Frequently Asked Questions for Egg Donors
If I am on birth control or have my tubes tied, can I still donate my eggs?
Because eggs will be directly retrieved from your ovaries, tubal ligation or the absence of your fallopian tubes does not affect your ability to donate. You can still donate if you are on birth control, however, the type of birth control may affect the timing of when you can cycle. If you are on oral contraceptives each month, you can begin your donor cycle immediately, however, you will be asked to stop taking your pills during the actual donation process. If you use a transdermal contraceptive patch, it is recommended that you stop using it for a period of 3 months before donation. Women taking Depo-Provera injections (shots) can donate 3 months after their last injection. If you have a non-hormonal IUD (i.e. Paraguard), there is no waiting period and it can remain in place during your donor cycle but if you have a hormonal IUD (i.e. Mirena, Skyla) you will need to have it removed and have 3 regular menstrual cycles prior to donating. If you use a Norplant or Depo-Provera device/implant, you must wait 1 year after removal and have had 3 regular menstrual cycles before donation.
What are the side effects of the fertility medications?
The most common side effects are similar to what may be experienced during your menstrual cycle. These may include headaches, bloating, mood swings, hot flashes, and breast tenderness. Localized redness and/or irritation at the injection sites also may occur. A rare side effect called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) can occur if your ovaries are over stimulated by the stimulation medications. Frequent vaginal ultrasounds and blood draws can predict the likelihood of this occurring. If it is determined to be a possible risk, the physician in charge of your care will either decrease your medication dose or cancel the cycle. An association between fertility drugs and ovarian cancer has been suggested but not proven.
Can I have sexual intercourse while taking fertility medications?
Egg donors should not engage in sexual intercourse while taking fertility medications and should not resume sexual activity until they have experienced their first menstrual cycle following the egg retrieval procedure. Engaging in sexual activity during this time can drastically increase your chances of getting pregnant. You may resume your normal methods of birth control once you have completed the donor cycle.
Will donating my eggs affect my ability to have children?
There is no medical evidence that donating your eggs affects your future ability to become pregnant. Your ovaries contain approximately 1-2 million eggs at birth and approximately 400,000 with the onset of puberty. During your cycle each month, you have multiple eggs that begin to develop. In the absence of fertility medications, one of these eggs “follicles” usually will become dominant and is ovulated while the remaining eggs are absorbed by the body. Therefore, whether you are on birth control, have a natural cycle, or donate eggs, you “loose” the same amount of eggs each month.
How are my eggs retrieved? Does it hurt? When can I return to school/work?
Egg retrieval is performed under general anesthesia. During the sedation, a thin needle is inserted through the vaginal wall and into each ovary to aspirate the eggs. There are no cuts or incisions involved and the process takes about 30-45 minutes. While recovery varies from person to person, most donors experience mild-moderate discomfort similar to menstrual cramps for 1-2 days after. Most women are able to return to work the next day, others may need an additional day before returning to full function. Although extremely rare, in less than 1% of cases, more serious complications may occur that may require additional medical attention or hospitalization.
How long does the entire process take?
The screening process, which includes the application, profile, and medical, psychological, and genetic evaluations typically takes 2-3 months. This time is not compensated. After screening is complete AND you are deemed acceptable for donation, you begin the process of stimulation and egg retrieval which last 4-6 weeks. During the stimulation phase, you will need approximately 5-9 monitoring appointments within a 10-14 day period. Monitoring appointments are done in the mornings and typically last 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on how many patients are being seen on that particular day. Once retrieval occurs, all viable eggs are either cryopreserved for our frozen egg bank or fertilized with the recipient husband’s sperm for later transfer. Two week after the retrieval you will need to return to The Center for a checkup to ensure you remain in good health and there have been no complications from the procedure. It is at this appointment when you will receive compensation for your time and effort and your obligation will be complete.
Will I incur any costs for donating my eggs?
All testing/screening is paid for by The Center for Reproductive Medicine and is NOT the responsibility of the donor. At this time the Center does not reimburse for travel cost to and from our offices.
Will I know if a pregnancy has occurred from my egg donation?
We do not inform the donor of the success or failure of their donation.
How many times can I donate my eggs?
Following the guidelines set forth by ASRM, we allow our donors to participate in a maximum of 6 donor cycles (per LIFETIME) as long as you are approved by our embryologists to return for additional donations.
Can you be an egg donor if you are on birth control?
Because eggs will be directly retrieved from your ovaries, tubal ligation or the absence of your fallopian tubes does not affect your ability to donate. You can still donate if you are on birth control, however, the type of birth control may affect the timing of when you can cycle.