Submitted by Kate Seldman Wed 06/29/2011
Egg sharing is a fertility treatment that can dramatically lower the cost of IVF. If a woman has already undergone IVF without success, and if her lab-created embryos aren’t growing properly, she may want to consider undergoing IVF again with donated eggs. Egg donation can be very expensive – it generally costs $25,000-$35,000, which is $10,000-$15,000 more than a traditional cycle of IVF. Egg sharing can save $15,000 or more. In egg sharing, a woman who is doing IVF shares her eggs with another IVF patient who needs an egg donor. Women have to undergo a battery of tests if they wish to share their eggs with another patient, and not all women will be suitable egg donors. Different clinics have different criteria for selecting egg-sharing candidates, but generally a woman needs to be under 35 years old and have good levels of follicle stimulating hormone, or FSH. Egg donors will take a blood test to determine their FSH levels – most clinics want the levels to be 9 or below, as this means a woman will respond well to ovarian stimulant drugs and thus produce more eggs. She’ll also be tested for STDs and have her chromosomes analyzed. Most clinics also require egg sharers to go to counseling to prepare them for the weighty decision to give their genetic material to someone else. Egg sharers don’t usually know who will be receiving their eggs. The clinic will try to match the sharer’s and donor’s physical appearance as closely as possible. Ideally, the egg sharer will produce eight eggs at minimum – she’ll get four, and she’ll donate four. If she doesn’t produce enough eggs to share, most clinics let her keep them all for herself at no additional cost, or donate them all and do another IVF cycle at reduced cost without having to share. If she produces more than 12 eggs, the clinic might ask her to share with more than one recipient. If she produces an uneven number of eggs, the majority of clinics will let her keep the extra one rather than having her donate it. After the egg sharing procedure is complete, each woman waits to see if her embryos are growing in the lab, and if they are, each woman will have them transferred to her uterus. Nature hopefully then takes over, the eggs implant in the walls of both women’s uteruses, and they become pregnant.