By BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 12/21/2015

In vitro fertilization with donor eggs consists of fertilizing donor eggs in the IVF laboratory to later perform the embryo transfer to a woman wishing to become a mother.

The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.

Indications

There exist many possible causes why using donor eggs may turn out to be necessary, like when there are chances of inheriting a disease. However, the most common reason why a woman may need donor eggs is low ovarian reserve. When there is poor egg quality or the woman presents a poor response to fertility medicines while taking ovulation enhancing drugs, using the eggs of a young, healthy woman is an advisable option.

Having a baby via egg donation is not allowed worldwide. Also, in countries where it is indeed allowed, there are long waiting lists due to a shortage in egg donors. For this reason, sometimes couples wishing to be on parenthood are forced to travel abroad in order to have access to the fertility treatment they need.

Within Europe, Russia is considered to be one of the countries in which regulations governing medically assisted reproduction are quite comprehensive. In other words, a great number of techniques is allowed, including those where egg donation is required. All these elements make Russia one of the most common destinations of the so-called fertility tourism.

Types of egg donors

Within Russia, gamete donation (eggs and sperm) and embryo adoption are permitted by law, either for altruistic or commercial purposes. This means egg donors can be paid an economic compensation.

As for choosing the egg donor, one can choose between two options, given that both anonymous and known egg donation are allowed. In case an anonymous donor is chosen, information about general characteristics of the donor can be given, such as:

  • Blood type
  • Hair and color type
  • Eye color
  • Weight and height
  • Some egg donor databases include audio notes, so that the intended parents can hear the voice of their donor, as well as a childhood picture of her

In this type of donor-egg IVF, which is the most frequent option, any information about the donor remains strictly confidential, and the same for the intended parents. Plus, the whole process is carried out through the assistance of the medical team, which acts acts as an intermediary. This modus operandi aims at protecting not only the donor and the intended parents, but also the baby-to-be. It is in the hands of the prospective parents if they wish to reveal to their baby that he/she was conceived via egg donation.

In case the patient has a preference for known egg donation, then the prospective egg donor will have to go through a strict medical screening process before being accepted as a donor. Moreover, there should be some sort of connection between the donor and the recipient, either a family relationship or a friendship.

Donor-egg IVF process

When a woman undergoes this fertility treatment, it is necessary that she prepares her endometrium so that the embryos, once transferred, are able to implant, which would mean the woman has achieved pregnancy.

Such medications can be self-administered either through oral, vaginal or patch route, which means subcutaneous injections are unnecessary. The thickening of the endometrial tissue will be monitored via vaginal ultrasound until it reaches the adequate size—trilaminar appearance, with an endometrial thickness above 7 mm. At that moment, the embryo transfer will be performed.

In the case of international patients, they are allowed to monitor endometrial preparation in their own country and travel to Russia only the day when the embryo transfer is scheduled, or a few days before if they wish to. Besides, to perform the in vitro fertilization, in case a fresh semen sample is needed, at least the man is required to visit the clinic in person that day. Another option, as long as it is permitted by the Russian fertility clinic, is freezing the semen sample in their country and ship it to the assisted reproduction center in Russia.

Embryo transfer stands for a simple, painless procedure after which the woman only requires between 15-30 minutes of rest. After that, she can continue with her usual lifestyle, always following indications given by the experts of the fertility center. That day or the following, she can travel back to her country of origin.

Costs

The Russian Federation is one of the most advanced countries in terms of assisted reproductive technologies (ART): its regulations allow the performance of different assisted reproduction techniques.

Besides, costs of assisted reproduction techniques are not too high if compared to other countries where they are allowed as well. These both factors are the main reasons why Russia is a frequent destination for those people who turn to fertility tourism.

Cost of fertility medications

Generally, when we are given the cost of any fertility treatment, additional prices should be added, such as extra visits to the fertility clinic as well as the cost of fertility medications, which is not commonly included within the original price.

Several differences can be found regarding the fertility medications women have to self-administer depending on each treatment. Most expensive medications are those prescribed to women undergoing an IVF cycle using their own eggs, since ovarian stimulation is necessary. Its costs usually are as high as €1,600. As for artificial insemination, even though ovarian stimulation is required, egg production can be triggered with low doses; therefore, these fertility medications usually cost a third of those required for IVF cycles, that is, around €530.

On the other hand, preparation of the endometrium also requires specific medications so that it is ready for the embryo transfer. Patients undergoing both IVF and artificial insemination cycles must take progesterone to achieve the appropriate endometrial thickness.

Women enduring egg donation or embryo donation processes can take advantage of their natural cycle or control it by means of fertility medications. Nevertheless, the latter option is the most common one, since it allows physicians to foresee more accurately how the woman’s body might react and make sure no failure or sudden alteration occurs.

In such case, the cycle can be regulated by taking contraceptives from the previous month. Later, hormone-based drugs will be administered as well as GnRH analogues, estrogens, and progesterone. The costs of these fertility medications are also less expensive than those of IVF cycles; in fact, its prices can be considered the same as those of artificial insemination.

Cost of using donor eggs and/or sperm

Fertility treatments including egg donation are the most expensive ones, since the cost of medications and the economic compensation for the donor are usually contained within the price paid to the clinic.

Costs of this treatment may vary greatly according to various factors. Depending on the fertility clinic and the number of donor eggs available, the general price range is between €4,400-€9,000.

Since Russian clinics allow known egg donation as well, economic compensation to donors would be subtracted, which could reduce the price considerably.

Likewise, sperm donation is way more cost-affordable. To calculate its total cost, around 200-500 euros should be added to the chosen treatment, that is, artificial insemination or IVF.

On the other hand, clinics from the Russian Federation offer programs to promote safe pregnancy. Clinics offering this sort of programs guarantee that, if pregnancy does not occur after a certain number of cycles, all costs will be refunded.

Moreover, patients from other countries can resort to programs aimed specifically at international patients. Such programs include airport transfers to the clinic and back as well as collaboration agreements with hotel chains to facilitate access to accommodation.

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Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
Andrea Rodrigo
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information about Andrea Rodrigo

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2 comments

    1. Emma T.

      Hey! I’m interested in traveling to Russia instead of the US to undergo egg donation there, because I’ve been analyzing your clinic directory and I’ve seen US prices are the highest, how is it possible? I’m from Germany.