Sometimes the journey of fertility is not as straight forward as we’d like it to be, and we start looking for other ways of experiencing motherhood and parenthood.
Egg donation can be the answer when a couple doesn’t have enough or good quality eggs or when a male same-sex couple wants to do surrogacy.
In the UK, people choosing donation as a route to parenthood has increased significantly over the years. Since 2014, use of donor eggs has increased 49% and use of donor eggs and sperm has increased 261%
However, considering and going ahead with egg donation is a huge step and couples need to make sure they are ready to this alternative plan. So let’s look at the process, what it involves and what are the regulations in the UK around donation.
1- Suppression/down regulation: daily injection or nasal spray for 2 to 4 weeks or 10 to 14 days)
During this first phase, the donor will supress her ovaries with either injections or nasal spray. Regular scans and blood tests will show if she is responding to the medication as expected.
2- Stimulation (daily injections for 10 to 14 days)
The donor will stimulate her ovaries to produce egg follicles with a daily injection of FSH. The donor will have regular scans and blood tests to see how she is responding to the injections, how many egg follicles are being produced and their size. The donor might feel bloated and some discomfort during this phase.
3- HCG Trigger Injection (one injection 36 hours before egg collection)
When the scans and blood tests show the egg follicles are big enough, the donor will take this injection which will induce ovulation.
4- Egg Collection
Eggs are collected 36 hours after the HCG injection. This is performed in clinic, under local anaesthetic, sedation or general anaesthetic. The donor might feel some abdominal pain or discomfort afterwards and it may last for a few days.
The embryologist will now prepare the egg with the sperm, so they can fertilise and become an embryo. Between two to five days after, the embryo(s) will be transferred to the recipient. The recipient will know in about two weeks if she is pregnant.
In the UK, all egg, sperm and embryo donors must be identifiable to the person conceived from their donation. The donor’s details are kept confidential under Data Protection legislation but will be passed on to the individual born as a result of that donation if that person requests it.
Egg donors can receive compensation for up to £750 to cover financial loss during each egg donation cycle. Other costs like travel, accommodation and childcare may also be claimed.
When considering fertility treatment with egg donation, you can receive eggs from a friend or family member, from the egg bank or from an egg sharing scheme at the fertility clinic. Regardless of who donates you their eggs, all UK-based clinics follow HFEA and conform with strict medical, legal and ethical standards.
By donating eggs, donors are agreeing with not being the legal parent, not having legal obligations and not being named in the child’s birth certificate. They are also agreeing with not having rights on how the child will be brought up and will not be asked to financially support the child.
When the sperm fertilises the egg, an embryo is formed with the genetic material resultant from that union. If you are getting a donated egg, the child will be genetically related to the donor. However, recent research has found that women who conceive using donor eggs may affect the activity of their child’s genes. This is thought to be related to microRNA present in the womb lining during implantation. So even though you can’t pass on your DNA, your embryo will take up your microRNA which will determine which of its genes will become active. You can check this info here.
Even though you are not biologically related to the child, you will be involved in the process of loving, educating and helping a child grow into an adult. Your child will learn with you, how to eat, drink, walk, speak, write etc plus all the values and beliefs you want to pass on as a mom/dad. Children are more than just genetic material.
Support whilst you are considering Egg donation and during the process is very important. A certified fertility counsellor or coach can support you in terms of:
If you are considering Egg Donation or would like to explore the option and learn more about the process, schedule a one-to-one coaching consultation here.
About Andreia Trigo
Andreia Trigo RN BSc MSc is the founder of the Enhanced Fertility Programme, multi-awarded nurse consultant, fertility coach, author and TEDx speaker. Combining her fourteen-year medical experience, CBT, NLP and her own eighteen-year infertility journey, she has developed unique strategies to help people undergoing similar challenges achieve their reproductive goals. The Enhanced Fertility Programme is helping people worldwide and has been awarded Best Innovation in Business 2018 and E-Business of 2018.