Egg Donation Tips

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What is the process of egg donation?

Process of Egg Donation

Though each Fertility Specialist has their own specific routine that they follow, there are some basic steps that are generally the same with each egg donation process, including;

Day 1 (start of cycle): The Egg Donor undergoes a ssessment of ovaries and has blood tests to check hormone levels. Fertility drug treatment is administered in sync with the donor's usual menstrual cycle.

Day 5: Progesterone therapy is initiated in the egg recipient to prepare the uterus for implantation of the fertilized egg.

Day 11: Egg donor is again assessed, including the use of ultrasound, the given an additional fertility drugs to stimulate follicle development.

Day 17-19: Several ultrasounds are performed to assess the status of the ovaries and follicles development until it's determined that the patient is ready for retrieval, also called "harvest."

Day 21: If the follicles are large enough, the egg donor gets shots of hormones, to ready the eggs to be harvested.

Day 22 : The egg recipient receives a shot of progesterone, another fertility hormone, to further prepare her uterus for the soon-to-be implanted eggs.

Day 23: Eggs are harvested from the egg donor, using a long needle, guided by ultrasound. The eggs are placed into a test tube or petri dish and fertilized.

Day 26-28: The recipient will receive between 2 and 4 embryos depending on age and quality of embryo, via implantation into her prepared uterus. Any remaining viable embryos will be frozen, if the first cycle does in a pregnancy.

As you can see, there are specific steps that must be taken, in a prescribed manner, in order to synchronize both the egg donor and the egg recipient, to ensure successful development, harvest, and transfer of donor eggs.

What are the risks and potential complications of egg donation?

Risks and Complications of Egg Donation

As with any medical procedure, there are risks and potential complications. Since egg donation involves not only medication, but also a surgical procedure, it is important to understand the potential risks, prior to making the decision about egg donation.

Some of the risks and complications of egg donation, include:

  • adverse effect of the fertility drugs - fertility drugs alter your body's chemistry as they perform their roles of egg production and follicle development. Some side effects can include: mood swings, irritability, sore breasts, bloating, fatigue and edema - all of the symptoms that accompany premenstrual syndrome
  • infection at the needle insertion site - a needle is inserted to withdraw the eggs from your ovary, which can create an opening for bacteria, and subsequent infection, which is very rare
  • puncture of the uterus or other internal organs- while attempting to access the ovary - more common in women who are overweight
  • side effect of local anesthesia - itching, hives, tenderness, swelling
  • pelvic discomfort following the egg harvest

What role do fertility drugs play in egg donation?

Fertility Drugs and Egg Donation

Whether you are the donor or the recipient of donated eggs, fertility drugs are necessary. The fertility drugs used for egg donors include:

  • clomiphene (pronounced "klo'-muh-feen") - used to stimulate hormones in your brain to prepare eggs for ovulation
  • gonadotropins (pronounced "go-nad'-uh-trow-pins") - stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs, stimulate the production of luteinizing hormone, which prepares your uterus to receive a fertilized egg
  • bromocriptine (pronounced "bro-mow-crypt-een") - used to reduce prolactin levels. High prolactin levels decrease estrogen production, which inhibits ovulation.
For egg donation recipients, the primary hormone used to prepare the uterus for reception of the fertilized egg is progesterone. Hormones will need to be taken approximately three months (12 weeks) following transfer of embryos, until the placenta begins producing appropriate levels of hormones.

As with any medications, fertility drugs can have side effects. The most common side effects associated with fertility hormones are those comparable to pre-menstrual snydrome, i.e. mood changes, irritability, achiness, fatigue, and emotional sensitivity.

What should I look for in an Egg Donation Center?

Finding a Reputable Egg Donation Center

If you are considering becoming an egg donor, it is important to find an reputable Fertility Clinic or Egg Donation Center, which will assist you with the process.

Keep these specific items in mind, when considering an Egg Donation Center:

  • Reputation - ask your Gynecologist, a local Infertility Clinic or Fertility Specialist for professional recommendations. Talk to your family and friends. Chances are, one of the knows someone who was an egg donor or egg recipient.
  • Location - since you will be required to make several visits to the center for screening, medications and other components of the egg donation process, a facility close to where you live or work would be more convenient
  • Renumeration - if money is a factor in your decision to donate, look for an Egg Donation Center that will provide payment in return for your services.
  • Professionalism - a professional Egg Donation Center will be in a reputable location or establishment, have State licensure for their facility, standardized protocols for the egg donation process, and will be able to provide you with answers to your questions about donation.
  • Confidentiality - check on the policies of the Egg Donation Center with regards to confidentiality and anonymity. A reputable Egg Donation Center will honor your request to not be known to the egg recipient.
The decision to become an egg donor should not be taken lightly. If you have already made the decision to proceed, ensure that you are choosing a reputable, professional and respectable Egg Donation Center who will accept your eggs and secure your anonymity.

