Egg recipient treatment is a form of fertility treatment used by women who are unable, for whatever reason, to use their own eggs to have a child
What does the treatment involve?
Egg recipients will be given drugs to ensure that the lining of the womb is ready for the embryos. This is like taking a mild form of the pill. When the eggs are collected from the donor, your partner will provide sperm that will be used to fertilise the eggs. About five days later, a fertilised egg, called an embryo will be placed into your womb. A pregnancy test will be done two weeks later. This treatment includes;
We will see you to discuss the implications of your treatment for you, your family and your potential child. We will arrange any blood tests or investigations that you may need. If you decide to go ahead with treatment, you will have a further consultation with the doctors to sign the relevant consent forms.
We will arrange for you to have a course of the drugs needed to prepare your womb. This will allow us to find the best protocol for you before the eggs are ready. This can take around six weeks.
We will let you know that a donor is available and you will be given a further programme to follow. If eggs are available and fertilisation occurs, you will also have an embryo transfer.
Who are the donors and how are they selected?
Donors are usually women aged under 35 years who have completed their own family. Donation is on a voluntary basis and no payment is made, other than expenses incurred. Details of the donor’s blood group, height, weight, hair and eye colour are available. This is so that matching can be made with you. This is not always practical as donors are not available in great numbers, but we try to match on some of your characteristics.
Egg donors are screened thoroughly to ensure they are physically fit, free from diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted disease and that they are not carriers of the Cystic Fibrosis gene.
Sometimes couples who are infertile and need IVF, agree to share some of their eggs with people like you. This would mean that the cost of their treatment is reduced. We would only agree to this arrangement if we were reasonably confident that the donor will produce good eggs. You should be aware that these donors may not have proven fertility. We will tell you if the donor is participating in the egg share scheme.
What are a donor’s rights?
The donor will have made an agreement with us to donate eggs. They have no obligations to you individually. The donor has the right to withdraw from treatment at any stage and for any reason. You may not be told why this decision has been made.
If the donor is an egg-sharer, she will have signed an agreement with us about how the eggs will be shared between you both. This is an individual arrangement for each patient and you will be told about the terms of this agreement before treatment starts. You will not be able to influence this agreement.
All information about a donor is confidential and as the law currently stands, you have no rights to information about the donor other than basic details of weight, height, hair colour, eye colour and blood group. The donor does not have any rights or responsibilities to the child.
Who are the legal parents when egg donation has been used?
Both partners will sign a consent form at the clinic to allow the woman to receive donated eggs, and for these to be mixed with her partner’s sperm. After signing these consent forms the woman is regarded in all aspect as the child’s mother. You would be the legal parents of any resulting child and your names are entered on the child’s birth certificate.
What are the child’s rights?
As the law currently stands, your child can approach the HFEA (Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority) when they reach the age of 18, for further limited information. This includes identifying information if the donor was registered after April 1 2005.
To tell or not to tell
This is something you may want to talk about with our counsellor. There are no right or wrong decisions about telling your child of their origins. Your decision either way does not exclude you from treatment. There are various booklets you can read to help you with this and a support group called The Donor Conception Network will be able to give you more information.
Confidentiality is of utmost importance. Apart from our statutory obligation to inform the HFEA, we do not tell anyone about your treatment without your permission
How do I prepare for treatment?
Before you are offered eggs we will see you to discuss your drug programme. The programme is designed to suit your individual needs. During this time, we will see you to monitor your response to treatment. This response is the basis for your treatment when eggs are available for you. We will discuss this with you so you will understand what is happening and how you will feel during this time. We will also give you general advice about how to prepare for pregnancy.
What happens if I do not receive the eggs?
We cannot guarantee that you will receive eggs. This is dependant on a number of factors, including:
- the donor withdrawing from treatment
- the donor may not respond to stimulation to grow eggs and we may have to stop treatment
- the donor may grow too many eggs and there may be a risk to their physical health and we have to stop for this reason
- we may not collect the number of eggs anticipated at egg collection
- in an egg sharing arrangement, there may not be enough eggs available to share
How are the eggs shared?
Sometimes you may have to withdraw from treatment for unexpected reasons at short notice. We must make sure that there will always be someone ready to receive eggs when the donor is ready. To ensure this, we usually have more than one couple programmed to receive eggs from each donor. We hope to be able to give you at least six eggs and the available eggs will be divided between you to achieve this.
It may be that only one recipient will receive eggs. We will let you know whether you are first in line or stand-by. If the donor is an egg sharer, she will have signed a written agreement with us about how the eggs will be shared between you both. This will include the possibility that she may withdraw at any time, either to continue the treatment for herself alone or to stop treatment. If eggs are to be shared, either between more than one recipient or with an egg sharer, they will be allocated randomly between you regardless of quality.
How many times can I have treatment?
Usually you can have treatment twice. This depends on availability of funding and donors. You can discuss this with your doctor at your initial clinic visit. We review this each time you have a cycle of treatment.
What happens when I am ready for treatment?
We will give you instructions about your drugs and monitoring when you’re ready for treatment. You will be given a time to attend the unit to produce your semen (sperm) sample when the eggs are available. We will then tell you how many eggs you have. You will be asked to contact the unit to find out if the eggs and sperm have fertilised and formed embryos. A time will then be given to attend for embryo transfer.
When do we come for the embryo transfer?
The transfer usually takes place five days after the egg collection.
What do I do before I come in?
Before you come in, you should have your breakfast as usual then arrive at the centre at the time arranged. Please do not wear perfume or strong deodorants. Partners should not wear aftershave.
What will happen when the embryos are transferred?
When you go through to the treatment room we will be able to show you your embryos on the monitor screen if you wish. We will confirm with you again the number of embryos you wish to have transferred. The transfer is a simple procedure, similar to a cervical smear test. It lasts about five minutes and usually you feel no discomfort at all. You can go straight home afterwards.
Why do I need more medication after the transfer?
Medication is needed to help support the lining of the womb after the embryos have been transferred. This drug will be a progesterone pessary. Details of the drug will be discussed with you when you see your nurse. You will still continue your Oestrogen tablets.
What do I do afterwards?
We advise you to lead as normal a life as possible after the transfer without doing anything too strenuous. There is nothing more you can do at this stage to help the embryos to implant. Please call us if you have any problems. Your nurse is there to help support you both throughout treatment. If she is not available, any of the nurses at the centre will be happy to talk to you.
When will we know if the treatment has worked?
We will tell you when to return for a pregnancy test. This will be about 14 days after the embryo transfer. Most women do not have a period before the pregnancy test but even if you do you should still attend for a test. Remember that even if the pregnancy test is positive, we will need to wait another three weeks before we do a scan to confirm that a baby is growing.
What do we do if the treatment fails?
Unfortunately, most couples will not be successful in achieving a pregnancy. We are aware of the great disappointment you may feel. People cope with this in different ways. If you wish to talk to us, please phone at any time and we would be happy to see you.
It is good to talk to someone who understands what you are feeling. Our counselling service is available even if you feel you are coping. We will give you an appointment to come back to the clinic to see a nurse or doctor to review your treatment, usually about one month later.