Being selected as an egg donor is the first step in an exciting journey to make someone’s dream of becoming a parent come true. Donating eggs is a serious commitment, but the results are highly rewarding. Once you are selected, the length of your commitment may be anywhere from six weeks to four months.
If this is your first time donating, you will have an initial screening with a doctor. Individual doctors have their own protocol but, in general, they will want to draw your blood at a certain point during your menstrual cycle for hormone tests, as well as perform a vaginal ultrasound, and then perform a psychological and genetic screening.
Once the results of these tests come back optimal, you will then need to meet with the cycling doctor, who will perform his or her own medical and genetic screening. These screenings typically include medical and genetic tests as well as blood tests for HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases and drug and nicotine testing.
When you have been medically cleared by the doctor, but before beginning stimulation medications, there is a legal process to go through before beginning stimulation medications. You will be assigned an attorney who will finalize the legal contract between you and the recipient. When the recipient’s attorney receives the signed contracts, he or she will issue a clearance letter that enables the doctor to start the medical cycle.
Your doctor will then create a medications calendar for you. These medications will stimulate your ovaries to produce the eggs needed for the donation. The medications you’ll take include birth control pills to synchronize your cycle with that of the gestational carrier, and along with daily injections of hormones (which you will perform yourself) to shut down ovulation. Side effects of this medication can include headaches, fatigue, bloating, and hot flashes. However, some donors do not experience any side effects at all.
You will also inject gonadotropin hormones that which increase the number of follicles developing in your ovaries. Finally, you will inject HCG, which prompts the final stage of maturation and egg retrieval timing. HCG is a naturally occurring hormone that stimulates ovulation. All of these medications are safe and have been used for years; the doctor will also provide you with complete instructions on how to use these medications and answer any other questions you might have. You will also be monitored while taking these medications to test hormone levels and egg growth.
Once the eggs are mature, it’s time for the retrieval procedure. This process takes about 20-30 minutes with an hour or two of recovery afterward. The doctor retrieves the eggs vaginally by aspirating them with a needle guided by ultrasound. You will receive light sedation. You will likely experience a certain amount of cramping and spotting after the retrieval.
Donating eggs is a major commitment, but most donors find that it’s well worth the effort between their compensation and the happiness of an individual or couple who dream of becoming parents.