How to Select an Egg Donor (for Surrogacy or IVF)
Even though every woman wants her child to carry forward her DNA, however due to aging or medical issues, her eggs might not be of such fine quality anymore to give birth to a child. If a woman goes for In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) or Surrogacy with donated eggs (eggs of a different lady fused with her husband’s sperms), for some women accepting a child who does not carry her genes can be overwhelming.
Honestly speaking, it does not matter. Once you have a child in your arms, it will be 100% yours, even legally. The birth certificate of the child will carry your and your husband’s name on it.
It is extremely important to find the right egg donor for you.
The Best Age Group
Not all women can qualify to be an egg donor for IVF/Surrogacy. The ideal age group is women between 21 to 30 years of age. Most agencies do not even consider women (egg donors) over 28 years of age.
The quality of the egg decreases rapidly as a woman gets older. The chance of producing good quality eggs decreases after 30 years of age and the possibility of having normal eggs falls sharply when a woman reaches 37 years of age. In foreign countries, a lot of working women get their eggs/embryo’s frozen at an early age and use them when they are ready for a child later in life when their own eggs may not remain as healthy as they were.
Women younger than 20 years of age are also not selected (usually) because they often do not understand the importance/depth of what they are agreeing to.
Proven Pregnancy Check
An egg donor should already have at least one child of her own to prove that she has the capability of producing fertile eggs.
If you are looking for an egg donor, it is advisable that you choose an egg donor whose features match yours, at least somewhat (height, complexion, hair and eye color).
Normally, only one egg is produced in the ovaries at a time when a woman is not under any medication. However, an egg donor is given medications so that she produces 10+ eggs at a time. Not all donated eggs are fit for use. Some eggs may not develop maturely while others may not fertilize for unknown reasons.
To ensure that maximum eggs are retrieved and they are healthy, it is best that you choose an egg donor who did not donate her eggs for another IVF/Surrogacy very recently (say in the last 4 months).
Number of Egg Donations
A woman is not allowed to give egg donations more than 5 times in her lifetime. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has set this standard, this rule is usually followed by Indian doctors too.
A physical examination is required before anyone becomes an egg donor. Blood tests are needed to check the hormone levels and medical history. Ultrasound is used to examine the pelvic organs, ovaries and uterus. These tests are completed to ensure that the egg donor is free from any existing health problems.
Likewise, egg donors are not smokers or should have stopped smoking for at least six months prior to the egg donation. Candidates with the history of drug use are also ruled out. Urine toxicology tests are required to determine abstinence from drug use.
Infectious Disease Screening
When tissue or blood is transferred from one individual to another, there is a risk of bacteria or virus. To reduce the risk of causing illness in the intended recipient, the egg donor is tested for any infections.
During the pelvic exam, a small scrape from the cervix is taken to test for Chlamydia and gonorrhea. Blood tests are also performed to test the egg donor for hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and HTLV-1. HTLV-1 is not common virus but it is associated with some forms of cancer.
Blood tests are done to measure estrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), Luteinizing Hormone (LH), Antimullerian Hormone (AMH) and Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels to make sure that the hormone levels are normal. These tests are done during the first week of the menstrual cycle of the egg donor.
USA Law also requires that the egg donor should undergo an HIV test to make sure that she is not infected with HIV/AIDS. Indian doctors also perform these tests directly or rely on agencies to give them this report.
The sexual partner of the egg donor should also undergo testing for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.
Screening for Inherited Disease
To minimize the risk of birth defects in your child, the egg donor will undergo screening for inherited diseases.
In some cases, genetic counselor is accessible to make sure that certain genetic disorders like Huntington’s disease, Sickle cell anemia or Hemophilia are not present in the genetic history of the donor.
Egg donation is not a simple process. The whole journey of egg donation for IVF/Surrogacy is complex and may stir emotional, social and ethical issues. That is why psychological screening is vital.
An egg donor will have to take psychological tests. The main goal of psychological test is to make sure that the egg donor can fulfill the complex process of egg donation. Sometimes the partner will also have to undergo psychological evaluation.
Blood type matching is optional, but many doctors will recommend it. Consult your doctor regarding this.
For surrogacy, it is recommended that background checks should be done to ensure that surrogate mother is a responsible person and if free from criminal background.
What if a Friend or Relative is your Egg Donor?
There are times when a friend or relative is the egg donor. Instead of choosing an anonymous egg donor, some intended parents prefer choosing someone they know like their sister or any relative to make sure that they have some resemblance to their baby.
Intended parents also feel more connected and secure knowing that they know the egg donor. However, even if you knew someone who would be willing to donate her egg for you, the usual medical screening, psychological screening, HIV screening tests should ideally be followed.
Other Factors to Consider
In recent years, recipient parties also chose egg donor that have recent high grades and good career. These documents may show the abilities of the egg donor. Aside from grades, physical looks also matter. Studies show egg donors that are beautiful and intelligent are more likely to be chosen as egg donors.