Fertility & Reproductive Health

The Egg Donation Process

Egg donation has become a more commonly used method of achieving high quality embryos for embryo transfer and pregnancy with in vitro fertilization (IVF). Women and couples may choose to use an egg donor for a several reasons, including the normal effects of aging on a woman’s own egg quality and quantity.


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There are two kinds of egg donation processes. One involves a “fresh” egg donor and the other involves the use of frozen eggs ordered from one of several national egg banks.

Fresh Egg Donation

For “fresh” egg donors, the donor undergoes a cycle of IVF on site here at University Hospitals Fertility Center and creates eggs and embryos only for the recipient intended parent(s). We encourage patients to work with established agencies to identify the egg donor best suited for their specific criteria. Only non-identifying information about the donor such as age, physical characteristics, educational background, occupation, personal and family health history is shared with potential recipients. Once selected, the donor is interviewed and screened in person by our staff.

After a donor-recipient match has been made, it is time to start the cycle. The goal of the cycle is to obtain the eggs from the donor. The eggs are then fertilized, and the resulting embryos frozen in a process called vitrification. Once the intended parent has prepared her uterus for transfer, the embryo is thawed and placed into her uterus. Extra embryos remain frozen for later use. Both the donor and recipient will meet (separately) with one of our IVF nurses for education about their cycles and medication training.

Ovarian Stimulation

During the stimulation, an egg donor gives herself hormone medications by injection to encourage multiple egg development. The donor’s response to the medications is carefully monitored by vaginal ultrasounds and blood tests. When the ultrasounds and blood test indicate the eggs are ready, a final injection is given to prepare the donor for egg retrieval.

Side effects and possible complications of the medications and the procedure are fully discussed with potential donors at their consultation with the physician.

Egg Retrieval

For fresh egg donors, the egg retrieval is done at the UH Fertility Center’s Risman Pavilion office in Beachwood.

The donor will be given light sedation for the retrieval. The egg retrieval is done through the vagina by using ultrasound to guide a thin needle into the ovaries. The eggs are obtained by withdrawing the eggs from each of the follicles. We ask that the donor stay in the recovery area afterwards for approximately an hour, after which she can be driven home. Most patients return to work and normal activities the following day.

Fertilization and Transfer

For fresh egg donors, sperm will be used to attempt to fertilize the retrieved eggs on the day of the retrieval. After approximately five days the embryos will be frozen (cryopreserved) for future use by the intended parents. The intended parent will then prepare for transfer with hormone medications. When the uterus is ready, the embryo is thawed and transferred.

Frozen Donor Eggs

UH Fertility Center works with frozen egg banks for patients who wish to utilize frozen donor eggs to build their families. Eggs are shipped frozen to the UH Fertility Center where they are thawed and fertilized. The embryos are incubated in the lab and subsequently transferred, or in some cases, frozen for later use. The recipient parent(s) receive in-depth education on this approach with their physician as well as one of our IVF nurses for education about their cycles and medication training.

Your UH Fertility Center physician can discuss whether frozen donor eggs are the right choice for you if you choose to use donor eggs on your fertility journey.