Low egg quality or production doesn’t mean you are unable to baby into your family. There are third-party reproduction options that can provide you with a chance of making your dreams of having/ or expanding your family come true.
The process known as egg donation is an effective and safe fertility procedure where a fertile woman (known or anonymous) donates an egg to another woman to help increase her chances of conception.
Choosing egg donation
Picking your egg donor can be an emotional decision and seeking help from fertility professionals may be a good start in guiding you through this journey. For instance, a fertility specialist can assess your fertility health prior to fertility treatments to determine if egg donation is a viable option for you. Egg donor candidates are interviewed to ensure suitability from a medical standpoint and these candidates are screened for psychological or genetic health issues to ensure they have the chance of delivering a healthy baby.
Many fertility support agencies have Egg Donor Programs designed to help a patient find the perfect match. A patient can be referred to outside programs to compare all possible options.
Egg donations would be suitable for:
- Women with poor egg quality
- Women struggling with low or no egg production
- Same-sex male partners and single males
The egg donation process
When using donated eggs, the only difference from a traditional IVF cycle is that the donor undergoes an egg retrieval instead of the intended parent. With a frozen donor egg, the eggs have already been retrieved from the donors, frozen via a vitrification process, and stored. After the eggs have been developed into embryos, one embryo is transferred into the womb of the intended parent or surrogate to attach to the lining of her uterus.
Donor screening and testing
In Canada, all donor ova (egg) must meet safety standards before they can be used for Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR). All donors must undergo a suitability assessment to identify any risk factors for infectious and genetic disease transmission, which could impact the safety of the sperm and ova.
The donor suitability assessment involves:
- a physical examination of the donor
- donor screening, using a structured questionnaire to collect information about: age
- risks factors for certain genetic disease transmission
- risks factors for certain infectious disease transmission
- donor testing for infectious diseases including: HIV, syphilis, chlamydia/gonorrhea
- West Nile Virus
- hepatitis B and C
Thorough screening of donors is performed in Ontario across many criteria during a rigorous application process. Donors undergo extensive testing prior to donation, including a questionnaire detailing their personal and family medical history.
Egg donation may seem like the last option
When egg donation is seen as the last possible option to achieve a pregnancy, anxiety, fear of a new failure and many new questions may come up. This emotional imbalance may push the intended parent(s) to feel guilt, uncertainty, and disappointment. Your feelings are valid and reaching out to fertility support specialists may help you through this process.
Here are some Egg donor FAQ:
How many times can a woman donate her eggs?
Current medical guidelines in Canada indicate that most women can safely donate up to 6 times in their lifetime.
Is there a payment amount given to Egg Donors?
Under Canadian regulations, completed donation cycles can be reimbursed for expenses incurred during the egg retrieval process. For example, an egg donor could be reimbursed between $5000 – $6000 for expenses related to their donation. Reimbursements include, but are not limited to, the following: lost wages, childcare, food/travel expenses, accommodations, health & wellness, and recovery.
How long does the process take for an egg donor once she is chosen?
The actual process of egg donation takes approximately 2 weeks; however, the screening process can take up to 8-12 weeks. The process includes bloodwork, genetic screening, psychological assessment, legal contracts and more.
Source: Government on Canada
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