5 most common concerns about egg donation

Bogna Sobkiewicz, MD
Gynecologist & Obstetrician
Sławomir Sobkiewicz, PhD
Gynaecologist, obstetrician & endocrinologist

Donor Eggs

5 most common concerns about egg donation #OnlinePatientMeetingation
From this video you will find out:

In this Online Patient Meeting, you will find the answers to these questions:

  • how important is the egg donation law/legislation? What should I pay attention to?
  • what is the max. BMI for egg donation programmes?
  • how many embryos can be transferred in Poland?
  • what information can I get about an egg donor in Poland?


Egg donation treatment - most common concerns

Egg donation may not be an easy choice for everyone. There are questions and concerns that need to be addressed before you begin your treatment. During this online meeting, two experts answered patients’ questions live – Sławomir Sobkiewicz, PhD, gynecologist, obstetrician and endocrinologist and the co-founder of Salve Medica in Poland and Bogna Sobkiewicz, MD, Gynecologist & Obstetrician at Salve Medica.

- Questions and Answers

How significant is the law/ legislation for egg donation programs? What should I pay attention to?

We always have to act as the law says. In Poland, we cannot perform an IVF treatment for same-sex couples or single women. Surrogacy is also not allowed. There is also an age limit in Poland, and we do not conduct tests on the embryos, only if there is a medical reason for it.

Is there an age limit for the recipient at your clinic/ in Poland?

In Poland, the law does not say that there is an age limit, but in general, most of the clinics have an age limit which is 50.

What is the maximum BMI index for egg donation programmes?

It is difficult to say, but of course, it will be better if the BMI is in the normal range, so no more than 30. Although BMI at 35 is, in my opinion, a maximum BMI. When it is over 35, we advise to either try to go on a diet or do the operation before proceeding with egg donation. We know that high BMI can influence the success rate, so we do not advise patients to go ahead with egg donation when they have a very high BMI. We encourage such patients to, first lose some weight and then evaluate their options.

How many embryos can be transferred, at the clinic in Poland?

In Poland, there is a limited amount of embryos that can be transferred. It is a maximum of 2 embryos that we can transfer. In Europe, it is recommended to transfer one embryo. Transferring two embryos may increase your chances, but it can also cause a higher rate of miscarriages. In patients that are going for egg donation and are over 40, the twin pregnancy can be riskier. The preterm live birth rate is higher. So you always need to think about those things, in the end, we want to ensure you’ll be able to take your baby home.

What information can I get about the donor in Poland?

Egg donation in Poland is anonymous. We can say the age of the egg donor, or if they have children or not, if they already took part in any previous egg donation programs, blond group, phenotype features. We do not reveal the details of the donor social status. The donors are thoroughly checked, we evaluate their physical and mental health. We always ask our donors about their health status but also about their families health status, it is not allowed for us to see the family, so we always ask about it. It’s their free will to tell us everything, but most of the time donors are open, and there are no problems with that. They do not allow us to share their photo. Not all women that come to our clinic are becoming egg donors. We always evaluate all the things, so even though a young woman is healthy, she might not be accepted as a donor. All of our donors are of Polish nationality.

Does matching the phenotype of the donor vs recipient guarantee that a child will look like me?

We have some features which we evaluate when we try to take eggs from a donor for egg donation programs. We check the blood group and other features, but it is difficult to say that the child will look like the future recipients. You should know that when we’re mixing eggs and sperm, it is still possible that the children will not look exactly like their parents. I always say to my patients, that f.e. in my family, I’m the only one who is blonde, and I’m very similar to my parents, but nobody has blond hair like me. So even if you are the biological child, it doesn’t mean you will look like your parents.

Should I use fresh or frozen donor eggs? Is the outcome from the frozen donor eggs lower than from fresh oocytes?

In my opinion, there is no difference because we are working 12 years with vitrified eggs and our embryologists are very experienced. When vitrification was introduced in Europe in 2008, we learned this procedure in Spain, and we collaborated with people from Japan. So our embryologists are very experienced. I know that future recipients prefer using fresh eggs, and we also organize it and perform such donor programs, and the frozen sperm. In our experience though, with our frozen eggs, we have from another IVF program, we receive the same success rate as in the fresh cycle. It depends on the experience of embryologists, and it’s always easier to conduct the process with the frozen eggs, for patients who live abroad, it’s also easier to organize everything. Vitrification of embryos is not damaging the embryos, and it is the way we perform a frozen donor cycle, in the majority.

What is an optimal number of oocytes recipient gets from an egg donor for the egg donation cycle?

In Polish law, there is a limited number of oocytes that can be inseminated. Therefore, we give recipients six eggs, and in this program, on average we receive two – four to five embryos. This way we can choose the best embryos that will be transferred in the first cycle.

Is it better to have a guaranteed number of oocytes or guaranteed number of embryos in egg donation programs?

We guarantee the number of oocytes because the number of embryos depends on the status of semen as well. We can perform our procedure regularly, and as always, but we can not know how many embryos will be created. When we inseminate six eggs, it is the maximum eggs we can offer in the egg donation program, the average number of embryos we receive is 3-4, they can be of different quality.

What about miscarriages after egg donation programs? Are they statistically lower than after IVF cycles with own eggs?

When women are over 35, the quality of the eggs is diminishing faster every year. The miscarriage rate is higher and higher every year. The miscarriage rate is much lower with the egg donation programs, I would like to say that a lot of patients that come to us, they already have some history of miscarriage, and it’s crucial to diagnose other problems that caused the miscarriage in the past before they come to us. The IVF procedure is not a solution for the miscarriage history I need to emphasize that.

