There’s no question that egg donation is a truly amazing gift to give to couples who are unable to conceive. For women who are unable to use their own eggs or for gay male couples who have no other option for pregnancy, it can literally change the future of a family.
This process isn’t just beneficial for our couples who use an egg donor to conceive. In fact, many of our egg donors also report that the process, and knowing that they helped another couple build their family, was an extremely rewarding one. Donors receive information about their family through the detailed genetic and medical testing, some of which may not be known to them beforehand.
It is important to realize that egg donation is not right for everyone, and not everyone is able to become an egg donor. There are several requirements that must be considered when thinking about becoming an egg donor:
- Age: Most agencies have guidelines in place that limit the age at which a woman can become an egg donor. This is different from center to center, but ranges from 18 or 21 until 29 or her early 30’s. At Extraordinary Conceptions, our egg donors must be between the ages of 18 and 29 in order to give our Intended Parents the very best chance for pregnancy.
- Health: A woman must be in good health before agreeing to donate her eggs. If she has certain medical conditions, she may be asked to visit with her doctor to get medical clearance prior to starting the donation process.
- Weight: A woman must have a Body Mass Index (BMI) below 27, which indicates that her weight and height are proportional. Being overweight can actually affect how well the fertility medications work.
- Social history: A woman must not use recreational drugs or smoke cigarettes, and be willing to take a random urine drug test as requested.
- Education: A college education is not required; however, it may make it easier for you to be matched with a recipient family.
Requirements During an Egg Donation Cycle
In addition to these basic egg donor requirements, a potential donor must have an open attitude and some flexibility. The process of egg donation is not as simple as donating sperm or blood. Having an understanding of what to expect is a must!
- Before participating in an egg donation cycle, the donor must be able to complete pre-cycle medical and psychological testing. This can include testing for sexually transmitted or infectious diseases. Donors are also tested to see if they carry the genes for some common genetic disorders.
- Egg donors will need to give themselves daily injections for 2-3 weeks (don’t worry; every donor is thoroughly trained on how to administer the medications!). These medications must be given on a specific schedule to ensure a good response to the hormones.
- Once a donor starts her medications, she must be willing to have multiple blood draws and transvaginal (internal) ultrasounds. This testing is super important and the donor must be available as needed, which may sometimes be every day.
- Once the doctor determines that she is ready, the egg retrieval will be scheduled. It is a very minor surgical procedure that usually takes place in the office procedure room. It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish and there is no scarring after the procedure has been completed.
- Recovery is usually pretty quick and most women are back to their regular activity by their next menstrual period (about 2 weeks after the egg retrieval).
- The entire process is around 60 to 90 days from the time a potential donor is matched to an Intended Parent.
In addition, beginning an egg donation cycle may require that a donor make a few temporary changes to their lifestyle. The fertility doctor that is performing the cycle will have specific guidelines, which may include:
- Avoiding alcohol, cigarettes and drugs
- Refrain from getting new tattoos or piercings
- Abstain from unprotected, or even protected, intercourse at certain points during the cycle
- Avoid heavy exercise or strenuous activity around the egg retrieval procedure
It is very important for the donor to be able to follow these directions, both for her own health and for the success of the cycle.
Before starting any medications, a legal contract will need to be signed, which outlines the responsibilities and requirements for both egg donors and their potential recipients. This agreement:
- Acknowledges that the eggs belong to the Intended Parents once they are removed
- Details the compensation owed to the donor at the completion of the cycle
- Describes the degree of contact that is allowed between the donor and the recipient
- Explains what will happen if the cycle needs to be canceled because of a medical reason, or because someone backs out of the agreement
- Relieves the donor from all legal and financial responsibility for any child that results from the donation
All potential donors must read this agreement very closely and make sure that they understand it before signing it.
Ready to get started?
Egg donation is a big, but worthwhile commitment for the amazing young women who decide to donate. If you want to learn more about this amazing process or are ready to fill out an application, please get in touch with one of our egg donor coordinators today!