Where Do My Eggs Go Next?

For most egg donors the thought process surrounding donation concludes with the retrieval procedure. Many of our donors tell us they leave the IVF facility feeling immense pride and satisfaction but without much thought as to what happens next to their eggs. In case you are wondering about the road your eggs will travel on their path to becoming children, here’s a look at what could happen next.

Within six hours of your donation the eggs are usually fertilized. This can be done by either placing a concentrated amount of sperm on each egg or by injecting a single sperm into each egg.

Within 18 hours IVF doctors will look at the eggs, now zygotes, to evaluate their progress. Only fertilized eggs that are growing normally will continue to be kept in incubation and monitored.

Over the next several days the zygotes will be closely monitored and grown in an environment meant to mimic the condition inside a woman’s fallopian tube. While many of the eggs will continue to grow and thrive in this environment, not all will survive. Some have genetic abnormalities and others will stop growing for unknown reasons.

During this growth period an embryologist will continue to monitor and grade the embryos on a scale of one to five, with one being the highest. It is also during this time that chromosomal testing may be done on the growing embryos to check for any abnormalities.

By day five your eggs are now what we call blastocysts. On this day the grading system switches from numerals to the standard lettered grading system you’re familiar with from schooling with grades ranging from A-F. The embryos will receive one grade for each of the three parts of development: the inner cell mass, the trophectoderm and the cavity. A top rated embryo will receive a grade of AAA, though this designation is rare.

Finally, the IVF doctor will decide to either transfer the embryo into the surrogate or intended mother’s uterus or to freeze the embryos for later use. If a fresh transfer is chosen, your eggs will go from inside of your body to inside of the carrier’s body in under a week.

It is rare for all embryos to be transferred at the same time. Usually intended parents choose to have one or more of the remaining embryos frozen for potential future transfers.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 22 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for the last two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the American Fertility Association, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 28 years and their two teenage daughters.