Decoding Fertility Terms: Donor Egg Cycles

Navigating the third-party fertility world can be confusing and overwhelming. Not only is it an emotionally charged time for any parent, but the fertility-specific terminology can be particularly tricky. There is a lot of complex medical jargon that gets tossed around, and it can take parents a while to translate it all.

At Donor Concierge, we walk our clients through each step of the process, and all of the fertility procedures, steps, and terms that they will be encountering. We love sharing the knowledge our team has built over the years, and we don’t want any parent to feel like they have to play catch-up during their egg donor or surrogate search. So we’re breaking down the insider lingo that you need to know!

FDA Screening – All egg donor candidates have to meet FDA requirements, so they undergo a screening before being able to donate their eggs. This screening is extensive, and includes:

  • Drug screening – Includes tobacco, alcohol, marijuana and other drugs.
  • STD screening – includes testing for HIV, HepC, Chlamydia and other sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Sexual partner screening – If a gestational carrier is sexually active her sexual partner must also be screened for infectious diseases

Egg Donor Complication Insurance – Intended parents are required to provide health insurance for their egg donor prior to any egg retrieval. This covers any side effects that might arise from the stimulation and egg retrieval.

RE – Reproductive Endocrinologist - This is the physician who oversees your entire third-party fertility process.

PGS – Preimplantation genetic screening, or PGS, is a genetic screening which determines if the cells in an embryo have the correct number of chromosomes. Chromosomal abnormalities such as too many or too few chromosomes are among the most common reasons for failure of embryos to implant, and are more likely to happen as a woman’s eggs get older. PGS does not test for a specific disease, but it can detect Down syndrome.

PGD – Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD, is a type of genetic screening which detects the presence of genes connected to specific diseases, including:

  • Translocations of genes, which can cause birth defects, mental retardation, or miscarriage
  • Huntington disease
  • Marfan syndrome
  • Recessive genetic diseases such as cystic fibrosis or Tay-Sachs disease
  • Genetic diseases carried on the X chromosome, such as hemophilia or
  • Duchenne muscular dystrophy
  • Gender, which allows you to avoid an X-linked genetic disease (mostly boys have those), or balance your family
  • Abnormalities in the number of chromosome

PGT – Sometimes both PGS and PGD are known collectively as PGT, or Preimplantation Genetic Testing.

Sperm Analysis and FDA Testing – This tests sperm motility and sperm count to gauge the health of the sperm. This will be done either through a cryobank if using frozen donor sperm, or during the first phase of clinical investigations by your fertility doctor.

Stimulation Phase – This is the phase in which your egg donor will be taking follicle stimulating hormones, which encourage more eggs to mature so that they can be retrieved and fertilized. Normally during ovulation, hormones will make a woman’s follicles mature, and one will become the “dominant” follicle that develops into an egg. This process is mimicked in the stimulation phase, but the hormones your egg donor takes will create more “dominant” follicles, and thus more eggs.

Synchronization of Cycles – This is the phase where your egg donor’s cycle is synced with your cycle using birth control pills and Lupron (Leuprolide Acetate).

Trigger – The trigger is the hCG injection that your egg donor will take 36 hours prior to the egg retrieval.

hCG – Human Chorionic Gonadotripin – This is a hormone produced in early pregnancy that helps the eggs mature. In egg donation, it is injected so that the eggs can develop and be retrieved 36 hours later.

Egg Retrieval – Your RE uses an ultrasound-guided needle introduced vaginally that is gently inserted into each ovary and the eggs are retrieved from the follicles within the ovaries.

Transfer of Embryo(s) – In the final stage of the process, the fertilized embryo(s) are placed into the intended mother or surrogate’s uterus.

FET – Frozen Embryo Transfer - Frozen embryo transfers are becoming more common for egg donor and surrogacy cycles because they can help streamline the process. They can also be a good option for those doing embryo testing.

We hope this was helpful for anyone navigating the complexities of third-party fertility. Still have questions or want to learn more about all things Donor Concierge?
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