When you become an egg donor, you’re helping build a family in a truly unique way. It’s arguably one of the most selfless acts one human can make for another. The appointments, flexibility and attention to detail require a special kind of compassion and commitment – to the process, and also to yourself. Practicing self-care is crucial. We’ll explore 5 simple ways to make your health and wellness a priority so that you can feel like the best version of yourself before, during and after your egg donor journey.
First thing’s first: there is a lot of buzz around the phrase “self-care.” It’s become such a popular topic that one might argue it has lost its meaning. Whether you’re chatting with friends or scrolling social media, you’ll see plenty of people claiming to practice self-care. But it’s not about self-indulgence or being selfish. According to Jessica Michaelson, Psy.D., “Self-care means paying attention to yourself, understanding how you work and taking action that serves your personal needs.” And prioritizing your personal needs now as a donor will serve you far beyond your commitment to the process.
We all thrive best with a support system and egg donation is no different. Whether you’re choosing to share your decision to become a donor or you prefer to keep it private, surround yourself with positive energy. Lean on a good friend or partner, or reach out to your Match Manager for backup. The egg donation process can be overwhelming at times, and it’s important to remember you have a whole team of support believing in you.
Take a quick evaluation of any negativity in your life, whether it’s a person, activity or social media. While filtering doesn’t mean you have to cut anything out completely, consider if the source is adding any true value to your life. While we can’t control all of the negative energy that comes our way, surrounding ourselves with positivity wherever we can is a major component of self-care.
Everyone from your nurse coordinator to your Match Manager will remind you that staying hydrated is an essential medical component of the donor egg process. Staying hydrated improves your blood circulation giving your reproductive organs more of what they need. It also helps your hormones travel where they need to go more efficiently.
Because your body is working extra hard to produce multiple eggs, it’s extra important to drink plenty of water to maintain a healthy level of electrolytes during that critical medication cycle. Electrolytes are the vital minerals that aid in everything from nervous system function to healthy internal pH levels. While drinking water is the most efficient way to stay hydrated and protect this balance, consider adding supplements like sodium and calcium for an electrolyte boost.
We talk a lot about what you put in your body as a donor; things like quality nutrition, birth control and fertility medications help ensure the success of your cycle. But did you know that what you put on your body can have far-reaching effects too? Because the skin is our largest organ, we absorb over 60 percent of the products that we apply topically. Any toxins present, such as perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) can impact fertility. They often mimic natural hormones in the body, creating endocrine disruption and hormonal imbalance – this can lead to anything from infertility to cancer.
While there is still a long way to go in cleaning up the beauty industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has officially banned 19 ingredients in antibacterial soap which are known to disrupt hormones such as testosterone and estrogen. To be on the safe side, for your fertility now and later, if you wish to build a family of your own be selective with your products. Organizations like Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and Environmental Working Group offer great tips and even have a database to help you select safer options.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to take care of yourself as a donor is to do less. The egg donation process - especially during the medication and recovery stages, are the perfect opportunity to rest and relax. Some women find that they naturally feel a bit more fatigued due to minor side effects of egg donor medications and welcome the opportunity to take it easy. Your body is already working hard to produce extra eggs for the retrieval and that means pressing pause on vigorous physical activity. You will have an in-depth discussion with your nurse coordinator about formal limitations (spoiler alert: marathon training is a no-go during this process). Assume that you’ll be asked to stick to light to minimal exercise during the medication cycle and the weeks immediately following retrieval. If physical activity is your self-care of choice, focus on walking, light yoga and stretching. Listen to your body and be sure to reach out to your support team if you have questions or concerns.
Practicing self-care as an egg donor translates seamlessly after you complete your donation. Not only will you learn more about your body and all that it is truly capable of as a donor, you will hopefully learn how to create better balance within your day-to-day life after donating. If you’re ready to learn more about egg donor requirements and if it’s the right fit for you, connect with our team! We are eager to support you in this life-changing journey.
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.