Women who are unable to produce their own eggs, due to a variety of conditions, including disease, treatment for cancer or ovarian failure, have the option of choosing donor eggs. If you’re a healthy, fertile woman interested in donating your eggs there are a few factors you must first consider. Additionally, the process isn’t as simple as you may think. Those donors approved for egg donation need to understand the ins and outs of egg donation.
Three Ways to Donate Your Eggs
There are three initial ways of egg donation.
- Agencies Seek You Out: The first way is through an agency. Typically, these agencies seek out young college women and offer financial compensation for their time and trouble. These headhunters look for donors with specific qualities based on the desires of their clients.
- Clinic Donor Services: If you feel called to donate your eggs, you can contact a clinic on your own. They will direct you to their donor services where you complete the screening process before going through the donation process.
- Directed Egg Donation: In directed egg donation a donor chooses to share her eggs with a friend or family member. The donor still completes the screening process; however, the donor knows the couple or individual receiving her eggs.
The Best Candidate for Egg Donation
Understandably there are certain criteria that must be met in order to qualify as an egg donor. The best egg donor must-
- Be in good health physically and mentally
- Be between the ages of 21 and 29
- Have not smoked cigarettes in the past year
- Be in the healthy BMI range
- Have regular periods
- Not currently be on hormone-based IUD birth control (Depo-Provera, Norplant, Nexplanon, etc.)
- Not been exposed to the Zika virus or traveled to Zika-affected countries in the past six months
- Be free from STI and STD for at least one year
- Refrain from tattoos and body-piercings for the duration of donation process and six months prior.
- Be available for anywhere from eight to ten appointments during the process of donation.
- Have no history of drug use
- Be willing to self-administer injections.
- Of course, in the case of directed donation some of the criteria is subject to doctor’s review.
The Screening Process
After deciding to donate your eggs a psychological and physical screening process is the next step. Not only does the process lower the risk for potential congenital issues in the future embryo but also confirms the donor is donating her eggs for all the right reasons. The FDA issued guidelines to assess the physical and psychological eligibility of the donor.
Here is what you can expect from the physical screening process:
- Basic physical
- Ultrasound exam of the reproductive organs
- Personal medical and psychological history
- Genetic screening; family history
- Infectious disease screening
- Drug testing
- Blood tests
Evaluating the donor’s mental health is equally as important as confirming physical health. A psychological examination allows both the donor and the clinic to proceed knowing the donor is making an informed decision. This exam also ensures the mental health and well-being of the future child.
The Donation Process
Once the donor fulfills all criteria of the screening process she will begin preparing for the procedure. As a donor you will need to take medication to halt your normal menstrual cycle. This allows the doctor to control the maturation of your eggs. Side effects of this hormone-based medication include hot flashes, headaches, body aches, fatigue and nausea.
Next the donor begins self-administering a series of injections in order to hyper-stimulate the ovaries. Hyperstimulation allows the ovaries to produce several eggs at one time. Hyperstimulation is relatively safe but there are some risks associated. Mood swings, headaches, breast tenderness and bruising and pain at the injection site are possible. A rare condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome is also possible. This can be quite painful and may require hospitalization, but keep in mind it is highly unlikely.
Doctors monitor donors throughout this entire process, performing ultrasounds and blood tests to assess reaction to the medications. Once ovulation is imminent, the donor receives a final injection to prepare for egg retrieval.
The doctor, guided by a transvaginal ultrasound, inserts a needle to remove a mature egg from each follicle. The entire procedure lasts around 30 minutes, and the donor is typically sedated. Following recovery, the donor goes home. Some donors return to normal activities the next day, some require a few days to recover.
The Gift of Family
Donating your eggs is a truly beautiful gift. You provide couples and individuals with a much-desired opportunity for fulfilling their dream of having a child. You’re helping in the creation of a family, and what could be better than that?
For more information on how you can donate your eggs or for those interested in using egg donation services to create your family contact LA IVF. We’ll answer any questions and concerns you may have for either side of the egg donation process.