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Egg Donation: Learn About Being an Egg Recipient or Egg Donor

Medically reviewed by Dr. Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS - Written by CHR Staff - Updated on September 7, 2020

Deciding to Use Egg Donation: CHR's Approach

Donor egg in vitro fertilization (IVF) is a form of fertility treatment where a young, healthy woman's eggs are used to produce embryos that are transferred to a recipient woman's uterus to establish a pregnancy. The recipient carries the pregnancy to term and gives birth to the baby. CHR offers two distinctive egg donor programs: the standard egg donor program that utilizes fresh donor eggs, and Eco Donor Egg Program (EcoDEP), a faster, lower-cost program offering frozen eggs from egg donors.

Because CHR has developed a reputation as the "fertility center of last resort" for women with severely diminished ovarian reserve (also called low functional ovarian reserve, or LFOR) and other difficult cases of infertility, a large majority of our patients come to CHR with a history of failed fertility treatments elsewhere and a recommendation for donor egg IVF. Our specialized clinical expertise in treating women with diminished ovarian reserve (either due to premature ovarian aging or advanced maternal age) has helped about a third of these women conceive with their own eggs. For two-thirds of these patients, donor egg IVF remains the best option for having a baby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), egg donor IVF had an 89% success rate in the United States in 2017.5

“If I Use Donor Eggs, Is My Child Really Mine?”

New research in the field of epigenetics (the study of changes in gene expression due to environmental factors) suggests that women who use donor eggs have a lot more influence on their child’s genes than previously thought. This is different from surrogacy.

Many geneticists agree that the time spent in the womb is the most critical period for determining how the child’s genes will function for the rest of its life -- so in many ways, you are just as important as your egg donor in determining how your baby’s genes work. Learn more about your biological connection to your donor egg baby in our video.

However, CHR considers egg donation as a treatment of last recourse. Our fertility specialist team believes in explaining all reasonable treatment options to women and couples, and helping them make their own informed decisions regarding which treatment to pursue. Too many women, in our opinion, are pushed into egg donation prematurely.2 We want to make sure that everyone entering a donor egg IVF cycle is fully convinced that this is the option they truly want to pursue. If the patient decides to give IVF with her own eggs at least one chance before she considers egg donation, we respect that decision and apply our innovative and individualized treatment approaches to help them get pregnant with their own eggs.

Donor Egg IVF Offers the Best Pregnancy Chances

We believe that women should be given the chance to conceive with their own eggs, but we also recognize that no fertility treatment offers higher pregnancy chances than egg donation (oocyte donation).3 The reason is obvious: Egg donors are usually young (CHR's egg donor pool rarely includes women above 30 years of age) and have normal fertility.

Pregnancy chances decline and miscarriage rates rise with advancing female age. An egg donor's young age means that the recipient's pregnancy chances and miscarriage risks become those of the young egg donor.

"No fertility treatment offers higher pregnancy chances than egg donation."

Center For Human Reproduction: Dr. Norbert Gleicher, best fertility specialist in the US Dr. Norbert Gleicher

Consequently, no fertility treatment can beat 20-year-old eggs in a 40-year-old infertility patient, who now has the pregnancy chance and miscarriage risk of a 20-year-old. (This is also the reasoning behind egg freezing.) Since the egg contributes approximately 95% (and sperm only 5%) to the ultimate "quality" of the embryo, the male's age is of much less importance.

Egg Donation Process: Information for Recipients

Dr. Norbert Gleicher explains how patients decide to pursue egg donation, and how CHR helps them at every step of the decision-making and treatment process.

Donating Your Eggs at CHR: The Egg Donation Process

CHR is not an egg donor agency or an egg bank. Rather, we are a world-class reproductive medicine center (fertility center). Since we are a fertility center with patients of our own, CHR treats our egg donors with the same high standard of clinical care that we offer to our fertility patients. Your health and wellbeing are top priority throughout the egg donation process.

By donating eggs, you are making an incredible difference for a woman or couple who, in the vast majority of cases, are otherwise unable to start a family. Becoming an egg donor does come with substantial responsibility to follow all protocols of the screening process and egg donation cycle. Medical screening involves a physical exam (including a complete physical check-up and height and weight measurement to calculate BMI), blood tests, a medical history (including physical and mental health), a family history (if any close family member has suffered from a health condition), psychological screening, and in some cases, genetic testing for genetic diseases or carrier status.

Young women who become egg donors will not be able to use hormonal birth control during the egg donation cycle, including long-acting hormonal contraceptives or a birth control pill taken on each day of the menstrual cycle. You will need to take all prescribed injectable medications and attend all appointments, from the preliminary appointments to the retrieval procedure, and finally the follow-up appointment after egg retrieval.

The health risks associated with egg donation are low. You can learn more about potential risks and side effects of fertility medications and egg retrieval as well as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) on our Egg Donor FAQ page.4 According to a study of 36 egg donors presented at an annual meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, our field’s professional organization, most egg donors report a positive experience and good health following egg donation.1

Learn more about egg donor responsibilities here and start your donor application today.

Matching Donors and Recipients

The application process at CHR is selective. After you are approved to become an egg donor, you are eligible to be matched with a recipient. Intended parents have an opportunity to browse potential donors in our egg donor database. Donated eggs may all go to one recipient or to multiple recipients.

If you are interested in having a baby with donor eggs at CHR, don’t hesitate to contact us today to discuss egg donation. If you are interested in becoming a donor, please start your application here.

infertility physician

Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS

Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned specialist in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.

Follow Dr. Gleicher on LinkedIn Center for Human Reproduction: Follow us on Google+. IVF center with best fertility options for each infertility patient. or watch his videos on YouTube Center for Human Reproduction: Follow us on Google+. IVF center with best fertility options for each infertility patient.

Read more about Egg Donation

  1. Egg Donors Report Good Long-Term Physical Health Status and Satisfaction with their Experience. American Society for Reproductive Medicine. October 15, 2019. Accessed August 29, 2020. Link.
  2. Gleicher N, Kushnir V, Weghofer A, Barad D. The “graying” of infertility services: an impending revolution nobody is ready for. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2014 July 9; 12:63. Link.
  3. Gleicher N, David H, Adashi EY. Why is use of donor eggs not viewed as treatment failure? A call for improvements in treatments with autologous oocytes. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2020 June 6; 37:1583-1588. Link.
  4. Jayaprakasan K, Herbert M, Moody E, Stewart JA, Murdoch AP. Estimating the risks of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS): implications for egg donation for research. Hum Fertil (Camb). 2007 Sep; 10(3):183-7. Link.
  5. View ART Data: National Data. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2018. Accessed August 29, 2020. Link.
Additional Resources

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