My Journey As An Egg Donor
Maybe you’ve seen ads online. Maybe you’ve heard stories from a friend. Perhaps you need to make some extra money for school, or you really want to help another person or couple create a new life.
The reasons for becoming an egg donor are as unique as each woman who has even entertained the thought. The only thing that outnumbers the reasons for becoming an egg donor are the questions that go along with making such an important decision.
As a veteran egg donor, I remember mulling over many of the same reasons, and I’ve asked the same questions. What do egg donors need to know about donating? Here are a few of the most common questions:
How does it work?
Choosing the team you want to work with for egg donation is crucial. Egg donation requires a significant physical and emotional investment on the part of the donor, and you should be treated with care and respect. Look for a team that is responsive to your questions and checks in on your well-being. You should be treated with the same care and respect afforded a recipient. You are about to embark on an intense process, and you need to feel confident in the team you are trusting to guide you through.
The next step is to determine whether your health and overall wellbeing make you a good candidate to become an egg donor. Egg donors selected by New England Fertility are usually between the ages of 19 and 29, have no significant medical history or hereditary genetic diseases, and have a body mass index (BMI) of 28 or lower. Women interested in donating eggs undergo extensive screening, including blood/drug screening, as well as thorough physical and mental evaluations.
Once screening has determined you are healthy, you are available to be matched with a recipient. The team at New England Fertility works carefully to bring together just the right donor and just the right recipient. Once a match is made, the process of harvesting eggs begins in earnest.
First, your cycle and the recipient’s cycles will be synced up using birth control pills. Once cycles are in sync and timing is right, you’ll begin to inject yourself with hormones aimed at stimulating egg growth.
Do needles make you nervous, and does the thought of injecting yourself make you particularly squeamish? Don’t worry – you’ll be coached through the process to start, and the needles are very small and most donors don’t find them too troublesome. A little ice on the injection spot usually relieves any discomfort.
During the injection process, you’ll be carefully monitored to be sure your egg follicles are growing appropriately, and you are tolerating the process well.
Like many donors, I experienced the PMS-like symptoms during this part of the process: bloating, tenderness and general moodiness. My symptoms were a bit more intense than my average cycle, but manageable. As the process went on, my symptoms became more intense, more like the very early stages of pregnancy. Because I anticipated this, I wasn’t too alarmed and I was able to tolerate it well.
Once follicles are mature, you’ll be readied for the retrieval process. Eggs are retrieved vaginally. You’ll be comfortably sedated, and the doctor will pass a needle through the vaginal wall to carefully remove around a 10 – 15 eggs.
My own retrieval procedure lasted only around 30 minutes, but I remained under observation for a couple of hours as I recovered from anesthesia. A close friend drove me home from the clinic (a must!) and stayed with me the rest of the day to make sure I rested comfortably.
I was able to resume most of my usual activities the next day, and I was back to 100 percent within a week.
What are the risks?
There’s no question that egg donation is an intense process, but as medical procedures go, it’s very low risk.
Perhaps the biggest risk is a condition known as Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). OHSS results in enlarged ovaries, which could lead to blood clots and other complications. OHSS occurs about 5 percent of all cases of ovarian stimulation for egg retrieval. Careful monitoring throughout the process and follow up after will help detect signs of OHSS.
Fortunately, like the vast majority of egg donors, I did not experience any OHSS symptoms, nor difficulties due to the anesthesia used during the retrieval. I tolerated the anesthesia well, and my recovery was smooth. If you have difficulty with anesthesia, your results may be different.
Long-term, it is not believed that egg donation has any significant impact on the health or reproductive ability of the donor. At this point, I have no concerns about my future ability to conceive and carry my own children.
How will I feel after?
Every egg donor will feel a little differently. For me, the feeling I experienced most was a sense of accomplishment. I wanted to donate my eggs because I felt a strong desire to help another person become a parent. While I donated anonymously, the recipients of my eggs did request the team at New England Fertility let me know that they were able to conceive, and they have finally started the family that they long dreamed of.
I’m considering donating again, and helping another family get its start.
If you are considering becoming an egg donor, I recommend that you to contact New England Fertility. They can answer your specific questions, and guide you through the process of deciding if becoming a donor is right for you. If you do decide to become a donor, you’ll be in good, caring hands with this team.lity. They can answer your specific questions, and guide you through the process of deciding if becoming a donor is right for you. If you do decide to become a donor, you’ll be in good, caring hands with this team.