For female patients who have no viable eggs at all, or male patients who have no sperm, the option of egg or sperm donation offers a chance to still have a child of their own.
Because of the intense hormone treatment required to collect eggs, egg donation is a serious step for anyone to consider. Sometimes donors come from the community - women who have a family of their own and wish to share that joy with another.
The process begins by synchronising the menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient. The donor then undergoes a cycle of ovarian stimulation with the aim of producing as many eggs as possible. As the donor reaches the point of ovulation, the recipient begins taking estrogen and progesterone to prepare the lining of her uterus (similar to a frozen cycle).
The eggs are collected and fertilised with sperm from the recipient's partner. Resulting embryos are observed and the best chosen for transfer. Any other viable embryos are frozen for later attempts.
Find out more about egg donation at Bloom IVF and read our informal guide to finding an egg donor.
Eggs and sperm, like most human tissues, can carry diseases. Donors should be tested for disease at the time of donation. A negative test is not conclusive, as some diseases take many months to show up on blood tests. Therefore, sperm and fertilised eggs should be held in cryo-storage for six months. At the end of that time, the donor should be retested. If that test proves negative, the gametes are considered disease-free.
Some recipients choose to waive the quarantine period for eggs. In this case, Bloom IVF takes no responsibility for any diseases contracted by the recipient from the transferred eggs.
By law, however, we must quarantine donated sperm for six months before using it to fertilise eggs.
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