The Egg Donation Process
The Egg Donation Process
- Stopping your normal cycle:
You may be prescribed a medication for one or more weeks to temporarily halt your ovaries’ normal functioning. This makes it easier to control your response to fertility drugs. A doctor or nurse will give you an injection or instruct you about how to inject the medication daily at home.
- Stimulating egg production:
In a normal menstrual cycle, one egg matures and, at ovulation, is released from an egg-containing sac (called a follicle) on the ovary. In egg donation, the goal is to obtain several mature eggs. You will be prescribed medication to stimulate your ovaries to mature more eggs than normal (called “controlled hyperstimulation”).
The medications are similar to the hormones that your body produces, but at much higher doses. These medications must be injected (either under your skin or into a muscle). Treatment will start on a specific day of your cycle and continue for about ten days. You will be shown how to inject the medications. If you are unable to inject yourself reliably, you will need someone else to do it for you.
- Monitoring your progress:
During the donation cycle, you must have frequent blood tests and ultrasound examinations to track the developing eggs and to see how you are responding to the hormones. Based on these tests, you will be told how to adjust the dose of medication. The ultrasound exams involve inserting an ultrasound probe (about the size of a tampon applicator) into your vagina so the doctor can see the growing follicles on your ovaries.
When the time is right, you will receive a final injection of another drug to prepare the eggs for retrieval. This injection is given shortly before egg retrieval.
- Retrieving the eggs:
The eggs will be retrieved from your ovaries in a minor surgical procedure called transvaginal ovarian aspiration. An ultrasound probe will be inserted into your vagina. A thin needle attached to the probe will be inserted into each follicle.
Using suction, the egg and liquid inside each follicle are removed. You may be given painkillers, sedatives or anesthesia during the retrieval, which lasts about 30 minutes. When all the eggs have been retrieved, you will recover for a few hours before going home. You must have someone drive you home. Afterwards, you will need to rest for the day.
- Follow-up care:
You should be given clear instructions about what to do if you need medical attention. In some centers, donors return for one or two check-ups. You may also be scheduled to meet with a counselor.
Many women are concerned that giving up some of their eggs may reduce their ability to later become pregnant. If there are no complications, being an egg donor should not affect your later fertility.
CAN I DONATE MORE THAN ONCE?
There are no firm rules about how many times a woman can donate her eggs, but there are several reasons why a center may limit repeat donations.
Centers are required, by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and the State Health Department, to limit the number of children created using the same donor.
This limit is necessary, because all children from a single donor will be genetic half-siblings.
Do not sign a consent form for more than one cycle of egg donation at a time. Even if you do sign, no one can force you to make multiple donations. On the other hand, it is reasonable for a center,or donor egg recipient to want to know if you would consider donating eggs more than once.
A recipient may see you as an ideal match and wonder whether, if there is not a successful pregnancy, you would be willing to try again.
Or, if a child is born, she may wonder if you would help her conceive that child’s little brother or sister. The decision is yours to make.
WILL DONATING EGGS AFFECT MY EVERYDAY LIFE?
Egg donation is time-consuming. During the donation cycle, you will be given medications for about three weeks, and you will make several visits to the clinic for blood tests and ultrasounds. You will be responsible for arranging your work or school schedule to fit the demands of egg donation. You will be required to refrain from drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and using illegal drugs. You will not be able to use any prescription or non-prescription drugs without permission. If you are in a sexual relationship, you must abstain from unprotected intercourse during specific weeks of the treatment cycle.