How Donor Eggs Are Collected From Donors

Thanks to medical advances and technology, it is possible today to give one of the greatest gifts possible: an egg donation that will allow another woman – who is unable to conceive with her own eggs – to get pregnant and have the family she dreams of.

In this article, we learn more about the medical advances and technology, as well as the amazing process, that make it possible to collect eggs for donation.

Not many people know why egg donation is necessary, and even fewer people know about the medical advances and technology that makes it possible.

Why are egg donations necessary?

Egg donations are in great demand from growing numbers of couples worldwide who are unable to conceive with their own eggs.

Their inability to conceive naturally with their own eggs can be due to many reasons, including poor quality eggs or even the absence of eggs, due to issues such as cancer or cancer treatment, advanced maternal age (33+) and ovaries that are not functioning.

Many of these couples face long waiting lists and are desperate to receive a donation of healthy eggs, which will give them a chance to fall pregnant through the amazing technology behind in vitro fertilisation or IVF treatment.

What makes egg donation possible?

Egg donation became possible due to an amazing advance in medical technology in the late 1970s called in vitro fertilisation or IVF. It involves technologies such as hormone medications, ultrasound guidance, light anaesthetic and minimally invasive techniques.

In the simplest terms, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) can be described as a woman’s “eggs being extracted, then fertilized in a laboratory [in a glass dish or ‘in vitro’], and returned to the uterus”.

This simple description hides the true advanced complexity of the process. During IVF treatment, eggs are retrieved from the female partner’s ovary. Outside of her body, in a lab, these retrieved eggs are mixed with sperm to become fertilised. One or two fertilised eggs, called embryos, are then placed back in the women’s uterus three to five days after the fertilisation, where one will hopefully implant and become a pregnancy.
IVF treatment was originally created as a treatment for women who could not fall pregnant as their eggs could not be fertilised naturally in the body due to damaged or missing fallopian tubes. Now, however, this fertility treatment is used to address many fertility challenges in the female and male partners.

One of these fertility challenge for which IVF offers an effective treatment is poor quality eggs or no eggs. IVF enables healthy, young women to donate healthy, good quality eggs to be used in the IVF process by women whose own eggs cannot be used. The process of retrieving the eggs from the egg donor is the same as the process for an IVF patient using her own eggs. It is also the same process used to retrieve eggs for egg freezing, in cases where a woman needs to preserve her eggs for the future, for example, before reaching advance maternal age or before cancer treatment.

Egg retrieval technology

Egg retrieval process allow specialists to collect a few eggs from kind-hearted donors from the many eggs that are recruited each month and then lost in the monthly menstrual cycle as described below.

At the very beginning of your cycle every single month, a number of eggs are ‘recruited’ from your ovaries, which contain all the hundreds of thousands of eggs you will ever have.

All these potential little eggs show up in follicles, which are little black balloons full of fluid on the ovary. Most of the eggs recruited will not mature and will wither away, and only one egg will grow and ovulate. So, although you might ovulate only one egg, several eggs are recruited with every menstrual cycle.

It is these potential eggs recruited in a cycle that are collected during the egg retrieval process.

Advanced medication

To ensure a fair number of eggs can recruited in a procedure, egg donors are provided with medication for roughly 10 days which stimulates all the little follicles to grow, not just the one that will be ovulated. Taking this medicine requires a self-administered injection that is very easy to do and is not very painful at all.

At the same time, you will also take medication that prevents you from ovulating those eggs. In addition, during the roughly 10 days of medication, you will also undergo a number of advanced scans and tests using the latest technology to ensure you are tolerating the medication well and to track the growth of the follicles.

When the follicles reach a certain size, the little eggs inside are ready to be triggered. You will receive a trigger shot the night before egg retrieval day – quite late at night, usually at a very specific time.

Egg retrieval procedure

Egg retrieval day is usually around 10 days after taking the medication. On egg retrieval day, you will come into the clinic in the morning, before eating or drinking. Our theatre sisters will meet you at reception and answer all your questions, before taking you to the theatre to prepare you for the procedure. You’ll also be able to chat to the anaesthetist, who will sedate you.

This is another amazing modern technology that enables egg donation: the light anaesthetic used as sedation. You do not go under full anaesthetic, you’re just very well sedated so you don’t feel any pain and have no memory of the actual procedure.

While sedated, your fertility specialist will do a vaginal scan with ultrasound – a quick and painless imaging procedure that provides a fertility specialist with a clear detailed view of your pelvic organs for accurate and safe egg retrieval.

There is a needle attached to the ultrasound and that needle is inserted into the ovary, and into each one of the follicles, so that the fluid inside each follicle is retrieved, hopefully containing an egg.

You will be able to go home on the same day. During the evening after the procedure and for the next two days you might expect some bloating and feel a little bit uncomfortable, for which your fertility specialist will give you painkillers. You should get a period five to ten days later and after that, your cycle should go back to normal.

The safest way to donate eggs

The safest way to donate eggs is to choose an egg donor programme that uses all the latest medical technology at an accredited and registered clinic to ensure your safety and a positive experience.

At Cape Fertility, your care is our priority and attention to your medical safety during the process is our primary concern when you donate eggs in a friendly, relaxed and caring environment at our advanced, purpose-built facilities in the beautiful city of Cape Town.

For the last 30 years we have safely completed thousands of egg retrievals, and our Egg Donor Fairy God Mother and her team are dedicated solely to taking the best care possible of our egg donors.

To find out more, simply fill in your contact details here, or contact our Egg Donor Fairy God Mother, Linda, on 066 22 55 003 or linda@capefertility.co.za. Your information is 100% confidential and will under no circumstances be made available to anybody else.

Contact us now to join our friendly, professional and leading Egg Donor Program!

Spread the giving!