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Egg Donation

If you are considering egg donation, you've probably already taken several steps on your journey toward becoming pregnant. If, like so many other women, you are unable to conceive using your own eggs, this procedure may finally provide the means to help you achieve your dream of having a child.

Egg donation is used only in women with abnormal eggs or ovarian conditions, such as premature ovarian failure, anatomically inaccessible ovaries, or lack of ovarian function, and is often seen as the last resort when fertility medications have failed. It is the least common of all the assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures. According to the CDC, only 11.6 percent of all ART procedures used donor eggs in 2003.

In order to be considered a candidate for donation, you must meet certain physical and psychological requirements. You will undergo testing to ensure that you're healthy and capable of carrying a pregnancy to term without any extra medical risk. Standard testing guidelines set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) include screening for sexually transmitted diseases, infectious diseases such as Hepatitis and HIV, and hormonal evaluations, among others. Your uterine cavity will also be evaluated to ensure its receptivity at the time of embryo transfer. Any woman with a medical or genetic reason for using an egg donor can be a recipient, but age limitations vary from place to place. Most infertility centers establish age limits between 45 to 50 years old.

You and your partner may also be required to meet with a psychologist who will help you consider the issues recipient couples often face, such as a sense of loss associated with your inability to make a genetic contribution, the important role genetic parenting plays, the risks associated with an IVF cycle and pregnancy, as well as the demands of parenting at an older age. After you've had these conversations and have a better understanding of the emotions you'll be facing, you may reconsider your decision to have the procedure, which is why it's so important for you and your partner to speak with a psychologist.

If you've decided that egg donation is right for you, the next step is to choose a donor. Many women consider friends and family members as options if they are willing to donate their eggs. Some couples have found advertising in college newspapers to be a successful way of finding a donor, while others choose to use their infertility center. Many times the donors are kept anonymous, but some centers will allow you to meet the women before choosing one.

According to the CDC, the likelihood of a fertilized egg implanting in the uterus of the recipient is related to the age of the donor. A woman considering becoming a donor must be in good health; between the ages of 21 and 34; undergo rigorous psychological, medical and genetic testing; and be cleared of any infectious diseases before donating her eggs. You will be given all kinds of information about potential donors, from their physical features and ethic backgrounds to their occupations and special interests.

Following your selection of a donor, your doctor will use birth control pills to coordinate the menstrual cycles of both you and your donor in order to create a hospitable uterine environment. As the recipient, you will receive higher doses of estrogen and then progesterone one day before the retrieval of your donor's eggs.

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Featured Sites:

Cord Blood Registry
March of Dimes
Susan G. Komen

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