What to know before donating your eggs
If you're considering becoming an egg donor, make sure you understand the details.
By: Erica Anspach Will, M.D.
May 30, 2019
1 in 8 couples in the United States struggle to conceive. While men and women can both contribute to infertility issues, a female's poor egg quality and quantity can be major factors.
While advancing reproductive age is the most common cause, women of any age may experience a decline in egg quality or quantity. Other women may have undergone medical treatments or surgeries that have negatively impacted their ovaries.
Regardless of the cause, for many women, it may be very difficult to get pregnant with their own eggs, even when using in vitro fertilization or other infertility treatments.
In addition, single or same-sex male couples also require an egg donor to have a biological child. Donated eggs are used with their sperm to create an embryo, which is carried to term by a gestational carrier, also known as a surrogate.
This is why egg donors are so important — donated eggs can provide individuals with their last hope of having a biological family.
If you are considering becoming an egg donor, you have the ability to provide someone with one of the greatest gifts they will ever receive. But it is a big decision, and you should be prepared with as much information as possible before signing up.
So what should you know before donating your eggs?
Not everyone can be an egg donor.
Women must meet specific requirements to become an egg donor. These requirements are designed to ensure we are providing recipients with healthy eggs from reliable donors. Potential donors must be between 21 and 30 years old and meet certain other qualifications, including submitting to a full medical screening. Logistical considerations, such as your ability to keep appointments, will also be taken into account.
Being an egg donor requires a time commitment.
Part of our donor approval process is to ensure that potential donors are willing and able to commit to the donation process, which, once chosen by a recipient, spans approximately four to six weeks. Donors should expect to make approximately seven clinic visits during their retrieval cycle and stay home from work or school the day of the retrieval. Our donor coordinators work with your schedule as much as possible.
Understand the process.
Before being approved as a donor, applicants must complete a questionnaire, have an initial consult, complete psychological counseling, and undergo a medical screening. If you are approved after completing these steps, your profile will be made available to potential recipients in the donor database.
Once matched and the donation process is initiated, you may need to begin taking birth control pills to regulate ovulation. When your retrieval cycle begins, you will give yourself fertility shots daily for 10 to 12 days. When your physician determines that your egg follicles are mature, you will give yourself a trigger shot. Your egg retrieval procedure will be scheduled to occur 36 hours after this trigger shot.
Your eggs will be retrieved during an outpatient procedure at one of our clinics. You will be sedated to minimize discomfort, and there will be no incision. The retrieval takes about 30 minutes, followed by a one-hour recovery time. Grogginess, uterine cramping and light vaginal spotting are normal. You will be given post-procedure pain medications to take as needed, and you will need someone to drive you home.
Recipients choose their donors.
Once donors have been approved and their profile created in our database, it is entirely up to recipients to review and choose their desired donor. Recipients have access to a secure, password-protected database of egg donors. They often choose their donor based on a variety of personality and physical characteristics.
You are compensated for donating, including emergency insurance coverage.
Should you be chosen by a recipient and go through a retrieval cycle, you will be compensated for donating your eggs. Compensation is up to $5,000 per cycle. You will receive part of the fee at the start of the donation cycle and the remainder upon completion. You will also be provided with insurance should any complications arise during the donation process. There is no cost to the donor to donate their eggs; all costs are covered by the recipient.
Donating eggs does not affect your own fertility.
There is no evidence that donating eggs will affect your own future fertility. Each month during your natural cycle, your ovaries will recruit multiple follicles, of which only one follicle reaches maturity and releases an egg. The remainder will stop developing and degenerate. Fertility medications administered during the egg donation process help to develop follicles that would otherwise degenerate. In other words, we retrieve eggs that your body would have never released for you to get pregnant on your own.
As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks.
While the risk for complications from the egg donation process are low, they do exist. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) is characterized by enlarged ovaries, accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, and bloating. A mild form occurs in 10 to 20 percent of cycles and results in some discomfort but almost always resolves without complications. A severe form occurs in approximately 1 percent of cycles. With close monitoring by sonograms and blood work, the risk of developing OHSS is very low. There is a minor — less than 1 percent — risk of bleeding or infection with egg donation.
If you are interested in becoming an egg donor, fill out this short form to get started.
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