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Donating Extra Eggs From IVF Does Not Compromise Woman's Chance of Pregnancy, Live Birth, Study Says

November 5, 2003

Women who participate in fertility clinics' egg-sharing programs -- in which a woman donates some of her eggs produced through in vitro fertilization treatments to an infertile couple -- do not compromise their chances of becoming pregnant or having a live birth, according to a study in the November issue of the journal Human Reproduction, Reuters Health reports (Rauscher, Reuters Health, 11/3). According to the study, egg sharing is an "effective way to expedite the waiting time for [donor egg] recipients and to provide treatment for patients who need help funding their own fertility treatment" (Thum et al., Human Reproduction, November 2003). Researchers from London's Lister Fertility Clinic, which has been operating a formal egg-sharing program since January 1998, evaluated 276 egg-sharing cycles involving 192 women who agreed to share their eggs, 274 recipient cycles involving 246 women who received donor eggs and 1,098 standard IVF cycles involving 718 women (European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology release, 10/29). To qualify to share eggs, women must be between the ages of 21 and 35; test negative for HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other diseases; have no history of inheritable disorders; and be "in a stable relationship," according to the study. Egg sharers donated their eggs anonymously and received no monetary compensation because paid egg donation is prohibited in England, according to the study. The egg-sharing program aims to produce eight eggs in the egg sharer, so that both the sharer and the receiver have four eggs, according to the study (Human Reproduction, November 2003).

Researchers divided participants into three groups: egg sharers, egg recipients and non-egg sharers ages 36 or younger. Researchers compared the doses and duration of hormone treatment needed for ovarian stimulation, the number of eggs collected and donated, and the fertilization, pregnancy and live birth rates (ESHRE release, 10/29). Researchers found no significant difference in pregnancy rates among the three groups: egg sharers had a 42% pregnancy rate, compared with 41% for egg recipients and 40% for non-egg sharers, Reuters Health reports. Researchers also found no significant difference for live birth rates among the groups, with 33% for egg sharers, 29% for egg recipients and 31% for non-egg sharers (Reuters Health, 11/3). In addition, differences in the number of eggs collected, the number of mature follicles and the amount of hormone treatment administered between egg sharers and non-egg sharers was not significant (Human Reproduction, November 2003). Researchers also found that egg sharers do not have an increased risk of ovarian hyperstimulation. Another study of the psychological and emotional impact of egg-sharing programs is underway and results are expected in 2004, according to the ESHRE release. Study co-author Dr. Hossam Abdalla said, "We need to know how a patient would feel if they did not fall pregnant and the recipient does, or vice-versa" (ESHRE release, 10/29).

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