Egg donation requires the stimulation of your ovaries with hormones to bring a number of eggs to maturity, then retrieving the eggs through a minor surgical procedure.
In order to become an egg donor, you will need to make a number of trips to a fertility clinic. First, you will need to be screened to make sure you qualify. For your screening, you will meet with a social worker or psychologist, and a Fertility Doctor. You will have a gynecological exam and blood tests to check for genetic and infectious diseases.
Once approved to move forward, the clinic will then set a schedule for the egg donation (or the “cycle”) and you will go on birth control pills or a drug called Lupron that will temporarily stop ovulation. This gets your cycle synchronized with the recipient’s. Then you will begin your daily injection of hormones which lasts about eight to twelve days. You do the injections yourself. The nurses will teach you how; it is easy and does not hurt. Then every other day or so you will have to stop by the clinic, usually first thing in the morning, to test your blood and (sometimes) have an ultrasound. These monitoring visits usually take no more than a half hour or so, but they are important to see how you are responding to the medications. Once the doctor sees enough mature eggs the egg retrieval will be planned.
From screening to retrieval, an egg donation cycle takes up to about three months. About four weeks of this period is waiting for test results, when there is little for you to do. You should know the cycle dates far enough in advance to adjust your schedule accordingly. If working through an egg donation agency, you may be able to start right away or you may have to wait a few weeks to get matched with a recipient
Most women tolerate the egg donation process very well. Towards the end of the stimulation phase you may experience symptoms similar to early pregnancy or PMS: bloating, fatigue, etc. You may be a little sore and tender after the retrieval, but that will go away after a day or two. Although rare, the most common complication is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which results in bloating and pain. When hyperstimulation occurs, it's important to go back to the clinic and have it treated.
There are about ten thousand donor egg cycles in the US every year. Many more women go through this same process in order to get pregnant using their own eggs. It is a common procedure but not without risks. It is important to go over all the side effects and risks with the nurses and doctor at the clinic to gain complete understanding. You will need to abstain from sexual activity during the stimulation phase, and must follow all the directions precisely. The fertility nurses at the clinic are there for support at all times. You should have all your questions answered and feel fully informed before going ahead.
No relationship between egg donation and future fertility has been clearly established, although research is continuing.
Egg donation does not deplete your ovarian reserve. Each month you release a number of eggs, but only one comes to maturity, generally. The hormones administered in the donation process stimulate more than one to reach maturity. Women in their 20s have hundreds of thousands of viable eggs, although the number diminishes over time.
You must be over 21 and in excellent health with a normal height and weight (your body mass index, or BMI, should not exceed 29). You must be familiar with the medical history of your parents and extended family (so women who were adopted traditionally are ineligible). You should not smoke, drink, or engage in risky behaviors. In order to be an egg donor, you will fill out a lot of forms and answer a lot of questions.
After the retrieval, the eggs are fertilized and then observed for a few days. Not all will fertilize or develop. Between one and three embryos will be transferred to the recipient. If any viable embryos are left over, they will be frozen (embryos hold up better in the freezing process than eggs do). It takes about six weeks to find out if a pregnancy results.
The majority of egg donor cycles at this time are mutually anonymous: the recipients and donor may know general information about each other, but they do not know each other’s names and they never meet. If working in a mutually anonymous arrangement, you may be informed of the number of eggs retrieved, but not the number actually fertilized or whether a pregnancy or live birth resulted. If you are working non -anonymously, you may get more information, depending on the arrangement. Some donors do meet their recipients with the supervision of a social worker provided by the agency or clinic, and leave the opportunity open to meet any potential offspring. Both parties agree to the anonymity level before the match is made.
Yes, egg donors can undergo up to six cycles. Indeed, most egg donors choose to do it a few times. A period of about twelve weeks is recommended in between each egg donation cycle.
For further information on Egg Donation, please contact our offices at 613 439 8701 or by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org