Some intended parents are unable to provide their own eggs for the creation of an embryo. In these cases, a surrogacy agency may assist with the process of finding a suitable egg donor. The egg donation process is a long-established and well-understood medical procedure, though there are a couple initial considerations to be made. Like surrogates, an American egg donor is compensated for her time and inconvenience.
There are many legitimate reasons why egg donation might be required. There are genetic conditions which leave a woman unable to produce viable eggs. These include mitochondrial disorders, an area which has seen recent advancement in studies involving three-parent IVF. With the growing recognition of LGBT rights in the United States, there are also many gay couples in need of egg donation. Many surrogacy agencies offer egg donation services, so that as many people as possible can start their own families.
A surrogacy agency like ConceiveAbilities requires that all prospective egg donors fill out an egg donor application. As potential surrogate mothers, women seeking to assist intended parents by donating eggs must meet certain criteria. These criteria vary somewhat from one agency to the next, but most follow guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. As such, they usually have certain points in common.
A woman who seeks to donate eggs for money must be within a certain age range. This typically falls between the 21 and 29 years old, with some agencies choosing to work with women as young as 18. She must also have a clean bill of health, both physically and psychologically, including an absence of any past reproductive issues or complicated pregnancies.
Individuals with a history of smoking or substance abuse are typically not considered, particularly in the case of hard drugs whose abusers are statistically prone to relapsing.
Acceptance of an egg donor application is often contingent upon the prospective egg donor’s willingness to undergo a psychosocial assessment, as well as an evaluation of her emotional character.
Once an egg donor’s application is accepted, she will need to meet with a physician to discuss the egg donation medical procedure. A number of concerns will be addressed, such as the need to remain free of sexually transmitted disease for the duration of the egg donation procedure. Blood will be drawn for testing at this time, and the various hormones and other medications involved in the process will be explained.
The final step is the matching process. The agency will perform the initial stages of this phase of the egg donation process, narrowing down the list of potential egg donors for a particular couple. This is based on lifestyles and locations being a potential match between egg donor and intended parents. With the necessary logistics squared away, the rest is up to the impressions and preferences of intended parents.
The actual egg donation process will timed to coincide approximately with the onset of the egg donor’s first menstrual cycle. At this point, she will begin taking a series of injections meant to stimulate the maturation of additional eggs within the donor’s ovaries. These injections are subcutaneous, meaning that they are administered just beneath the skin. They are usually self-administered.
Over the course of approximately 3-5 weeks, on average, the egg donor will have a series of 6-7 scheduled appointments at the IVF clinic for testing and evaluation of her progress. These appointments usually occur in early to mid-morning hours, often between 7 and 10 AM, and will last between half an hour and forty-five minutes.
The egg donor must stay in reliable and consistent contact with the medical staff at the IVF clinic where she is receiving her treatment. That way, any scheduling problems may be addressed promptly.
The egg retrieval procedure itself usually calls for twilight sedation. This does not involve a complete loss of consciousness, but rather induces a state similar to hypnosis: the egg donor feels no anxiety. Eggs are retrieved with a small needle, which is guided through the uterine wall with the assistance of an ultrasound probe.
The procedure takes about half an hour altogether, but the egg donor may expect to be at the clinic for up to three or four hours for monitoring. She will need someone to drive her home, and should spend the rest of the day relaxing. Soreness and cramping are sometimes experienced as side effects of the procedure.
The day after the procedure, the egg donor is encouraged to remain at home, but she may resume light activities. However, she should avoid any strenuous activities, errands, or work, until cleared for such by the physician who oversaw her treatment during the egg donation process.
There is a lot of information available online with regard to egg donation. While many articles about egg donation are heavily researched pieces of serious journalism, a potential egg donor is encouraged to inform herself from a variety of sources—including authoritative medical websites. WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and Johns Hopkins all offer substantive resources on the various concerns involved with egg donation, and should be considered requisite resources for further investigation prior to pursuing the matter with ConceiveAbilities or any other surrogacy agency.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.