How long does the egg donation process take?

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Maybe you’ve heard about egg donation – a friend or a cousin mentioned that she is becoming an egg donor - and you’ve started doing some research of your own.

After digging around online, you may find that you’re even more confused than when you started. That’s understandable! While the egg donation process isn’t exceptionally long or complicated, it does require a basic comprehension of the procedure – and what’s required of you!

We’ll break it down to help you decide if it’s the right decision for your life right now.

What is egg donation?

Egg donation is when a woman provides her eggs to a recipient to assist in conceiving a baby. Sometimes there is a medical or genetic need for a donor egg, or it may be to help a single male or same-sex couple.

During the egg donation process, the egg donor will go through a medication cycle and egg retrieval so that the egg can be combined with the intended father or a donor’s sperm, and then implanted in the intended mother’s or a surrogate’s uterus .

How long does each step of the egg donation process take?

This is a common question. Many women ask, “can I come into your office and donate eggs today?” As you research egg donation you will realize pretty quickly that the process is quite different from sperm donation! The female reproductive system requires a lot more preparation in order to produce the multiple eggs needed for a successful retrieval.

There are 4 main steps:

Application and Intake. Once you’ve submitted an application to the agency you’d like to work with, your medical history and information will need to be reviewed. If selected, you’ll continue to the intake process so that you can learn more about egg donation, ask questions and undergo psychosocial evaluations. This can take anywhere from a week to several weeks, depending on how quickly you have the intake appointment.

Matching and Screening. If you are approved to continue, you will be matched with intended parents and, if you accept the match, you’ll undergo a medical screening. This typically includes a meeting to consult with the doctor and nurse coordinator, overview of medications and your menstrual cycle, and a variety of labs and blood work. During this screening phase you will also review legal contracts and meet with an attorney. This is the longest part of the process because it depends on a number of factors – how quickly appointments can be made, plus how long it takes for lab work and legal contracts to be completed – but is generally 1 or 2 months.

Medication Cycle. Once medical screening is complete and legal documents are signed, the medication cycle will start with your next menstrual cycle. About 21 days in, a series of injections will start and you will attend 6 or 7-morning monitoring appointments for labs and ultrasounds to determine how your body is responding to the medication. The final injection is given 36 hours before the egg retrieval, and overall the medication cycle takes about 3 to 4 weeks.

Egg Retrieval. You made it! On the day of the retrieval you will be placed under twilight anesthesia for the retrieval; this outpatient procedure involves an ultrasound probe guiding a small needle through the vaginal wall to retrieve the eggs from each ovary. The actual retrieval takes about 30 minutes.

You will want to follow instructions from the fertility clinic carefully to avoid overdoing it in the days following the egg retrieval. You will also want to pay attention to any signs of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS), which is the rare occurrence of the body over-responding to the hormones. While it requires rapid medical attention, it is typically resolved through an outpatient procedure. In general, full recovery from egg donation can be expected by your next menstrual cycle.

What are the egg donor requirements?

There are several non-negotiable requirements to become an egg donor, including:

  • Age between 21-28 years old
  • Have a regular monthly menstrual cycle and no reproductive disorders
  • Physically and emotionally healthy
  • Non-nicotine, non-smoker, non-drug user
  • Willing to undergo medical and psychological evaluation

There are some additional basic requirements that should be considered as well.

While egg donation is a noble decision, it’s not for everyone and it’s imperative to factor in your lifestyle and schedule. It may not be realistic for you to have the flexibility of a 3-4 month commitment right now, or to be able to make the required early morning monitoring appointments during the medication cycle. That’s okay, but it’s important to know that before getting too far in to the process.

If you have additional questions about egg donation, we are here to help make this unique journey as smooth and rewarding for you as possible!