Egg donation follows the steps of in vitro fertilization (IVF). The timing of these steps is driven by the availability of a suitable donor and the precise coordination of menstrual cycles of the egg donor and the recipient mother.
1. Synchronizing recipient’s cycle to the donor’s cycle. The donor’s egg may be retrieved at the precise time of the month when the lining of the recipient’s uterus is ready for the implantation of the embryo. In order to accomplish this precise timing of cycles, the donor’s menstrual cycle must be synchronized with the recipient’s menstrual cycle. The egg donor undergoes a series of hormone injections to line up her menstrual cycle with that of the woman who will receive the eggs. There may be several injections during this cycle, and there will be several ultrasound and blood tests during which doctors will monitor the production of the donor’s eggs. When the ultrasound and blood testing suggest mature eggs in the ovaries, the donor will receive a final hormone injection prior to egg retrieval. Further dosages of hormonal medications may be used to keep the donor and recipient on the same cycle until eggs can be retrieved.
2. The male partner. The male provides a semen sample on the same day that eggs are retrieved from the donor. The semen and eggs are fertilized in a laboratory using IVF.
3. Embryo transfer to the recipient. Progesterone treatment begins for the recipient on the day after egg retrieval from the donor. The embryo transfer occurs three to five days after the eggs were retrieved from the donor. Ten to 12 days later, the doctor performs a blood test to determine if pregnancy has occurred.