What are the legal ramifications of egg donation?

Legalities Associated with Egg Donation

Infertility is the primary impetus for using egg donations since there are several conditions that contribute to infertility, which involve egg production and maturation.

Laws are different in each state, and in each country, related to donating eggs, including anonymity of donors, use of surrogates and the ability of children conceived with donor eggs to contact the donors upon reaching maturity. For example:

  • California does not recognize egg donors as having any legal rights with regards to the offspring produced with their donations. Egg donors cannot claim legal rights of parenthood, unless the mother and father do not claim their parenting rights. This applies also to children born to gay parents.
  • In England, donors are facing changes in that laws that will prohibit them from being anonymous in their donations. This has adversely affected the donor supply, since many people do not wish to be contacted by the children they assist to conceive. This also raises legal issues of rights of the offspring to money or property, based solely on their genetic connection to the donor.

Can I become an egg donor?

Becoming an Egg Donor

Making the decision to become an egg donor is a big one, just as being a donor for other body organs or parts. If you do decide to become an egg donor, there is a process that you will go through. To become an egg donor, you will need to:

  • be between 18 and 35 years old
  • be able to provide medical history information about both sides of the family
  • test negative for STDs and infectious diseases
  • be free of chronic health problems
  • approve psychological testing to assess your ability to manage the feelings associated with donation

You can donate your eggs anonymously, or have an open arrangement with the egg recipient.

Talk to a Fertility Specialist, Fertility Clinic or Gynecologist about egg donation, to see if being an egg donor is right for you.

What role does egg donation play in in vitro fertilization?

Egg Donation and In Vitro Fertilization

When more conservative measures fail to effectively treat infertility in women, including the use of fertility drugs, intrauterine insemination and rarely intra-fallopian insemination, many couples or single women may turn to in vitro fertilization.

This process involves harvesting an egg from an ovary and fertilizing it in a petri dish or test tube, then transfering it into the uterus. For women who have undergone early menopause, have no ovaries or have other medical conditions which may make egg production, or use of their own eggs, impossible, egg donation becomes the next viable option to achieve donor embryo pregnancy.

Since the use of donated eggs precludes natural conception, as the eggs cannot be transfered prior to fertilization, in vitro fertilization must be used to achieve union of the egg and sperm. The process for egg donation is specific for both the egg donor and the recipient, and involves health and psychological screening, blood testing according to the FDA, use of fertility medications, and then surgical procedures to retrieve or "harvest" the eggs, and the transfer into the receiving woman's uterus, following fertilization.

The entire process can take several weeks, including assessment and fertility drug treatment, though the actual implantation takes less than an hour. Talk to your Fertility Specialist to see if egg donation for in vitro fertilization is the right choice to help you achieve your parenthood goals.

What is process for being a donated egg recipient?

Being a Donated Egg Recipient

Sometimes, a woman is unable to produce eggs or utilize her eggs in order to become pregnant. This may be because of early menopause, hormonal imbalances that cannot be corrected, or they have failed IVF using their own eggs. When this is the case, egg donation is a viable option to assist them in achieving pregnancy.

Egg donation can be expensive. It can also be an emotional experience, and it has a variable success rate, however the pregnancy rate is better than that normally achieved using In Vitro Fertilization and the woman's own eggs, which is approximately 35 percent.

The donated egg recipient goes through a specific process for the egg donation, including:

  • screening for the appropriateness of receiving a donor egg
  • finding a donor - the donor should be less than 35 years of age, without chronic health problems or genetic diseases, and should match most of your donor criteria, be it physical attributes, intelligence or creative gifts.
  • compensating the donor - usually $4000-5000
  • hormone therapy to prepare your uterus for the egg
  • egg donation
  • pregnancy testing to confirm pregnancy or lack thereof
  • if positive, ongoing hormonal therapy for at least 2 months
You can receive your donated eggs from a friend or relative, or you can opt for an anonymous egg donor. Remember that this is a surgical procedure that can have potential risks and complications. Talk to your Fertility Specialist about being an Egg Recipient.

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Barbara Gibson