In order to successfully become pregnant, a woman must first produce healthy eggs. However, for some women, this is not possible due either to having poor quality eggs or even having no eggs at all. In this case, in order to conceive, an egg donor may be used.
Many women donate their eggs in order to help an individual or couple who is unable to have a child naturally. Here, the egg may be used in conjunction with in vitro fertilization, the process of placing the eggs of the donor and the sperm of the biological father together in a laboratory for the purpose of embryo development.
In addition to the use of donated eggs for surrogacy or pregnancy purposes, other uses may include medical research. There have been many notable medical related findings thanks to the use of donor eggs, including knowledge regarding human embryonic stem cells and how it may help patients who suffer from various types of cancer.
Much of the medical knowledge that is obtained by using donated eggs has resulted in the elimination of some serious inherited disorders and mitochondrial diseases that can be passed on by the mother of a child.
Furthering such knowledge could even help in reducing the transmission of such disorders, allowing a mother a much higher chance of giving birth to a healthy baby.
In most cases, women naturally mature one egg each month. However, a number of egg follicles can be induced to grow and mature if the woman is given certain types of medication. This will allow an egg donor the ability to donate more than just one egg at a time - thus increasing the chances that at least one will become fertilized successfully.
The egg donation process entails several key steps. First, a potential donor is required to go through numerous screening processes, including medical, psychological, fertility, and genetic. These tests will help in determining the overall health of the woman, as well as whether or not she is genetically predisposed to carrying diseases or disorders that could potentially be passed on to the baby.
Once an individual has passed through the screening process, she will be given medication to help the egg follicles produce. She will also be put on a plan that helps to match up her cycle with that of the woman who will be carrying the embryo (typically, the intended mother).
Once the egg donor's eggs have been fully developed, the process of egg retrieval will be performed. This simple procedure usually takes less than one hour. It involves placing the egg donor under light sedation. When the egg retrieval has been completed, the donor is encouraged to rest for a period of 24 hours, after which she may resume her normal daily activities. Egg donors are typically not charged for any of their medical tests or procedures. And, in many cases, egg donors are compensated for their donations. This pay can be several thousand dollars. The pay must, however, be reported on the egg donor's taxes as compensation. Oftentimes, if an egg donor refers another individual who also donates her eggs, a referral fee will also be paid.