10 Important Questions to Ask Before You Become an Egg Donor
What is Egg Donation?
Egg Donation is process by which a woman (referred to as the donor) provides her eggs to another woman (known as the recipient) to assist in the conception of a baby.
Egg donation is a safe and widely accepted means of assisted reproduction. For women whose medical conditions prevent them from becoming pregnant, egg donation (in conjunction with in-vitro fertilization), can be a means to starting a family.
How does Egg Donation work?
There are four steps in the egg donation process: 1) Application & Intake, 2) Matching & Screening, 3) The Medication Cycle, and 4) Egg Retrieval.
1. Application & Intake
After conducting research and reviewing the qualifications to become an egg donor, candidates can register through ConceiveAbilities’ secure online application.
Once selected, candidates will be interviewed and provided with more information and resources relating to egg donation. During this time, there will be plenty of opportunities to discuss any issues or questions the donor may have.
Finally, candidates will undergo psychosocial evaluations before being matched.
2. Matching & Screening
Once donors pass the intake phase described above, they wait to be selected by an intended parent. Donors will be asked to commit to a medication and retrieval schedule depending on the location and clinic of the intended parents and their physician.
Donors will then undergo a screening phase, which usually takes approximately 6-10 weeks. First, a physician will meet with the donor to describe the medical procedures involved, as well as conduct a series of medical tests which include a blood test. This test will analyze the donor’s hormone levels and test for diseases and drugs. To pass this medical screening, the donor must maintain a clean medical history and be free from prior and current drug use and sexually transmitted diseases.
During the screening phase, ConceiveAbilities will arrange independent legal representation for the donor. The donor’s attorney will assist her in understanding the law regarding the egg donation process and the terms of the legal contract with the intended parents. The donor should be fully aware that once the eggs are successfully retrieved, she no longer has any legal right to them.
3. The Medication Cycle
Once the donor passes the medical screening phase, the donor cycle officially begins at the start of the donor’s next menstrual period. After approximately twenty-one (21) days, the physician will begin a series of subcutaneous (just under the skin) injections of medication used to stimulate egg maturation in the ovaries. The donor is required to attend six to seven morning monitoring appointments at the fertility center, which are typically between 7am and 9am and last approximately 30 – 45 minutes. These appointments monitor the body’s response to the medication and cannot be missed.
Injections will continue until approximately thirty-six (36) hours before the eggs are ready to be retrieved. At that point, donors are given a final injection or “trigger shot” to prepare the eggs for maturation and then retrieval.
The fertility center will provide all of the necessary instructions on administering the injectable medication. Communication with the fertility center’s nursing staff and ConceiveAbilities’ Match Manager is extremely important throughout the duration of the process.
4. Egg Retrieval
Donors undergo ‘twilight’ anesthesia administered through an IV for the retrieval procedure. A vaginal ultrasound probe is used to guide a small needle through the vaginal wall to reach the ovaries and retrieve the eggs.
The actual retrieval procedure only lasts approximately thirty (30) minutes. Afterward, donors are required to rest and should refrain from sexual intercourse and any strenuous physical activity until cleared by their physician.
What are the requirements to become an egg donor?
The requirements to become an egg donor include a healthy lifestyle, a clean medical record, and a willingness to remain committed to the process. For a detailed breakdown of requirements to donate through ConceiveAbilities, please see our list below:
- Between 21-28 years of age
- Have regular monthly periods
- No reproductive disorders or abnormalities
- Physically and emotionally healthy
- BMI between 21-28 (BMI calculator)
- Non-nicotine user, non-smoker, non-drug user
- Not currently on Depo-Provera
- Willing to undergo medical and psychological evaluation
- Willing to take injectable medication
- Willing to commit to the process for a minimum of 6 months
- Willing and able to respond to communication within 24 hours from ConceiveAbilities and clinic staff
- Excited about the process of helping to build a family
How much do egg donors make?
We believe that every woman should be fairly compensated for the time, effort and inconvenience required of the donation process. Starting pay for ConceiveAbilities egg donors begins at $7,000. Compensation depends on a number of factors, including the donor’s location, her donation history, and her ethnic diversity. In particular, Asian, Jewish, and East Indian donors are usually more sought after. ConceiveAbilities’ donors have used their compensation towards supporting their college tuition, traveling the world, donating to charity, purchasing a home, or starting a business.
