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Smoking and Egg Donor Eligibility

2020-01-27

As you research egg donation, you’ve no doubt encountered a list of eligibility requirements. If you currently smoke or have in the past, you may be wondering if it disqualifies you. While the short answer is yes - smoking and nicotine use are prohibited in egg donation - we’ll explore the reasons why it impacts your egg quality and overall eligibility.

Health Requirements to be a Donor

We require our donors to meet certain medical qualifications:

  • Have regular monthly periods
  • No reproductive disorders or abnormalities
  • Physically and emotionally healthy
  • Non-nicotine user, non-smoker, non drug-user, no vaping, no psychotropic drug use
  • Not currently on Depo-Provera shot or using the Implanon/Nexplanon arm implant
  • Willing to undergo medical and psychological evaluation

We also require some personal qualifications for our donors, such as aged between 21-28 and an ability to respond promptly to communication from ConceiveAbilities and clinic staff. Our donor applicants must also have the ability to be part of the donor pool for 6 months. It is important that you continue to meet these requirements throughout this time, including abstaining from smoking and nicotine.

How does smoking impact my eggs?##

Smoking and tobacco products damage the genetic material in eggs. There are also many chemicals in tobacco products that can speed up how quickly eggs are lost. Nicotine and carbon monoxide, for example, impact how quickly eggs die off, and they cannot be replaced once they are lost.

In addition to speeding up egg loss, smoking can impact your egg quality and the ovarian function necessary to be a successful donor. Ovarian stimulation, or follicular recruitment, is used to help donors produce multiple eggs through hormone administration. Smoking can have a detrimental impact on how you respond to this important part of the donor process. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, female smokers need more ovary-stimulating medications during IVF and still have fewer eggs at retrieval, and infertility rates are about twice as high with smokers compared to nonsmokers. Smoking and smokeless tobacco products can both have the same effect on egg quality and overall fertility, so it is important to steer clear of anything that falls into this category during all stages of the egg donor process.

Can I smoke marijuana if it is legal in my state?

No. There is not as much scientific evidence of exact clinical impacts of marijuana on fertility, but there are other risks associated with using marijuana if you are considering becoming an egg donor. Studies have shown that marijuana use can interfere with ovulation and other reproductive functions. The active ingredient in marijuana, THC, interferes with the brain’s endocannabinoid system, which can change how the brain and reproductive organs communicate. In other words, it can throw your reproductive functions off balance.

It is widely agreed in the medical community that more research is needed to determine the exact impacts of marijuana on fertility, eggs, and overall health. Since there is research already indicating that marijuana use impacts ovulation cycles, abstaining from marijuana is an important qualification to become a donor. If you are using marijuana for medical reasons and are still considering egg donation, speak with your doctor and team at ConceiveAbilities to discuss your unique circumstances.

Can I vape if I want to be a donor?

No. Vaping liquid includes many of the same chemicals and side effects as cigarettes and other nicotine products, so it is important to abstain from vaping if you are considering applying to become an egg donor.

Can I become a donor if I quit smoking?

It depends. Fertility starts to improve as soon as you quit smoking. Donation agencies vary, but many will allow you to apply to become a donor after three months of not smoking or using tobacco products. Depending on how long and how heavily you smoked, you may need to wait longer for your egg quality to improve enough to donate, or you may not be eligible to be a donor. While quitting smoking can improve your fertility over time, the loss of egg supply is irreversible. The short and long term impacts of smoking vary among women, so you might have regular nicotine testing as part of your process to become a donor. It is also important to be up front with your team at ConceiveAbilities from the beginning about your history with smoking to ensure a safe and secure situation for everyone. Remember, the intended parents are counting on your honesty and commitment to this crucial aspect of the process.

There may be other long-term effects of smoking that can impact your qualifications to become a donor, such as your overall physical and emotional health. It’s no secret that smoking has many side effects outside of fertility, including higher risks of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Your doctor can help you determine if any other smoking related health concerns should be considered as you think about becoming an egg donor.

Can I reapply to become a donor?

It depends. If there were certain factors that caused your application to be rejected, like family medical history or an unsuccessful cycle, you may not be eligible to reapply. If your application was initially rejected based on more modifiable factors like your birth control method or availability, you can reapply to donate. If your application was previously rejected due to your history with smoking, you can reapply as long as you continue to meet the other qualifications required of egg donor applicants.

What resources are available to help me quit smoking?

If you are a current smoker or tobacco user, your doctor is the best resource to help you develop a plan to quit smoking safely. There are also many organizations on national and local levels that commit to helping smokers and tobacco users quit. Online resources and communities are available to help support you and develop a plan to reach your goals. Using techniques like patches can be helpful to quit in the long term, but remember that you’ll need to be free of any nicotine products before you apply to be an egg donor.

We are proud to select the most committed egg donors who meet our strict criteria. Because smoking and tobacco products, as well as marijuana, can all have an impact on your overall egg quality and reproductive cycles, the requirement to be a non-smoker and non-nicotine user is important and non-negotiable. Our team at ConceiveAbilities is here to talk through your individual circumstances and help you determine if egg donation is the right path for you.