We are not a medical facility and, therefore, we are unable to give medical advice. However, we would like to provide some basic medical information for our donors which is informative for our recipients as well. We recommend that you also review our ‘Egg Donation Process’ page so you may see all the steps that will be required of our egg donors in a typical egg donor cycle.
Females are born with all of their eggs, about one to two million immature eggs, or follicles, in her ovaries. Throughout her life, the vast majority of follicles will die through a process known as atresia. When a woman reaches puberty and starts to menstruate, only about 400,000 follicles remain. Each month when a woman menstruates, an average of 10-20 eggs are produced, but this number differs with each female. There is a dominant egg selected by the body that will be used for ovulation and the other eggs are released or absorbed by the body. When a donor participates in an egg donation cycle, the fertility drugs that she takes will have her body develop the eggs that would normally be discarded by her body during that month’s menstrual cycle.
The Egg Donor will work with the IVF physician selected by the recipient couple. Each physician has his or her own protocol for the cycle. Once the donor is medical cleared by the doctor (when all the pre-testing and medical/genetic testing results come back with excellent results), the doctor will draft up a medications calendar for the egg donor to follow. Donors typically take medications for about 3 weeks leading up to the egg retrieval. While on medications, donors will be medically monitored every couple of days to ensure the medications and dosage are correct for the best possible retrieval. The medical monitoring consists of a blood draw and an ultrasound. The medications protocol may change depending on the Egg Donor’s reaction to the drugs.
As previously mentioned, the medications the egg donor takes helps develop all the eggs produced during the donor’s menstrual cycle. The fertility doctor in charge of your cycle wants to have the best possible retrieval and has your safety and well being as a priority. The IVF physician should educate you and provide more details about the medications you will be taking and the exact medical procedures. When you are working with the primary IVF physician for your egg donor cycle, the IVF center should provide written information about the medications and procedures, as well as the possible side effects and risks associated with each medication and procedure.
As with any medications and medical procedures, there are potential risks that are assumed by the patient. Long term consequences of egg donation are not known, but we believe that the medical risks associated with egg donation are very low and that egg donation is a safe process. We are an egg donation agency and not a medical facility so we are not able to discuss the actual or potential side effects of medications or procedures as this may be deemed as ‘practicing medicine.’ We are only able to share the knowledge that we have accumulated over the 20+ years of working in the infertility industry, but it is the donor’s sole responsibility to research all such risks and to discuss all medical issues with your doctor. Two informative websites we recommend our donors to visit to investigate more about the medications, procedures and potential side effects are TheAFA.org and ASRM.org These are two non-profit organizations that are well-respected in the infertility field.
Typically, the first medication will be birth control pills to synchronize your monthly menstrual cycle with the carrier, who could be the aspiring mother or the recipient’s surrogate. Next, you will take daily injections of hormones (most likely Lupron), to shut down your ovulation, putting you in a short-term menopausal condition. The daily injections are self administered and often administered in the thigh or belly with a small needle. The primary IVF physician or their nurse coordinator will show you how to do this. The injections are simple to administer. These daily injections will be for about 10-14 days.
After injecting Lupron, you will begin a series of injections using gonadotropin hormones such as Follistim, Gonal-F, Repronex or Menopur which assists in increasing the number of follicles developing in the ovaries. The reason for the follicles to develop is they contain the eggs that the physician is trying to grow for the retrieval. To time the egg retrieval and to bring the final stages of maturation to the eggs, the egg donor will receive an HCG injection to stimulate ovulation as the final injection. HCG is has been used safely for many years and is a natural hormone.
It is essential that you speak with the IVF physician to understand everything required of you prior to starting any medications. While on medications, the donor is extremely fertile and it is crucial to refrain from all sexual activity. If the donor becomes pregnant or contracts an STD while on medications, the cycle will have to be cancelled, and the donor will be in breach of contract and subject to reimbursement of all costs the recipient couple incurred for the screening, travel, medications, etc. for the donor cycle. Normal sexual activity may be resumed 8-10 days after the retrieval when the donor’s menstrual cycle starts.
While on medications, there are other restrictions the donor must follow. The donor must refrain from consuming any medications not prescribed or approved by the IVF physician. The donor must also refrain from consuming alcohol. The other medications or alcohol may have an impact on the effectiveness of the stimulation medications, which in turn may affect the quality and quantity of your eggs and the resulting embryos. The donor will be in breach of contract if she consumes alcohol or take drugs during the medications stage.
Most egg donation cycles are free of complications, but if you are experiencing any side effects as a result of taking any medications prescribed by the IVF doctor, you should notify the doctor and the IVF center immediately. Failure to notify the doctor could result in severe complications. Your health and well-being is the most important thing so please monitor how you feel and contact the IVF doctor if you have any questions or are experiencing any symptoms or complications.