What is egg donation?
What is egg donation? It is considered one of the fertility treatments for women who, due to some medical reason, have no chance or extreme difficulty conceiving with their eggs. In general, the treatment is based on the assumption that a woman will receive eggs from an egg donor, perform in vitro fertilization with her husband’s sperm, implant the fertilized eggs into the uterus of the woman who wishes to become a mother, and conceive and give birth to a child on her own. Therefore, the wife’s genes will not be passed on to the newborn child, but the husband’s genes will be. The child born will have no blood relation to the wife, but will retain a blood relation to the husband.
Egg donation treatment in Japan
The Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology currently restricts IVF by egg donation. Although these restrictions are not legally binding, domestic IVF centers are generally members of the Japanese Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Therefore, they are bound by society’s rules in various aspects. In practice, the reality is that egg donation treatment is not performed at domestic facilities due to their position to comply with the regulations of society.
On the other hand, a few clinics in Japan have established their ethical standards, and offer egg donation to a very limited number of couples. However, the conditions to meet these standards are rigorous, such as several years of ethical review before the actual treatment. It is difficult to say that all couples who wish to have children will be able to have their wishes realized. In addition, the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology strictly prohibit exchanging rewards or money to secure egg donors, so the only realistic option is to ask the egg donor’s sisters, close friends, or volunteers willing to donate their eggs free of charge. The number of donors who meet these conditions is extremely limited. Therefore, egg donation treatment in Japan is practically impossible.
Egg donation treatment involving international travel
Since egg donation treatment in Japan is practically impossible, many egg donation treatments have been performed in Hawaii, Taiwan, and other facilities that accept a large number of Japanese patients overseas. The donor underwent egg retrieval there, and the couple receiving the donation traveled overseas to coincide with the donor’s egg retrieval, and IVF was performed at a local clinic using eggs retrieved from the donor, and the husband’s sperm collected locally, followed by embryo transfer there. However, this required the couple to travel to an overseas facility for at least two weeks. This was not always realistic, due to the work schedule and costs associated with travel other than for treatment. In addition, because overseas travel itself has become more difficult due to the Corona disaster, a new method has emerged whereby the couple receiving the donation does not have to travel overseas, but instead undergoes the embryo transfer at a facility in Japan where they have received fertility treatment in the past.
Flow of egg donation treatment without overseas travel
Egg donation treatment that does not require overseas travel is generally performed as follows.
- Cryopreserve the husband’s sperm at a domestic clinic in advance.
- The frozen sperm is transported from the domestic clinic to the overseas clinic.
- At the overseas clinic, the donor conducts egg retrieval, and in vitro fertilization is performed using the husband’s sperm transported from Japan and the donor’s eggs to secure fertilized eggs, which are then cryopreserved.
- The cryopreserved fertilized eggs are transported from the overseas clinic to the facility where the patient has been receiving fertility treatment in Japan.
- The woman receiving the donor embryos will continue to have them transferred at the clinic in Japan (embryo transfer to pregnancy determination at the clinic in Japan).
Compared to methods requiring couples to travel abroad, this method has the advantage that treatment can be continued at a clinic in Japan, where the couple is accustomed to going. With the recent difficulty of traveling abroad due to the corona disaster, this treatment method may be an extremely effective and less burdensome means of treatment. In addition, since the egg donor retrieval is performed overseas, the overseas facility will be the primary treatment provider, and the domestic facility will act as a backup facility.
Domestic Agent Companies
Egg donation treatment requires the coordination of four parties: the patient couple (the egg donor couple), the donor (the egg donor), the overseas treatment facility (where the donor undergoes egg retrieval), and the domestic backup facility. The domestic agency company facilitates this process. Couples who wish to undergo egg donation treatment at our clinic must first meet with the counselor in charge of this agency, and then sign an individual contract with the agency before beginning treatment. Our clinic provides couples who wish to undergo egg donation treatment with a number of reputable and experienced agents in Japan. Patients first meet with the counselor in charge and select the agency that best meets their needs.
Indications for egg donation
The medical indications for egg donation are as follows.
- Decline in ovarian function, egg loss, and egg quality due to aging (so-called egg aging)
- Ovarian dysfunction
- Ovarian removal by surgery or other means (cancer, endometriosis, ovarian torsion, etc.)
- Premature menopause
- Spontaneous menopause
- Multiple unsuccessful IVF attempts with autologous eggs
To meet the needs of the many patients who require egg donation treatment for medical reasons, we will provide the necessary backup treatment as a backup clinic in Japan for patients who wish to undergo egg donation treatment.
Specifically, we will provide the following services required with egg donation treatment.
- Transfer of frozen sperm to overseas egg retrieval facilities
- Acceptance of fertilized eggs frozen at overseas egg retrieval facilities
- Thawed embryo transfer treatment using fertilized eggs transferred from overseas
- Pregnancy determination after thawed embryo transfer and follow-up after pregnancy
- Referrals to obstetric facilities
In addition, for egg donation treatment that does not require overseas travel, a coordinating agency is needed to smoothly coordinate between the domestic facility (such as our clinic) where the treatment will take place and the overseas facility where the egg retrieval will take place, secure donors, and so on. A domestic agent company will be responsible for all of these tasks.
- Costs associated with sperm freezing (actual transportation costs will be charged separately by the shipping company)
- Embryo transfer costs (thawing, embryo transfer, medications, tests) for fertilized eggs returned from transport
- Price for follow-up services after conception (medication, tests, medical examinations, etc.)
- Referral fees to obstetric facilities (referral letter preparation costs)
Patients who receive egg donation directly contract with domestic agents. Therefore, there is no relationship of interest or affiliation between the agent company and our clinic. For this reason, we do not receive any gratuities or benefits from agents or any costs incurred outside of the actual treatment. Please rest assured.
Since the opening of our clinic, we have listened to the wishes of many couples who wish to have children, and we have worked diligently to fulfill as many of those wishes as possible. While we have seen many couples whose wishes have been fulfilled through treatment, we have also met couples whose wishes could not be fulfilled. Many of the causes of infertility today are considered to be aging-related infertility, and in reality, some couples are unable to have children from their eggs, despite all possible treatments. Many fertility clinics have always considered egg donation treatment taboo due to the regulations of the Japan Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology. However, this treatment is a common option for infertility treatment in other countries outside Japan. Due to differences in ethical and religious backgrounds regarding the choice to have children, it is not possible to discuss the right or wrong of egg donation treatment in a uniform manner. Considering the recent social trend toward diversity, we believe there should be a variety of options for couples to have children according to the wishes of each patient. We do not feel comfortable with a blanket ban on egg donation treatment. We believe if a couple chooses a treatment method after careful consideration of a wide variety of options, that treatment method should be respected to the fullest extent possible. We do not consider egg donation treatment taboo, but rather an option for regular infertility treatment. We will do our very best to help couples who wish to have a child fulfill their dreams.
Reservations & Inquiries
Please feel free to contact us first.
We will provide total support, including guidance on agents in Japan.
We will guide you to several domestic agents, but they are not affiliated companies. However, we are not affiliated with any company, so we ask patients to make individual contracts with agents they are comfortable with.
How to make an appointment
- Consultations are by appointment only.
- Please make your first appointment by phone or web appointment.
If you have any questions about our treatment methods, policies, or anything else, please feel free to contact us.