Egg donation stands for the reproductive alternative that allows a great number of women and couples have a child despite not being able to use their own eggs.
The Act 69 (I)/2015 on the Application of Medically Assisted Reproduction, issued in 2015, regulates which should be the procedure followed when engaging into the egg donation process, among other techniques.
The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.
In the pursuit of pregnancy
A number of reasons could be the cause as to why a woman may need donor eggs because of being unable to get pregnant with those of her own. Among the most common causes, we highlight the following:
- Low ovarian reserve or no egg production (premature ovarian failure or menopause).
- Poor egg quality.
- Presence of any genetic alteration likely to be inherited by offspring.
- Previous IVF failure due to a poor response to fertility medications, fertilization failure, or implantation failure.
- Recurrent miscarriage
Furthermore, another important cause that leaves a great number of women no choice but to resort to egg donation is advanced maternal age.
Current lifestyle habits tend to “force” women to delay motherhood to a stage of life in which age is not biologically ideal anymore. This results in a decrease of both egg quantity and quality, which at the same time increases the number of complications involved in conceiving naturally.
Egg donation treatment
Egg donation, also known as ovum donation, is a fertility treatment through which the female recipient uses the oocytes of another woman for the creation of those embryos that will be later transferred into the uterus of the former.
This is the reason why both women involved in the aforementioned process will receive different treatments:
- Donor: Hormone-based medications will be necessarily administered for controlled ovarian stimulation (COS). Before her natural ovulation cycle begins, egg retrieval will be performed through a surgical intervention called follicular puncture.
- Recipient: In this case, hormone drugs will be self-administered either through oral, vaginal or patch route. Such medications are necessary for endometrial preparation. Thus, once the endometrium (uterine layer where embryo implantation occurs) acquires a triple line pattern and its thickness is of around 8 mm, the transfer of those embryos created from donor eggs will be performed, pending embryo implantation and therefore pregnancy.
Egg donation cycles can be done either with fresh or frozen eggs. Where fresh donor eggs are used, synchronization of the donor and recipient's cycles must be scheduled.
Conversely, if it cannot be carried out using fresh eggs, a common fact among foreign recipients, donor eggs are frozen right after being obtained, waiting to be used at the right time.
Later, donor eggs will be thawed and fertilized either with the husband’s sperm or donor’s sperm. Out of the embryos obtained after this fusion, only those of optimal quality will be transferred to the recipient, and the unused embryos will be cryopreserved.
Within Cyprus, Act 69 (I)/2015 regulates the egg donation process. Such law addresses they way in which one must proceed when undergoing this fertility treatment. Most noteworthy aspects are the following:
- Egg donors must be of legal age and no older than 35 years of age, with full capacity to act. Besides, they must be in overall good health, placing a special focus on being free from any genetic disease.
- Donor identity cannot be revealed to the recipient couple, nor to the child. General information can be given, though. Likewise, while recipient couples are given the chance to select the donor's characteristics, disclosure of donor identity won't ever be permitted.
- Selling donor gametes or embryos is forbidden. Despite that, donors can be given an economic compensation due to any expense derived from the egg donation process and following gamete cryopreservation (e.g. laboratory expenses, travel costs, accommodation, hours of work lost, etc.).
- Unless the embryos have been allocated to a recipient couple, embryo creation from donor gametes, either eggs or sperm, is forbidden as well.
- Donor's ovarian tissue extraction and storage is prohibited.
- Recipient women cannot be older than age 50, mainly because this age is considered to be the stage when women's reproductive capacity comes to its end.
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