In our expert guide, we’re unpacking the egg donation process – how it works, the questions to ask and definitions for a few key procedures and treatments. And for top-notch info, we’ve asked one of Europe’s benchmark clinics – Eugin – to fill in a few blanks around egg donation.
With a success rate above 98% in treatments to-date, state-of-the-art tech at their fingertips and 20,000 babies born across 20 years, Eugin are highly experienced, patient-first and at your side 24 hours a day through the egg donation process.
Here’s the process, and what to expect.
How does egg donation work?
Egg donation is a process which enables someone to use a woman’s eggs to achieve a pregnancy. The donor will undergo part of the IVF process to have some of her eggs collected (egg retrieval), and these will then by fertilised with sperm (your partner or donor’s), developed into embryos, and transferred into your uterus, ready for implantation and, if successful, pregnancy.
Egg donation process timeline
A number of crucial steps are involved in the egg donor recipient process. Here’s the timeline we usually follow at Eugin, depending on your unique situation.
Step 1 – Your first consultation/visit
Lots of clinics offer the option to have your first consultation in-person, or by video call. This may be one of your very first interactions with the clinic, so have your initial questions ready and take the time to get a feel for how they work, and whether it’s the right fit for you.
At Eugin, your first visit will be free of charge. This is where we kick off the egg donor recipient process, and includes:
- your first medical consultation, with an assisted reproduction specialist
- a seminogram (a report on the male partner’s sperm sample, if applicable)
- a vaginal ultrasound (if necessary)
- evaluation of any medical tests and information you’ve already provided
- your medical diagnosis
- personalised guidance from the Eugin team
Step 2 – Leave a semen sample with your clinic (where applicable)
If this applies to you – for example, if you’re planning to use your partner’s sperm – the clinic will run a status check, using a seminogram.
What is a seminogram?
A ‘seminogram’ is the technical term for a semen analysis. We use it to assess your sperm’s quality and quantity, before proceeding with fertility treatment.
What happens to my sperm sample?
Usually, your partner or donor will masturbate to produce a semen sample – this is the best way to ensure a clean sample is left with the clinic, for the most accurate analysis and next steps. For some patients we work a little differently – for example, if their religion prevents them from masturbating – but we’ll always work to find the right solution for you.
You’ll just need to leave your sample with the clinic – we’ll provide a sterile container for this – and then it’s off to the lab for analysis. We’ll check for:
- semen volume
- sperm concentration, morphology, motility
- vitality (detecting the ‘live sperm’ percentage)
- liquefaction time (for optimal motility and transport during fertilisation)
Step 3 – Pre-treatment testing
Your doctor will confirm which tests they’d recommend, before going further with your egg donation procedure. At Eugin, we see lots of patients who already have test results, often from a previous clinic, which is absolutely fine – we won’t ask you to repeat tests unless absolutely necessary for the most effective treatment.
Here’s an outline of the tests we may suggest:
- serology tests for infections like Hepatitis B and C, HIV or syphilis
- gynaecological check-up
- blood group and Rh factor test, helping us find the right egg donor
Step 4 – Paperwork
Your clinic’s administrative team will be on hand to help with this part of the process.
Take your time and ask any questions you need to – at Eugin, no query is too small to be important. This is your unique family-building journey, every step is pivotal, and we’re here to ensure your experience is fully supported.
Step 5 – Follow-up with your consultant
In this session, your doctor will run through test results and a detailed diagnosis, helping you build next steps for the egg donation process. Your Eugin team can organise this as an in-person chat, or video call.
Step 6 – Donor selection
A really crucial aspect to look for in your egg donor programme is versatility. Your clinic and programme should be able to tailor treatment to your specific situation, and have as many conversations as needed to get things right.
From there, the matching process will be just as important. At Eugin, we’re able to offer two truly cosmopolitan and international bases (in Barcelona and Madrid), for both donors and intended parents), and work with over 15,000 donors from more than 70 nationalities. Choice is important, so ensure you’re going with a clinic which understands your unique requirements.
When looking at donor profiles, you’ll often see details on:
- physical appearance
- blood type
- health history
- genetic carrier screening (included in the cost of any egg donation treatment, with Eugin)
Eugin was the first European clinic to systematically introduce genetic matching in the donor allocation process. Genetic matching helps us reduce the risk of a serious genetic condition or disease being passed to your baby, by avoiding the same mutation being present in your egg donor and male partner (or sperm donor).
Step 7 – Fertilisation, transfer and the two week wait
Here’s a step-by-step of the donor egg fertilisation process, here at Eugin:
- your donor undergoes an ovarian stimulation treatment, for 15 days (you’ll also undergo hormone treatment, to ensure your menstrual cycle is synced with your donor’s, if needed, and to prepare your endometrium for the embryo transfer.)
- the clinic follows up with ultrasound assessment, and blood tests
- a specialist will extract the donor’s eggs (using a puncture technique, performed under sedation)
- the team will use the ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection) technique to fertilise the egg(s), and develop the blastocyst(s) in the laboratory
- we’ll carefully monitor the embryos, watching for signs of fertilisation (usually taking place around 18 hours after insemination)
- the egg(s) – now embryo(s) – go into an incubator, to grow and develop over two to five days). We’ll keep you up-to-date with progress every step of the way
- an embryologist will choose the very best embryo(s) for transfer
- any remaining embryos can be frozen (vitrified) and safely stored for use in future cycles
- transfer done, you’ll then be able to take a pregnancy test around two weeks later (also known as the ‘two week wait’)
That’s the theory, but of course in reality, the egg donation process involves a lot more than just process and treatment. It can absolutely be tough on your emotions and mental health, but as a pioneering, human-first clinic with 25 years of experience, we are here for you every step of the way.
Take the first step with Eugin today – connect with their team for customised treatment and world-leading care, 24 hours a day.