I am 46 years old and have done three egg donation cycles. The first one was fresh and resulted in a chemical pregnancy. The second with the same donor, FET was negative. FET with the second donor was also negative. I did a transfusion for the last two IVF rounds but still nothing. No one has explained to me why it did not work. I have hypothyroidism, I am obese and also have a retroverted uterus. What would you advise me to look into?

There should be performed more thorough tests of semen because, in the majority of clinics, they only performed standard semen analysis, and we know that there are some other things that should be looked into, so extended tests will be required. Another aspect is the quality of embryos which were transferred, in those previous 3 cycles. As well as, the number of eggs the recipient received, how many of them were inseminated, and what was the quality of semen. Also, the genetic status of both man and woman should be checked, as sometimes it could be a reason for miscarriage, another reason could be immunology. When it comes to the retroverted uterus, and as long as it is a normal uterus, it is not a problem.  Hypothyroidism, if it is well treated, again that won’t be a problem. It is very difficult to find the one reason for something going wrong, and it requires to perform a lot more tests to be able to find the solution.

In Ukraine, donors should have a child of their own. Do you select a donor with proven fertility, or is there an option to have such a donor?

For our donors, it is not necessary to have a child of their own, but a lot of them already do have them. You can request a donor with proven fertility at our clinic. Some of our donors, about 50% do have children, but the most important is to have younger donors who are in good health and have a good quality of oocytes.

Do you also have Asian donors in Poland?

We do not have Asian donors in our clinic. Most of the polish clinic have only Caucasian egg donors.

I am Caucasian but would like to use a Spanish donor. Can I choose the ethnicity of my donor, or am I only able to use a Caucasian donor?

Unfortunately, we don’t have Spanish donors available. We don’t import the donor eggs from Spain as well. We always try to match the phenotype with the recipient as much as possible, but as I’ve mentioned, we only have Caucasian egg donors available.

Do you have 100% money-back guarantee IVF egg donation programs like other clinics in Europe and Spain?

It is difficult, to give a 100% guarantee in the egg donation program. We can guarantee the number of embryos in our programs, but we do not have a money-back guarantee program and are not able to guarantee a pregnancy. Successful IVF does not only depend on the state of embryos but also the status of the recipient.

What is the likelihood of fatality of the egg donor? I have read about OHSS causing severe side effects and fatalities?

OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) can happen when you are stimulated for the egg collection, and it won’t be a problem in the donor program. When we are talking about egg donors, you should know that we do care about them, so we do not overstimulate the donors. We take care of all donors the same way as with our other patients. It may be hard at times to adjust the number of hormones, of course, but it can happen with any other patient.

Does the donor need to have the same blood group?

We try to select a donor with the same blood group as the recipient. We take into consideration the blood group of male and female. We try to find the best solution because if the blood group is not matched, it can be problematic for our patients in the future.

Have you had cases where a recipient get health problems caused by the egg they received?”

No, it’s impossible, when we transfer only one or two embryos and the recipient doesn’t have any health problems, that won’t cause any issues. Even if the health problem occurs during pregnancy, it’s not because of the eggs received, it’s just because of the whole health status of the woman and the pregnancy. Egg donation is not the reason.

Can you explain/describe that the process is for the recipient as in time, number of visits in Poland etc. including what kind of procedure/medicine the receiver has to take (and if it has to be picked up in Poland)?

In our clinic, first, we are in touch with the patients via email, and we talk with the patient, ask for the detail and adjust the program. The patient can choose an egg donation program, they need to pay in advance, we look for the donor for them, after that we encourage our patients to come to the clinic during their cycle, before the transfer to provide them with medication, we do the embryo scratching because we believe it helps us to introduce the catheter inside the uterus, and we will see if we will have any problems during the embryo transfer. The patient then comes in about 10th – 9th day of the cycle and needs to stay in Poland for about one week or ten days. We do the ultrasound, and we conduct the embryo transfer. When we use husband’s sperm, he also needs to come before starting the egg donation treatment because we need to evaluate the semen sample, not only a basic test, but we perform the more detailed tests as it is important for us. We vitrify semen which will be used in the donor program. We always want to meet the woman as well, at this time because we need to evaluate the uterus we can talk about previous programs and problems. Sometimes we find that this will help with improving success.
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Bogna Sobkiewicz, MD

Bogna Sobkiewicz, MD

Bogna Sobkiewicz, MD, graduated from the medical department at the Medical University of Łódź, Poland, in 2013. Today she is finishing the specialization in gynecology and obstetrics. However, she has been interested in the issues of infertility since the beginning of her medical education. At the university, she joined the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) and started to attend the annual meetings. She is also a member of ASRI (The American Society for Reproductive Immunology), PTG (the Polish Society for Reproductive Medicine), PTMRiE (Polish Society of Reproductive Medicine and Embryology), ESGE (European Society for Gynecological Endoscopy). Her attention is focused on endoscopy, small procedures and counselling. In her free time, she broadens her knowledge about diets, she goes on bicycle trips (if the Polish weather permits), but generally, she uses her holidays to visit the far ends of the world. She speaks Polish, English, German, and basic French.
Sławomir Sobkiewicz, PhD

Sławomir Sobkiewicz, PhD

Sławomir Sobkiewicz, PhD, is a gynecologist, obstetrician and endocrinologist in the field of gynecology and reproduction as well as a specialist in the field of treating infertility with 32 years of experience. He graduated the Faculty of Medicine at the Medical University of Łódź, Poland, and took an MBA course in management of health care units. Originator and co-founder of Salve Medica Medical Centre in Łódź, which has been on the medical market since 2008. He is a member of numerous scientific societies, among others, the Polish Society for Reproductive Medicine, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), the Polish Andrological Society and the Polish Gynecological Society. In 2013 he became the President of the Association of Polish Centers for Infertility Treatment and Supported Reproduction. His hobbies include history, playing badminton and watching women's field hockey.
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Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.