Pregnancy with donor eggs: symptoms and sucess rates of ovodonation

By (gynecologist), (gynecologist), (embryologist), (embryologist), (embryologist), (psychologist) and (biochemist).
Last Update: 04/14/2023

Ovodonation is considered as the last option in assisted reproduction treatment to achieve pregnancy, since the hard decision must be made for the mother to give up passing on her own genes. Children born from ovodonation will possess the genetic endowment of the father, but not of the mother, since the egg comes from an anonymous donor.

Most couples accept egg donation after repeated failures of in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments with their own eggs. Finally, they can see their dream come true when they achieve pregnancy by ovodonation the first time round.

Provided below is an index with the 8 points we are going to expand on in this article.

When to resort to ovodonation?

Among the main reasons that lead a woman to undergo ovodonation treatment, we highlight:

  • Own eggs with genetic alteration susceptible to be inherited by the offspring.
  • Repeated failures in previous fertility treatments with own eggs.
  • Poor oocyte quality.
  • Loss of ovarian function due to oncological treatments.
  • Premature ovarian failure.
  • Absence of ovary

Some of these situations have a common cause and that is the reason why so many women today resort to ovodonation: age. The delay in childbearing in recent years has led to an increase in assisted reproduction treatments and egg donation. It is after 38 years of age when the probability of having to use donor eggs to achieve pregnancy increases.

Coping with egg donation

Coming to terms with the idea that your children born by ovodonation will have someone else's genetic makeup is not easy. However, egg donation is often the definitive solution for many couples to become parents.

Undergoing oocyte donation treatment is a complicated decision for prospective parents and must be firm and confident. Therefore, it is recommended to meditate patiently at home and not to make a hasty decision at the gynecological consultation. It is important to know in detail what the technique consists of and that both members of the couple agree and are able to assume it safely.

Assisted procreation, as any other medical treatment, requires that you rely on the professionalism of the doctors and staff of the clinic you choose. Obviously, each clinic is different. Get now your Fertility Report, which will select several clinics for you out of the pool of clinics that meet our strict quality criteria. Moreover, it will offer you a comparison between the fees and conditions each clinic offers in order for you to make a well informed choice.

To facilitate the decision, many couples ask for psychological counseling to help them understand what egg donation involves and allow them to be clear about the path they are going to choose to reach parenthood without future regrets or emotional consequences. They must understand the concept of mother and father as the person who raises and educates a child and not as the person who provides the genetic material.

Pregnancy with ovodonation

Couples who achieve pregnancy by ovodonation the first time, after a long time with, failed assisted reproduction treatments such as artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF), experience such happiness that leads them to the conviction of having made the right decision.

Success rates

Pregnancy rates using donor eggs are higher than those obtained in an in vitro fertilization treatment with the patient's own eggs. This is because most women who come to an assisted reproduction clinic are of advanced maternal age, while donors are young women with good-quality eggs.

The pregnancy rate by ovodonation reaches 60% after a first embryo transfer. This can increase up to 90% in the following attempts. The birth rate after each transfer, is close to 40%.

If the donation is from frozen eggs, success rates are reduced due to the oocyte quality after the freezing process. However, the technique used today known as vitrification of eggs offers survival rates close to 99%.

Pregnancy symptoms

As soon as the mother begins to notice the first signs of pregnancy, she feels the child is her own and the importance of genetics becomes much less important.

Although egg donors are young, healthy women who undergo a great deal of medical and psychological testing, pregnancy with egg donation is not free of possible risks or complications like any other pregnancy. It is important to perform the usual controls established by the health system, regardless of how gestation was achieved.

Similarly, the symptoms experienced by the woman month by month during pregnancy are the same in a pregnancy achieved by ovodonation as in a pregnancy achieved naturally.

An explanation from Dr Carolina Arboleya

In an interview with Dr Carolina, a gynecologist at Ovoclinic, she explains what pregnancy from IVF with egg donation is like.

Ovodonation treatment is a treatment very similar to in vitro fertilization. It is a treatment that allows patients who cannot have a child with their own egg cells to have a pregnancy and a baby at home thanks to eggs cells that come from a donor.

We usually turn to this treatment when there is a low ovarian reserve, or the eggs are of poor quality and can't be used for conventional IVF, for cases of early menopause, when previous IVF cycles do not result in implantation or in patients who have a genetic disease that could be passed on to the offspring.

It is important that the patients are well supported and informed, and to provide psychological counseling to help them. Furthermore, we take many factors into consideration when choosing the donor to make sure the baby will physically resemble the mother, and be of a close genetic match as possible, for example blood types.

FAQs from users

Why might IVF with oocyte donation involve mosaic embryos?

By Mar Belmonte (embryologist).

Mosaic embryos are embryos that have two different cell lines at the same time. This means that there are normal cells and cells with chromosomal alterations.

Ovodonation does not exclude the presence of embryos with some type of chromosomal alteration, therefore, mosaicism can also be present in embryos from donor eggs, although in a much lower percentage.
Read more

What factors influence IVF with donor eggs?

By Gustavo Daniel Carti M.D. (gynecologist).

The success of the ovodonation treatment depends mainly on an adequate synchronization between the embryo and the receptive endometrium, which will allow a correct nidation for the development of the pregnancy.

Ovodonation is an in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment in which eggs from a healthy and young woman (donor) are used for a different woman (recipient) to receive them, in order to generate embryos. These embryos are then transferred into the uterus of the recipient woman.

IVF with ovodonation is indicated in cases in which the patient cannot or it is not advisable to use her own eggs for various reasons, such as absence of ovaries, low ovarian reserve, poor oocyte quality, genetic alterations, absence of pregnancy after several IVF cycles, etc.

