First and foremost, thank you for taking the time to learn more about becoming an egg donor. Statistically, an estimated 12% of couples in the United States have difficulty becoming pregnant or staying pregnant. And for many of those couples, assisted reproductive technology (ART) such as in vitro fertilization can help make their dreams of having a family become a reality.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a substantial 12 percent of all IVF cycles in the U.S., about 16,000 a year, involve eggs retrieved from a donor. As much as you may want to help someone in need, whether you know them personally or not, the decision to become an egg donor is not one that should be taken lightly. Here are 10 things you need to know:
1. The egg donation process is not easy
Donating eggs requires a commitment of time and energy. Recipients with whom you may be matched will be investing approximately $28,000 just for one attempt at pregnancy and have likely been through many previous disappointments before arriving at the decision to use donated eggs. Therefore, it’s imperative that once you begin this process, you are committed until its completion.
2. Your physical health is important
Although you are not the one that is hoping to become pregnant, the status of your overall health is extremely important. The requirements vary from one agency or fertility clinic to another, but at Carolina Conceptions we require women to be between ages 19-31 years old with no known genetic disorders and a body mass index less than 27. Egg donors must also be non-smokers with no recreational drug use.
3. Your mental health is equally important
Not only must you be physically healthy, but you will also need to complete a psychological screening to give an accurate picture of your mental health. This will help determine whether you are both mentally and emotionally stable enough to donate.
4. You will need to attend multiple appointments
Multiple visits to the clinic are required for cycle monitoring. The first few will have a “set date”, however, the remaining appointments may vary based on your ovarian response. To confirm ovarian response to the injected medications, monitoring appointments will include in-office labs and transvaginal ultrasounds. A typical cycle will require about 4-6 appointments over the course of about 2 weeks. This does not include the appointments for your initial physical exam or the egg retrieval procedure.
5. Medication injections are required
You will need to administer fertility-boosting injections for 10-14 days to help you produce as many viable, healthy eggs as possible. The medications used in an egg donation cycle are the same medications you would get if you were undergoing IVF. Learn more about them here.
6. Becoming an egg donor will not negatively impact your future fertility
Egg donation is based on the idea of “rescuing oocytes” (eggs) that would not otherwise be used by the donor herself, but would instead be destroyed in a “natural” cycle. When you are ready to have children of your own, you will have remaining eggs to do so.
7. You may need to stop or change birth control methods
Egg donors cannot use the Mirena IUD, Depo Provera shot or implant birth control. Once you are matched, you will need to be prepared to use another form of contraception. The fertility clinic will instruct you on how to protect yourself during your cycle.
8. There are some risks
There are always risks associated with any medication and medical procedure, and egg donation is no exception. There is a very minimal risk of a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) which can occur any time a person takes fertility drugs. OHSS causes your ovaries to swell and may lead to abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, shortness of breath and rapid weight gain. In rare cases, OHSS may lead to life-threatening complications.
Additionally, because you are taking medication that enhances fertility, you are more likely to become pregnant if you have unprotected sex after the retrieval process. As your hormone levels return to normal, so will your chances of getting pregnant. It’s recommended that you abstain from sex until after your next period following an egg donation cycle.
9. You will receive compensation
Carolina Conceptions compensates egg donors $5,500 per egg retrieval cycle for their time and generosity. Donors can complete a maximum of six donor cycles. Keep in mind, this money is considered income and therefore is taxable. You also receive the satisfaction of knowing that you potentially helped someone achieve their dream of becoming a parent.
10. Not all fertility clinics are the same
As mentioned, the egg donation process involves medication followed by a medical procedure. Women should do some research to find the most reputable clinic. Review their success rates, read testimonials and reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
For more information
Carolina Conceptions is a full-service, private fertility clinic located two blocks from REX Hospital in Raleigh with satellite locations for physician consultations in Wilmington, Greenville and Chapel Hill. To find out if you are eligible to become an egg donor, complete our donor application form and a member of our team will be in touch.