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Donor Egg IVF process abroad – what to know to save time, energy and money

Many people who are considering treatment using ART (Assisted Reproduction Technology) and IVF abroad are wondering what the IVF egg donation process looks like. How does egg donation work? How long do you have to stay in the country? What should you pay attention to during the treatment process? Below you will find some useful information that will help you understand the entire process, make well-informed decisions and save time and energy. This article focuses on the IVF egg donation process abroad.

What is the Donor Egg IVF process like?

For many infertility patients in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donated oocytes is the only chance to have children. The largest group of patients using donor eggs are women above the age of 38-40, women with poor response to ovarian stimulation, low AMH or low-quality oocytes. If you want to know more about in vitro with donor oocytes, check our Egg Donation Guide.

What is involved in a donor egg ivf program? In egg donation programs, an infertile couple receives oocytes from a donor, then in vitro fertilization with partner’s sperm or donor sperm follows and doctors perform embryo transfer to the uterus of the recipient. The oocytes come from a young healthy donor, so these types of programs are very successful. The average IVF with donor eggs success rate is 60%. In the case of the groups of patients mentioned above, success rates of IVF with own oocytes might vary by a few to a dozen percent.

Patients can choose between two types of egg donation programs, depending on the clinic’s offer: fresh egg donation program or frozen egg donation program.

IVF egg donation program – fresh donor eggs

What does the fresh IVF egg donation process look like? In a fresh IVF cycle, donor oocytes are not frozen but, immediately after egg retrieval, are transported to the laboratory for in vitro fertilization. Fresh IVF egg donation process requires synchronisation of the recipient and donor’s cycles. This can be complex and in certain cases may lead to lower success rates.

The egg recipient needs to be prepared for embryo transfer, which takes place about 3-5 days after egg retrieval. It is crucial to prepare the recipient’s uterus and endometrium for embryo transfer and to find the perfect implantation window, a time most appropriate for embryo transfer for the specific patient. The entire egg donation process for IVF needs to be synchronised with the egg donor’s cycle. Unfortunately, the egg retrieval day cannot be moved to a different date and in cases where the preparation for embryo transfer is less than satisfactory, embryo freezing and rescheduling the transfer date can be a solution.

IVF egg donation program – frozen donor eggs

With a frozen IVF cycle using frozen donor eggs, there is no need to synchronise the donor and recipient. The previously selected oocytes are thawed and this can be done on any date once the recipient’s implantation window, i.e. preparation of the uterus for embryo transfer, has been established. The only other time limitation is the lab schedule. Hence, frozen egg donation programs involve less risk regarding program cancellation or disruption.

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Fertility patients often wonder if the success rates of frozen egg programs and fresh egg programs are similar. Read about the effectiveness of egg donor programs and find out more about the differences between fresh and frozen donor eggs in our webinar: “Fresh donor eggs or frozen eggs for IVF – what’s better?”

Partner’s sperm in egg donation IVF process

Partner’s sperm should be prepared for fertilization on the egg retrieval day from the donor or, in the case of frozen cycle, on the day of oocytes thawing. This means that the partner needs to come to the clinic at least one day before or on the day of egg retrieval or thawing. This is standard protocol, however, patients should know that, should the partner arrive at the last minute, this may increase the risk of disrupting the program. This is because the quality of sperm is unknown on that particular day. Sperm quality can vary over time and may be of less quality on the day of the qualification appointment at the clinic than previously. Sperm parameters can be affected by various factors, including lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol intake or poor diet.

This is why patients should consider freezing sperm during their first visit to the clinic. In this way, your genetic material can be saved for the upcoming treatment and the risk of failure can be minimized if it turns out that the quality of sperm is unsuitable on the day of egg retrieval or thawing. When you have frozen sperm in the bank that had been tested before, you can use it at a later date.

Egg donation IVF treatment – timeline & milestones

Many patients who choose to have egg donation process for IVF abroad would like to know how often they would have to travel to the clinic and how long they would have to stay there. One of the most frequently asked questions is also: how long does the egg donation process take? The entire process may take up to 4-5 weeks, however, it is highly individual and depends on a number of factors.
You should bear in mind that such treatment involves a great deal of medical, legal and ethical responsibilities, both on behalf of the patient and the clinic. This is why certain stages of egg donation IVF process need to be looked at very closely.

Regardless of the number of visits at the clinic and details of the treatment, every IVF egg donation program process should have the following stages.

Egg donation IVF process step by step

StageIs the visit at the clinic necessary?Additional information
Medical qualification to have egg donation programIn most clinics yes. Some clinics offer remote qualification based on the medical data gathered. This can be discussed online.