How much does the egg donation process cost?
The costs of the egg donation process start at $37,000. The actual costs and expenses depend on medical expenses, including donor compensation, agency fees, fertilization costs, legal and travel expenses and other miscellaneous costs. ConceiveAbilities works closely with intended parents to ensure the fee schedule is transparent and understood. Keep in mind that while ConceiveAbilities can calculate accurate estimates of these costs, they are still subject to random fluctuations.
For more information, see ConceiveAbilities’ egg donor fee schedule.
What medications will an egg donor have to take? Are they safe?
The following is a list of the medications that a donor may need to take to complete a successful retrieval:
Lupron – Also known as Leuprolide Acetate. One injection a day for 12 days, then one injection a day along with gonadotropin therapy for 22 days. Lupron is used to control female hormone levels and prevent the release of the eggs. Research shows that Lupron is harmless to humans, and leaves the body hours after discontinued usage.
Ganirelix acetate or Cetrotide – Also known as GNRH Antagonist. One injection per day or every three days, taken with gonadotropin therapy after having been on the therapy for 4-5 days. Ganirelix may also act as a substitute for Lupron to prevent eggs from maturing and releasing during the process.
Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH or Gonadotropins) – Also known as Gonal F, Bravelle, Follistim, Memopur, or Repronex. One injection per day for ten days. FSH is the same hormone in a female body used to mature her eggs during the menstrual cycle. FSH is used to develop more sacs (also called follicles, which contain the woman’s eggs), and in turn, more eggs.
Some side effects of FSH include headache, moodiness, fatigue or bloating, although there are no reports of long-term effects. In extremely rare situations (affecting only 1-2% of IVF cases), ovarian hypserstimulation syndrome (OHSS) can occur. This happens when the body “overreacts” to FSH, thereby causing enlarged ovaries. While IVF clinics take great care to prevent this from happening, treatment might include an outpatient procedure to drain excess fluid from the ovaries or, in rare cases, hospitalization. Women on FSH should refrain from strenuous activity, as it may lead to the ovaries tearing or twisting.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG or “Trigger Shot”) – Also known as Ovidrel, Profasi, or Pregnyl. One injection 36 hours before egg retrieval. This is the “pregnancy hormone” produced by a woman’s placenta. It is used to mature the eggs before retrieval. Without hCG, the donor’s eggs would not be usable for IVF.
Similar to FSH, some side effects may include headache, moodiness, fatigue or bloating, but none have been reported in the long-term.
What are the risks of egg donation?
Egg donation has proven to be a safe process with no long-term side effects. However, it is good practice to understand the potential short-term side effects and risks that accompany the process.
Medication side effects – As mentioned in the previous section, some of the medication associated with egg donation can lead to headache, moodiness, fatigue or bloating. Some may lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, but this is rare and very treatable.
Antibiotics – There may be antibiotics involved to prevent bacterial infections, and some patients have an allergic reaction. Consult your doctor if you think you may have an allergy to antibiotics.
Blood-drawing – As with most needles, there may be mild discomfort and a risk of bruising from the blood-drawing process.
Pregnancy – If a donor has unprotected intercourse after the retrieval process, there is a likelihood of pregnancy because the donor is on medication that enhances fertility.
Ultrasound guided retrieval process – After the retrieval, some donors may experience physical discomfort. More serious conditions include bleeding, infection, and bowel discomfort. In some cases, surgery may be required to repair any internal damage.
Is it painful?
Egg donation can be painful. You may experience discomfort with some of the procedures, such as the retrieval process, the ultrasounds, or the blood-drawing. Some women experience mood shifts after donating their eggs. It’s important to research the process, and consult your doctor about whether egg donation is right for you. ConceiveAbilities takes every step to ensure donors are guided and informed.
What about my privacy?
ConceiveAbilities takes the privacy of their donors very seriously. While an overwhelming amount of matches are anonymous, there may be instances where the donor and the intended parents choose to meet. ConceiveAbilities’ honors the level of anonymity requested by each party in the donation. Any private information provided through applications, interviews or other documents are all confidential. Privacy and anonymity are major factors for parents and donors looking for a trustworthy agency.
Egg donation can be a giving, rewarding process, but also a complicated one. ConceiveAbilities is dedicated to ensuring that donors are educated and informed about the process. If you believe egg donation is right for you, consider submitting an application to ConceiveAbilities today!