The first pregnancy resulting from egg donation was reported in 1984. Since then, egg donation has helped many struggling with infertility to conceive. Egg donation is most commonly used when the patient is unable to produce her own eggs. The donated eggs are fertilized with partner sperm as in a conventional IVF treatment cycle, and one (or two) transferred as an embryo for pregnancy.
The main reason why women fail to produce eggs is related to age; as women grow older their stock of eggs declines in the number and quality up to the menopause, by which time natural reproduction is no longer possible. Some women experience premature menopause (known as ‘primary ovarian insufficiency’), while others may have ovarian problems that preclude egg development and ovulation. This can happen in women as young as 20 or 30. For these women, egg donation is the only possible fertility treatment.
In such cases (even in women beyond natural menopause), egg donation is the only treatment for pregnancy.
Egg donation also is used for women who have normal ovulation, but who have poor-quality eggs, for instance, women who have had multiple failed IVF cycles, women of advanced reproductive age (over age 38), and women with a low response to medications for ovarian stimulation.
Egg donation is a fertility treatment for women unable to produce their own eggs or at high risk of transmitting genetic disease.