EggDonationFriends.com recommendation: from the medical point of view it is better to visit the clinic in person
In case of online qualification, the clinic may ask you to send over your ultrasound scan report before such a consultation.

It is worth visiting the clinic in person. This way you will have a chance to see the clinic, meet the staff and the doctor and make a well-informed decision in selecting this clinic.
Selecting an egg donorTo confirm the egg recipient phenotype – depending on the country where the clinic is based.Depending on the country, there are different regulations regarding the phenotype of the egg donor and recipient.

EggDonationFriends.com recommendation: before the patient’s visit at the clinic an egg donor can be pre-booked based on the recipient’s phenotype.
Selecting a sperm donor - if applicableTo confirm the recipient and partner’s phenotype – depending on the country where the clinic is basedDepending on the country there are different regulations regarding sperm donor and partner phenotype matching.
Choosing an egg donation programYou can check the clinic’s offer online, from the comfort of your home. However, it is recommended that you choose a program in consultation with the doctor at the clinic.Clinics often offer various programs which differ in the number of guaranteed eggs or/and embryos or other parameters. These guarantees may influence the program’s success rate.
Signing documentsIn most clinics patients need to sign the agreement in person, often in the presence of a doctor.Study the documents carefully. Ask for an electronic version before you visit the clinic. Usually, there are many documents to sign. Reading them may take some time. Also, it is worth preparing some questions before your visit.
Choosing additional proceduresYou can choose additional procedures in the clinic during the consultation with the doctor. Depending on the patient’s medical case, additional procedures may vary.Selecting the right additional procedures for your medical case may influence the program’s success rates.

EggDonationFriends.com recommendation: we recommend having the following procedures: ICSI, blastocyst culture and AH (assisted hatching).
Preparing the uterus for embryo transferThis can be done remotely in cooperation with your local doctor.This is an important part of the process. With fresh donor eggs, the embryo transfer day cannot be rescheduled, unlike in the case of frozen embryos.
Embryo transferEmbryo transfer is performed in the clinicMake sure your doctor schedules your embryo transfer on a date when you can rest for a day after the procedure.

How long is the egg donation IVF treatment – number of visits

Depending on the clinic and the type of program (fresh or frozen eggs), the number of visits and their length can be different in different clinics.

One of the most frequently asked questions during the first contact with the patient with the clinic is a question about the number of visits. How many times do I have to visit the clinic? How long do I have to stay at the clinic? Clinics compete with one another in attracting new patients and offer various solutions to minimize the number of visits. Unfortunately for some patients, this may have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the treatment.

In most clinics it is possible to have donor eggs IVF treatment with a minimum two visits:

  1. Qualification visit – medical assessment of the patients, laboratory tests, selecting additional procedures, egg donor selection, signing the documents. You will need to stay abroad for one or two days. At this time your partner may also provide his sperm sample and have it frozen.
  2. Visit on the day of egg retrieval from donor/or egg thawing if frozen eggs from bank are used – partner provides sperm, egg fertilization, embryo transfer on day 3 or day 5 is performed. It is usually required that patients stay abroad for about 7 days.

You can also combine these two appointments in one trip and use the free time in between to relax and do some sightseeing.

While it is possible to have an egg donation program with only two visits in the clinic, it is worth bearing in mind that the aim of the treatment is, not to minimize the number of visits but to achieve a pregnancy and sometimes these two things may be mutually exclusive.

How does egg donation IVF process work

Donor Egg IVF program – Steps and Visits

Egg donation IVF and the risk of program cancellation

Any donor egg IVF program involves some degree of risk that the program may be cancelled. This may be for reasons beyond the control of the clinic or the doctor, for medical reasons that are hard to anticipate and assess. In other cases, cancellations may be associated with the clinic’s experience in handling such treatment. Nevertheless, every clinic experiences cancellations, with varying frequency. For patients travelling long distances to have their treatment, who need to plan their travel in advance, book flight tickets and accommodation, etc, a cancellation without prior notice, may unfortunately mean that they will have to bear extra costs.

In some cases, clinics offer another program at no extra cost or at a discount. Remember to ask the clinic what happens in case your program gets cancelled.

Read more about Donor Egg IVF program cancellation risk: Could my IVF program with donor eggs be cancelled for some reason?

Below you can find program elements which carry the risk of program cancellation and the average risk of cancellation in fresh and frozen donor egg programs. You can also check when a clinic is able to inform you about problems which may put the program at risk.

