There are a number of reasons why a woman may not be be able to use her own eggs to conceive a child. In some cases the woman may not have any eggs at all: her ovaries may have been removed from a previous operation, her ovaries may have been damaged during cancer therapy, or she may have experienced early menopause. In other cases, a woman may simply not have enough eggs or they may be of poor quality. Whatever the reason, egg donation can be an effective fertility treatment for women who are unable to conceive using their own eggs.
In an egg donation treatment, another woman (the egg donor) undergoes ovarian stimulation. At the same time, the intended recipient undergoes hormonal treatment to prepare her uterus for an embryo transfer. As in a standard in vitro fertilization cycle, eggs are retrieved from the egg donor, fertilized with the recipient’s partner’s sperm (or a donor), and embryos are transferred into the recipient’s uterus.
It is important that patients are well informed about the steps involved and that they are also familiar with the laws in Canada with respect to egg donation. Here, we try to outline some of the key issues and steps required when pursuing egg donation.
Are you a good candidate for Egg Donation?
Before deciding which option is best for you, you must first be considered a good candidate for egg donation by your fertility specialist. Recipients of egg donation at the Ottawa Fertility Centre must:
- Have completed a history and medical exam and testing to satisfaction of the fertility specialist at the Ottawa Fertility Centre.
- Be under the age of 51 at the time of embryo transfer.
- Have a BMI under 40.
- Attend a counseling session with a health psychologist.
- Obtain independent legal counsel and sign a legal agreement with the egg donor prior to start of treatment (only required for altruistic donations).
- Sign all appropriate consent forms at the Ottawa Fertility Centre.
A few options are available to patients of the Ottawa Fertility Centre who are seeking an Egg Donor:
Using an altruistic donor in Canada – couples often have to find a donor who is known to them, either through family or friends, who are willing to offer their eggs as an altruistic donation (i.e.: the egg donor does not receive payment).
Travel abroad – Where the above option is not feasible, couples sometimes choose to seek assistance outside of Canada. The Ottawa Fertility Centre works with reputable clinics in the United States and can assist in your care.
Select a donor – A third option is now available through the Ottawa Fertility Centre. Couples may now select an egg donor in the United States through Donor Egg Bank USA or Shady Grove Fertility and have eggs transferred to the Ottawa Fertility Centre where they can undergo the procedure close to home.