We know that egg donation and in-vitro fertilisation are personal. Within our team, we have personally gone through over 30 IVF treatments of our own as infertility patients, and nine as egg donors. Every single member of the Nurture Egg Donor Program team has personal experience with fertility treatments, so we’ve written a quick start-to-finish guide to IVF treatment to act as a helping hand for anyone who might be feeling a little overwhelmed with it all.
Stage 1: Stimulation
During this early part of IVF, the egg donor’s ovaries will be stimulated to produce an optimal number of eggs. Donors will be shown how to self-administer the follicle-stimulating injections, which will last for between seven and 10 days. The aim is to get their ovaries to produce a healthy number of follicles, each of which could contain an egg.
Stage 2: Retrieval
Once the ultrasounds show that the egg donor has follicles of the ideal size and number, it’s time for the retrieval phase. Around 36 hours before retrieving the eggs, the donor will receive an hCG (human Chorionic Gonadotropin) injection to initiate the eggs’ final maturation. On the day, retrieval is done under mild sedation using a quick, painless ultrasound-guided fine needle suction technique.
Stage 3: Fertilisation
Retrieved eggs are then fertilised either through ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection) or are placed into a petri dish containing a special growth medium. This lets the eggs/embryos continue developing as if in the fallopian tubes. Sperm is then placed with the eggs in the dish, which is kept in an incubator set at the same temperature as the human body.
Eggs are examined under a microscope the next day, determining whether fertilisation occurred. The resulting embryos are then ready to transfer to a uterus between two and five days later.
Stage 4: Transfer
In steps the intended parent. Fertilised embryos need to be transferred to the uterus, which is done using a catheter at the vagina opening. Transferred embryos are usually one or two in number, and it is important to remember that more embryos transferred means a greater chance of multiple pregnancies. The embryo transfer lasts a few minutes and most don’t find it uncomfortable at all.
Stage 5: Support
The two-week phase between embryo transfer and your first pregnancy test is called the luteal phase, or as it is colloquially known – the dreaded “two-week wait”. The moms to be are prescribed progesterone to take during this time, which is vital to support a healthy pregnancy. Once a test has shown to be positive, the intended parent will have to wait another two weeks before undergoing an ultrasound to look for embryo implantation and a fetal heartbeat. If both are present, conception has taken place and the intended parents are officially pregnant.
Heard of the Nurture Egg Donor Program?
We’re South Africa’s longest-running, most successful egg donation programme. Nurture abides by the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynecological Endoscopy Regulations (SASREG) egg donation guidelines & ethics. Our Frozen Donor Egg Program, in partnership with Aevitas Fertility Clinic, is the first of its kind to achieve FDA accreditation. Reach out to our team of knowledgeable fertility experts with lived IVF experiences to start a conversation.