Travelling to a different country may pose some risks, too. Your flight may be delayed or cancelled. As a result, you may not arrive at the clinic on time for your embryo transfer. In such a situation you can have your embryos frozen and the transfer rescheduled. However, you may have to bear the additional costs of embryo freezing and FET (frozen embryo transfer). We recommend you ask the clinic if these procedures are included in the program cost, and, if not, what the cost would be.

Risk factorsWhen you will be informed about program cancellationEstimated risk
Unsuccessful hormonal stimulation of the egg donor, cancelled egg donor retrieval (fresh cycle)Minimum 2-3 days/maximum 7-9 days before the scheduled egg retrieval~2% of egg donors
No eggs to be retrieved (fresh cycle)One day before or on the day of egg retrieval~1% of egg donors
Low number or poor quality of retrieved eggs (fresh cycle)On the day of egg retrieval~1% of egg donors
Problems with egg thawing, unsatisfactory number of thawed eggs (frozen cycle)On the day of egg thawing in the IVF lab~2-5% of egg donors
No embryos available on day 3, poor quality of the partner’s sperm (fresh & frozen cycles)Day 2 or day 3 of embryo cultureDepending on partner’s sperm parameters
No embryos available on day 5 (fresh & frozen cycles)Day 4-5 of embryo cultureDepending on partner’s sperm parameters
Endometrium is not ready for the scheduled embryo transfer (fresh & frozen cycles)On the day of transfer or earlier if the patient is prepared remotely for the transfer in their home~4-6% of patients

Donor egg IVF program process – additional procedures at IVF laboratory

Egg donation programs offered by clinics often do not include any additional procedures, performed in the IVF lab, which can boost the efficacy of the IVF treatment. Patients need to pay extra if they want to have additional treatment procedures not included in program cost. Below you can find some of the most common IVF Laboratory procedures boosting the IVF success rates.

IVF LAB ProcedureFor whom?EDF recommendation
ICSIRecommended to all patients (in some countries the indication is a male infertility factor)Yes
IMSI/IMSI-MSOME or other similar proceduresRecommended if a male infertility factor is involved. The embryologist assesses the sperm under the microscope and selects a single sperm.Yes
*if a male infertility factor is involved
Blastocyst cultureRecommended to all patients. Embryo culture up to blastocyst stage - day 5.Yes.
In case of a program with day 3 embryo guarantee, this guarantee may be void if the blastocyst culture is extended to day 5.
Choosing an egg donation programYou can check the clinic’s offer online, from the comfort of your home. However, it is recommended that you choose a program in consultation with the doctor at the clinic.Clinics often offer various programs which differ in the number of guaranteed eggs or/and embryos or other parameters. These guarantees may influence the program’s success rate.
Embryo monitoring (Time Lapse/Embryoscope)Recommended to all patients even though there are no research papers showing its impact on treatment effectiveness. However, embryo development video or photos can be a nice keepsake for parents-to-be.No
*unless the patient wishes to keep the video
Choosing additional proceduresYou can choose additional procedures in the clinic during the consultation with the doctor. Depending on the patient’s medical case, additional procedures may vary.Selecting the right additional procedures for your medical case may influence the program’s success rates.

EggDonationFriends.com recommendation: we recommend having the following procedures: ICSI, blastocyst culture and AH (assisted hatching).
AH - assisted hatchingRecommended to all patients. Assisted hatching is a procedure where an embryologist performs a microscopic cut in the embryo shell.Yes
*In the past this procedure was performed only on thawed embryos. Nowadays it is also done on fresh embryos before transfer. It is believed that AH can increase implantation success rate by about 10% average.
Preimplantation genetic diagnostics –
embryo diagnostics (aneuploidy in chromosomes)
Recommended to all patients over the age of 35.
This examines embryos in order to detect chromosomal aneuploidy. Modern techniques such as NGS allow the examination of all 24 chromosomes. Aneuploidy may cause genetic diseases like Down, Patau syndrome. May also affect implantation rate and miscarriages.
Yes
*Patients should have medical indication for such diagnostics.

The risk of aneuploidy with IVF with donor oocytes is much lower than in IVF with own eggs. Donor eggs come from a young and healthy donor, so that the risk of aneuploidy equals population risk in the donor’s age group.

Another factor that may increase risk is partner’s age and the quality of sperm.

The patient’s concerns or fears of having an ill baby may also be an indication to have PGD. They may cause additional stress.
Patient monitoring after embryo transfer - implantation supervisionRecommended up to at least 4-6 week of pregnancy. At least 4-5 verifications. The doctor can then adjust drug dosage after embryo transfer. If you cannot continue this part of treatment with the clinic abroad, we recommend you find a local fertility clinic and have the necessary tests and consultations with a specialist near you. Such follow-ups can boost your chances of a successful pregnancy.Yes
*The basic tests e.g. BhCG, LH, Progesterone and Estradiol may be required. You should receive the test results on the same day and send them over to the clinic. In some countries, patients may experience difficulties having some lab tests done because of the national health system.

