born with donor eggs will also be given no donor information. Our experience has shown that most couples don’t want to tell their children about having received donor eggs to conceive. We respect their will and for that reason we provide them with utmost confidentiality.
How do we Select our Egg Donors ?
Our potential donors are asked to provide information about their physical health, height, weight, age, nationality, color of their eyes and hair, occupation, and level of education, so we can create a shortlist. Then, we give that shortlist to our patients, who choose the donor themselves based on their own criteria.
Steps Included: From First Consultation to Embryo Transfer
- Contacting Team Miracle’s patient coordinators will give you all the details of what the treatment will involve so you can make an informed decision. Then, a medical information form should be completed, where we will require your full medical history. Dr. Firdevs will also need some recent photographs of you so that she can match you with the most suitable donor that also looks as much like you as possible, and, of course, determine the right treatment plan.
- Once you have selected the egg donor of your preferences, they will be reserved specifically for you, meaning they won’t donate any eggs before you receive your treatment.
- Using fresh donor eggs requires you to take medications (see below) to prepare the uterus for the upcoming pregnancy. When you arrive at Cyprus IVF Centre, you will be assigned a patient coordinator.
- Then, you will meet with Dr. Firdevs, who will perform a trans-vaginal ultrasound to check the condition of the lining of the uterus. If the endometrium is of the desired thickness, we’ll collect the eggs from the donor and you will begin additional medication. At the same day of the collection of eggs, your partner will also be asked to produce a sperm sample (3 days abstinence is recommended).
- The fertilisation of the egg with your partner’s sperm to create your embryos comes next. To do so, Dr. Firdevs uses ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), which maximises your chances of having viable embryos and is offered without any extra charges.
- After ICSI takes place, the eggs are kept inside our premier incubators for 24 hours, before they are assessed by our embryologist to determine whether fertilisation has occurred. The embryos are left to develop for another 3-5 days with minimal contact to avoid any temperature and humidity changes that could affect their development. If you opt to use the EmbryoScope time lapse imaging incubator, you will receive daily updates.
- Embryo transfer takes place on either day 3 or day 5 of embryo development (depending on the case), where we will take the best embryos from those available, as mentioned above, and place them into the uterus.
If you opt to use donor eggs, you will have to take medications. We’ll send the prescriptions to you, and we also have partner UK-based pharmacies where you can order the medications online from and have them delivered to your door no matter where you live.
An oral contraceptive can help regulate your menstrual cycle and sync it with the donor’s cycle. As for the medication you will need to take before arriving with Team Miracle at Cyprus IVF Centre varies per case, If, for example, you are menopausal, we might prescribe oral estradiol tablets for 10-12 days to help prepare the uterus for the forthcoming pregnancy by thickening its lining. If you still have periods, we will most likely prescribe one Gonapeptyl Depot injection to help reduce the estrogen and progesterone levels in your body, before we give Estradiol or we may use Cetrotide injections to control the ovulation date.
Other medications that might be needed include antibiotics, blood thinning injections and prednisolone steroid tablets.
What to Avoid
You can go back to your everyday routine the very next day without any hesitation. However, you should be careful not to expose your body to activities that could increase your core temperature, such as hot showers or saunas, as you will be causing distress to the uterus. Also, refrain from having sex for 2 weeks and continue taking the medication prescribed for you.
When to Have a Pregnancy Test
About 12 days after the embryo transfer, you can have a HCG blood test. If all goes well, you will feel your heart pounding with joy. We will let you know what to do from then on!
For any questions or clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact Team Miracle. Our patient coordinators will guide you through the treatment program and will be there to advise and help.