Donating your eggs is a life-changing gift for a family who cannot have a child on their own. Despite your best intentions, however, not everyone can become an egg donor. Donors undergo a multi-step, rigorous screening process and must meet strict requirements to donate eggs. In fact, less than 10% of applicants qualify to donate.
Do I qualify?
Egg banks and agencies accept healthy, young women who:
- Are between 21-33
- Are not currently smoking or using drugs
- Do not carry sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, and chlamydia
- Have good overall general emotional and physical health
- Have approximately three months of availability to complete the process
- Are prepared to self-administer injectable medications
Many other factors are taken into account, including hereditary history and education.
What are the preliminary steps?
Before you even sit on an examining table for the medical evaluation, you will likely have to attend a series of information sessions, fill out forms, and talk to a number of counselors and/or psychologists to determine your eligibility. If you’re approved, you’ll undergo blood tests, genetic questionnaires, and physical evaluations to ensure your body is able to donate.
If all goes well – congratulations! You’re on your way to becoming an egg donor.
What happens when I’m chosen as a donor?
There are two types of egg donation you may choose from: fresh or frozen.
If you are a fresh egg donor, your donation cycle needs to be synced with the recipient-mother’s cycle via hormonal contraceptives. This ensures fertility is suppressed and stimulated correctly before egg retrieval. If undergoing frozen egg donation, you’ll follow a similar treatment plan but do not need to sync cycles.
During the ovary stimulation phase, you will administer daily hormone injections to ensure as many follicles as possible produce an egg. These injections may be harder for some than others at first, but rest assured it becomes easier with each dose.
Once ready, your doctor will have you administer a precisely timed “trigger shot” to release the matured eggs for retrieval.
What does egg retrieval involve?
Matured eggs are retrieved from follicles via a thin needle, with the entire procedure lasting approximately 15 minutes. Most donors are able to return home in an hour or two, and can go back to regular activities – excluding vigorous exercise – with minimal discomfort.
If undergoing frozen egg donation, your eggs will be frozen by utilizing the high-tech process of cryopreservation known as vitrification. Vitrification prevents ice crystals from forming during freezing and storage.
Are there side effects or other risks?
Although classified as low risk, egg retrieval can still cause bleeding, infection, and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) in some women. OHSS is an over-response to fertility drugs, and characterized by abdominal pain or bloating and tenderness in the pelvic region, especially the ovaries. The likelihood of OHSS can be decreased by lowering the dose of hormones as the cycle progresses and by using Lupron.
More commonly, injectable hormones involved in this process may cause bloating and mood swings. Other typical symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration.
Does egg donation decrease your own fertility?
No, donating your eggs doesn’t impact your fertility or your ability to have a child. From puberty until menopause, a group of eggs is lost during each menstrual cycle. The process of egg donation only prevents some eggs from dying off, as only one egg can be fertilized naturally.
What’s the difference between Non-Disclosure vs. ID Disclosure egg donation?
Non-disclosure egg donors have chosen not to allow disclosure of their personal identity, even at the request of a donor conceived offspring. An ID Disclosure egg donor provides their name and last known address to a donor conceived adult at the age of 18. Most donors choose the former, as donating anonymously ensures there is no future contact.
Is egg donation right for me?
This is a question only you can truly answer. Whatever your reason for donating eggs, there is no right or wrong answer. Take as much time as you need to research and speak to friends, relatives, your doctor, and perhaps staff from an agency you’re interested in. If you decide to move forward, know that your kind and selfless act gives the priceless gift of a child to a family eager to love them.