If you are in the process of selecting a clinic, if you have questions or doubts about a clinic’s offer, or if you are not sure what to ask the clinic, contact us via live chat, e-mail or phone. Our services are free of charge. We will be happy to answer your questions and offer advice.

Egg donation procedure pros and cons

Donor Egg IVF Process

Remember, before you go ask important questions first. The IVF Clinic should answer all of them. Make sure you got all answers before you decide.
Read more about questions you should ask a clinic before going for egg donation IVF: 7 questions to ask fertility clinics before egg donation treatment

About the Author

Aleksander Wiecki

Aleksander Wiecki

Aleksander is a marketer, patient’s experience manager and advocate of transparency and truth of IVF treatment. He has strong expertise and background in IVF industry including IVF clinics, Genetic Laboratories and IVF patients. Aleksander strongly believes that there is a gap between IVF Patients and IVF clinics. The gap where patients may fall for the most common IVF treatment traps. That’s why patients need help and support they don’t get from IVF clinics at this stage. The support which comes from an objective, trustworthy and reliable source. Aleksander is a regular guest on ESHRE annual meetings, Fertility Show in London, Fertility Forum, IMTJ - Medical Travel Summit and Fertility Exhibitions and conferences around the world. LinkedIn >>>

Article reviewed by

Natalia Szlarb

Natalia Szlarb

Dr Natalia Szlarb is a Medical Director at IVF Spain, clinic in Alicante, Spain. She graduated from a medical university in Poland in 2002 and then has worked in gynaecology and obstetrics wards at several German hospitals. During her medical studies she also took part in international internships in Egypt, Brazil and Poland. In 2011 Dr Szlarb obtained her PhD diploma in Immunology in the United States of America. Since 2013 she has been involved with IVF Spain. She has extensive experience in IVF with donor eggs and is known by patients as a friendly and warm doctor.Dr. Szlarb speaks fluent English, Polish, German and Russian. In the EggDonationFriends’ webinar she was talking about the process every fertility patients needs to go through when undergoing IVF treatment using donor oocytes outside their home country, specifically in Spain. Dr Natalia Szlarb, as a medical specialist, explained how to prepare for such treatment and travel, what medical records or prescriptions are needed, how many appointments are usually required for different types of treatment and what the treatment milestones are.

9 Comments

  1. As I am Swedish and 48 years I am not allowed to be given the opportunity of donor egg and donor sperm, alternative a surplus embryo from couple. How do I approach a nurse/gybecologist in my country for help with medicin and monitoring before and after fertilised egg is received?

    • From my personal experience the time of ivf egg donation treatment depend on personal needs and medical history. We had 3 on-line consultations about ivf process and organization of the treatment with clinics in spain and cyprus. One of them was free of charge (spain). There are a lot of paperwork we had to sign and most of them must be signed off at clinic. Anyway we spent 1 week in spain plus 2 on-line pre-consultations so it wasn’t long process. It took us about 1 month. The only thing you all should be aware – the phenotype matching in spain is regulated by law – so the clinic has to find the donor mathing yourself – sometimes it may take some time. In our case it took about 2 weeks.

    • Hi Zineb,
      do you have any preferences as for destination and type of treatment? We will e-mail you with a few suggestions.

  2. Very good article showing what the ivf process step by step. Obviously it’s just a guide/hint how your ivf treatment with donor eggs may look like. I really like the risk factors and additional ivf lab procedures tables, they’re very informative – and honestly I wasn’t aware of the risks of program cancellation at all. It’s definitely worth asking the clinics how it works before you go there…

  3. I’ve had 3 fresh egg cycles and all failed. I think the first cycle failed because the doctor did the transfer in spite of thefact that my lining was too thin. and we were never offered any additional procedures.after reading this article I think I would choose frozen cycle.with frozne eggs you can have the trsnfer when you’re ready

  4. My whole ivf procedure took exactly 6 weeks. It was my fourth one and it was a success! <3 sometimes clinics tell you sth cannot be done, dont listen to them, first read articles like this and get information before you speak to the doctor. thats what I did and this made me more confident in the process

  5. thank you! finally ivf egg donation process explained in simple words. Me and my wife are planning to have ivf abroad in Sept. we’re preparing now. very useful info

  6. Other countries might not have the same limits, so if you use donated sperm, eggs or embryos from abroad your child may be genetically related to many more children.

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