Thus, it is necessary to firstly obtain both gametes, that is, the egg and the sperm. Secondly, they will be fused together in the laboratory in order for the resulting embryos to be transferred to the uterus of the intended mother. Once transferred, the embryos are expected to be able to implant, and therefore lead to a full-term pregnancy.
The prospective mother may not be able to contribute her own eggs either because of poor quality, sparse egg supply, or even because she has already run out of eggs. In such case, moving on to egg donation can be a key step in order for her to undergo an IVF treatment.
If the treatment of choice is donor-egg IVF, Danish regulations establish that no other man but the intended father can be the one contributing the male reproductive cells, i.e. the semen sample.
This means that single women and lesbian couples, even though they can access fertility care, are not allowed to undergo IVF with donor eggs. The reason behind this is that double gamete donation is not permitted; therefore, neither heterosexual couples in which both partners present problems related to their gametes can become parents through fertility care in Denmark.
Donor-egg IVF process
The Danish Law obliges prospective mothers who undergo this procedure or any other fertility treatment to be 46 years old or less. The treatment to be followed involves these steps:
- Egg donor recruitment
- Egg donor ovulation induction and follicular puncture for egg retrieval
- Collection and washing of the intended father’s semen sample
- Fusion of oocytes and sperms in the laboratory, either through standard IVF or ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection)
- Embryo culture up to day 3 or day 5, depending on embryo quality and each particular case
- Transfer of the resulting embryos, usually no more than 1 or 2
- Freezing of high-quality unused embryos by embryo vitrification
Within 15 days post embryo transfer, the prospective mother can take a pregnancy test in order for her to check whether pregnancy has occurred, and therefore the treatment has been successful or not.
If it cannot be a fresh egg donor cycle because synchronization between the menstrual cycles of the donor and the recipient is not possible, the retrieved donor eggs will be vitrified. When the cycle is about to be started, thawing, fertilization, and all the necessary steps the IVF process requires will be carried out.
The protocol the recipient, and therefore mother-to-be, has to follow involves the administration of hormone medications (estrogen and progesterone). By doing this, she gets her endometrium prepared for the transfer.
Thus, once the endometrium reaches the appropriate size and a thickness of between 7 to 10 mm approximately, embryo transfer to the womb is scheduled. As the embryo transfer is a simple and painless procedure that does not take too long, no anesthesia is required.
Some fertility clinics offer foreign patients the chance to start with endometrial preparation in their home country, and visit the clinic only at the time when the final ultrasound monitoring and the embryo transfer itself are scheduled.
As for the male reproductive cells, it is preferably to use a fresh semen sample collected from the intended father, although frozen samples are also accepted if it cannot be collected in due time.