Is the baby at risk for donor diseases?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Since egg donors have been thoroughly studied, the fear that the baby may have a hereditary disease must disappear. It is also not necessary to have an amniocentesis to see if there are malformations, since this is an invasive test that can pose a risk to the baby's development. For the mother to be calmer, you can opt for non-invasive techniques such as triple screening.

Is the baby going to look like me in an ovodonation?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Those responsible for choosing the donor in a clinic first consider the blood group compatibility with the recipient. Next, phenotypic characteristics such as race, weight, height, hair and eye color are compared. Therefore, there are usually similarities between the mother and the future child.

In addition, although genetics is important in the development of the baby, education and environment also play a major role in the formation of personality and character.

What if the egg donor wants to meet my child?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Egg donation in Spain is anonymous, so it will not be possible for the donor to seek contact with the baby, nor should the donor question the possibility that the baby will want to meet her when she is older.

Should I tell my child that I am not his or her biological mother?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

The decision whether or not to tell the future child that he or she was born thanks to the donation of an anonymous donor's egg is optional. Many couples prefer to hide this fact from their child, while others do not hide the fact that they needed this technique to achieve the happiness of having him/her at home.

From when is pregnancy counted with an ovodonation treatment?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

A pregnancy through ovodonation is exactly the same as a pregnancy conceived naturally. The weeks of pregnancy are counted from the last menstrual period for the purpose of ultrasounds and medical tests, but it is clear that the exact moment in which pregnancy occurs is when the embryos are transferred to the mother's uterus.

Is it possible to have bleeding with a pregnancy achieved by ovodonation?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

The symptoms and risks of an egg donation pregnancy are the same as in any other type of pregnancy. A small amount of bleeding within days of embryo transfer may be due to implantation bleeding, which is completely normal, while bleeding in a more advanced pregnancy may be indicative of a problem.

Is it possible to have a twin or multiple pregnancy by ovodonation?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

If two embryos are transferred into the mother's uterus during the oocyte donation treatment, there is a high probability of twin pregnancy. This is the preferred option for many couples who only wish to go through the whole process once. However, there would be a risk of multiple pregnancy in case one embryo splits into two.

If you want to know what the whole ovodonation treatment consists of, step by step, you can continue reading in the following link: What is ovodonation?

We have talked about amniocentesis or triple screening as diagnostic tests for possible anomalies in the fetus. To learn more about them, see the following post: Invasive and non-invasive prenatal diagnostic techniques.

To know in detail the medical and psychological controls that egg donors undergo, you can read the following article: Donor controls.

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Braga DP, Setti AS, Figueira RC, Azevedo Mde C, Iaconelli A Jr, Lo Turco EG, Borges E Jr. Freeze-all, oocyte vitrification, or fresh embryo transfer? Lessons from an egg-sharing donation program. Fertil Steril. 2016 Sep 1;106(3):615-22.

Glujovsky D, Pesce R, Fiszbajn, G, Sueldo C, Hart RJ, Ciapponi A. Endometrial preparation for women undergoing embryo transfer with frozen embryos or embryos derived from donor oocytes. Cochrane Gynaecology and Fertility Group 2010.

Roseboom, T.J., Vermeden, J.P.W., Schoute, E. et al. (1995) The probability of pregnancy after embryo transfer. Hum. Reprod., 10, 3035-3041.

Watters M1, Noble M2, Child T3, Nelson S4 Short versus extended progesterone supplementation for luteal phase support in fresh IVF cycles: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Reprod Biomed Online. 2019 Oct 24. pii: S1472-6483(19)30785-0. doi: 10.1016/j.rbmo.2019.10.009.

FAQs from users: 'Why might IVF with oocyte donation involve mosaic embryos?', 'What factors influence IVF with donor eggs?', 'Is the baby at risk for donor diseases?', 'Is the baby going to look like me in an ovodonation?', 'What is the cost of a donor-egg pregnancy?', 'What if the egg donor wants to meet my child?', 'Does the donor-egg baby have genes from the birth mother?', 'Should I tell my child that I am not his or her biological mother?', 'From when is pregnancy counted with an ovodonation treatment?', 'Is it possible to have bleeding with a pregnancy achieved by ovodonation?' and 'Is it possible to have a twin or multiple pregnancy by ovodonation?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Carolina González Arboleya
Carolina González Arboleya
M. D.
Dr. Carolina González has a degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Santiago de Compostela. Currently, Dr. González is doing a Master in Assisted Reproduction by the Technological University TECH and another one in Aesthetic, regenerative and anti-aging medicine by the Complutense University of Madrid. More information about Carolina González Arboleya
Member number: 282875780
 Gustavo Daniel  Carti
Gustavo Daniel Carti
Dr. Gustavo Daniel Carti has a degree in medicine and specialized in obstetrics and gynecology from the University of Buenos Aires. More information about Gustavo Daniel Carti
Licence number: 07/0711274
 Mar Belmonte
Mar Belmonte
Mar Belmonte has a degree in Pharmacy from the University of Valencia (UV) and a Master's degree in Human Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid and the Spanish Fertility Society. More information about Mar Belmonte
 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
License: 3316-CV
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874
 Michelle Lorraine Embleton
Michelle Lorraine Embleton
B.Sc. Ph.D.
PhD in Biochemistry, University of Bristol, UK, specialising in DNA : protein intereactions. BSc honours degree in Molecular Biology, Univerisity of Bristol. Translation and editing of scientific and medical literature.
More information about Michelle Lorraine Embleton

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