Your first step in having treatment with donor eggs is to register with your chosen CARE Fertility clinic. We charge a one-off, non-refundable fee for registration to cover the time we’ll invest in working with you to identify a suitable donor.
You may have already had a consultation that has identified that you might benefit from treatment with donated eggs but if not, we’d recommend that this is your next step.
After your consultation:
If you choose to have fresh egg donation then your treatment cycle will be synchronised with your chosen donor’s cycle. If you are using eggs from our frozen egg bank then you will be able to arrange to have treatment in synchrony with your own or your surrogate host’s menstrual cycle.
When the donor starts injections to stimulate their ovaries, you (if you are having the embryo transfer) or your surrogate host start medication to prepare the womb lining in preparation for embryo transfer. The time from the beginning of the donor’s stimulation to egg collection can vary but is usually between 10 and 14 days. During this time, we monitor how the donor’s ovaries are responding by ultrasound and we can usually estimate whether stimulation is likely to produce the number of eggs we’re hoping for and keep you updated on progress.
We generally expect that 75 - 80% of the eggs we collect in a fresh egg donation cycle will be suitable for insemination (the embryology team refer to these as mature eggs). On the day of the donor’s egg collection the sperm provider attends the clinic and their sperm sample is prepared and used to inseminate the donated eggs. If the sperm provider isn’t able to come to the clinic (if they live a long distance from the clinic or overseas for example) then we can use a frozen sample that has been provided in advance. If frozen or donated sperm is being used then we arrange to have the sample transferred to CARE ready for thawing and use on the day of donor’s egg collection.
Depending on your individualised treatment plan the eggs will be inseminated by IVF or using intracytoplasmic sperm injection (or ICSI) and any resulting embryos are cultured in the laboratory.
Because you are using frozen eggs then we can arrange to thaw and fertilise the eggs of your chosen donor in synchrony with your own cycle and at a time that’s convenient for you. The first step in creating your embryos is warming the eggs under carefully controlled conditions. In our experience, around 85% of frozen donor eggs survive the freeze-thaw process.
We then go on to fertilise the eggs by ICSI, using either your partner’s sperm provided fresh on the day of thawing, or frozen partner or donor sperm that was provided in advance. Around 70% of the thawed eggs successfully fertilise to create an embryo.
The embryos are then cultured in the laboratory for up to 6 days depending on your treatment plan. We usually expect around 60% of embryos to develop to the blastocyst stage ready for transfer.
As you can see, at every step in this complex biological process from thawing, fertilisation and then development to the blastocyst stage, some eggs and then embryos don’t make it to the next stage. It is important to remember though that our programme is designed to give you the best chance of having a good quality embryo to transfer. We can never guarantee it, but our own data shows that starting with at least of six frozen eggs gives you that chance.
Once your embryos are created your treatment cycle will follow the usual IVF pathway.
You (or your surrogate if they are having the transfer) will be prepared for embryo transfer which may include taking medications and having ultrasound monitoring to check that the womb lining (or endometrium) is developing and thickening in preparation for embryo transfer.
If your endometrium develops as expected then embryos are replaced after up to 5 days of culture in our specialist laboratory.
We generally recommend transfer of a single good quality embryo to all of our patients but if that isn’t appropriate for your treatment, we will only ever transfer a maximum of two embryos where they were created using donor eggs. This is to reduce the risks of multiple pregnancy, which are determined by the age of the egg provider rather than the age of the embryo recipient. This is also a requirement of our regulator the HFEA.
We can give you detailed information leaflets about what happens in our laboratory while your embryos are being cultured, what happens after embryo transfer and your options if there are any embryos remaining after transfer that are suitable for freezing and subsequent use in a frozen embryo transfer cycle.