Thinking About It But...

Although there are risks involved with every medical procedure, the simple answer is that the egg donation process will not affect your fertility (again, feeling the need to provide a disclaimer if a malpractice event occurs). However, there are more known risk factors to one’s fertility in many of the birth control options than in an egg donation process. Listen to the risk factors listed on television ads for birth control, and you may think twice before selecting many of them.

Annually, there are thousands of egg donation cycles performed in the United States, and this number is steadily increasing with the advent of Donor Egg Bank (DEB) cycles.

In addition, everyone has heard of IVF for which nearly 200,000 cycles are performed annually in the U.S. alone. Consider that an egg donation cycle is just IVF as a “threesome.” You are stepping in for the recipient mom for the stimulation and retrieval phase of IVF. She will take over from there.

An egg donation cycle only works with the eggs the donor has available for that month…and that month only. The cycle does not “take” your BEST eggs nor does it “take” MORE of your eggs. It just helps make more of your available eggs for that month viable for ovulation.

The eggs you don’t use this month are gone forever…and same for next month and the month after that. We’d just like to put them to use – all in an effort to help recipient couples achieve their dreams of becoming parents, while not affecting your own dreams of becoming parents.

Apply. Qualify. Cycle.

We often get asked questions about whether a donor can be on birth control when starting an egg donation cycle. The short answer is, “Of course!”

Although our recipient clients are trying desperately to have a child, we understand that the “flip side” is most likely true for women who are not in a serious relationship and wanting to start their family just yet.

As it relates to egg donation, the good news is that most forms of birth control are acceptable, including having one’s tubes tied!

However, there are two forms of birth control that are not acceptable to all clinics conducting an egg donation cycle. They are…

  1. Depo-Provera – Long-term hormone-releasing method given by injection, which prevents the ovaries from releasing eggs. Depending on when the last injection was given, a donor may need to wait three to four months before she is able to start a cycle. Given that recipients all want to be parents “yesterday,” most are not willing to wait.  We require all potential donors to discontinue Depo prior to being activated as a donor candidate.
  2. Implanon / Nexplanon – Long-term hormone-releasing implant, typically in the armpit. We require all potential donors to remove prior to being activated as a donor candidate.

Again, our primary concern is for donor candidates to be protected from pregnancy. If changing birth control methods puts a potential donor at a higher risk of preventing pregnancy, we understand and suggest that egg donation may not be the best decision at this time.

Apply. Qualify. Cycle.

The easiest way to look at a overall process is to divide it into three phases:

Phase 1: Screening

Phase 2: Synching

Phase 3: Stimulation and Retrieval

Phase 1: Screening

Typically, donor screening and qualification is performed in one to three appointments and will include….

  • Individual and family history review
  • General physical
  • Blood draw and vaginal ultrasound to determine if hormone levels and follicle count are in acceptable range for egg donation
  • Blood draw for genetics, infectious disease testing and toxicology
  • Psych Interview and Personality Assessment Inventory (PAI)

Phase 2: Synching

A donor can expect to be placed on (or continue) birth control for a short period of time in order to bring hormones down to a baseline stage and to synchronize her cycle with her recipient’s or the egg bank’s retrieval dates.

Also, during this time, the donor will be presented with a tentative calendar, which will outline appointment dates from this point on until the end of the cycle.

Phase 3:  Stimulation and Retrieval

This is the most time-intensive phase of the cycle with regard to the number of appointments… However, the good news is that the appointments will be only 15 minutes in length with the exception of the retrieval, which will require 2-3 hours at the clinic.

During the stimulation phase, the donor can expect to visit the clinic every other day, typically starting on stimulation (or injection) day 4.

The day of retrieval is the only day the donor cannot go to work or school. Anesthesia will be given during the retrieval procedure, and the donor will need a friend or family member to drive her home. Cycle recovery usually takes between 48 and 72 hours.

The “official” end of the cycle will take place with the onset of menses, which should occur approximately two weeks post retrieval.  All should be back to normal, and you will be able to start your next cycle at the onset of your next menses (approximately four weeks later).

Apply. Qualify. Cycle.

We understand that one of your primary reasons for donating your eggs is for financial reasons – to help you pay for college, pay down debt, or save for your future needs.  We love that!

We look forward to discussing your cycle compensation, but it is difficult to quote here… Why? Because different cycles carry various compensation rates…

  • Fresh Traditional vs. Donor Egg Bank
  • First-time vs. Proven Donor Cycles
  • Cycle Location
  • Cycle Bonuses!

Many programs quote a specific compensation amount in their ads. That amount is usually not accurate for all cycle types. Also, it is really easy to advertise a very high compensation rate, but what you don’t see is how many donors in some of these programs never get selected.

Our goal is to start the screening process with every qualified donor upon profile activation. When you decide to provide this wonderful gift, we understand that your desire is to move forward immediately.

Think of us as acting as your agent. It’s our role to provide every opportunity for you to consider… it’s your job to tell us what works for you and what doesn’t work for you.

Bottom Line: A donor in our program who completes six cycles can expect to earn between $38,000 – $45,000.

Apply. Qualify. Cycle.

We understand that there are some donor candidates who are concerned about how one’s religion, culture, or family might react to the idea of egg donation.

Allow us to first address the “elephant in the room.” Some religions reject helping others via any assisted reproduction, let alone egg donation. Fun fact: at one time, the world’s supply of hormonal infertility medications was supplied with help of the Vatican. Yep! It’s true. The highest levels of natural follicle-stimulating hormone can be found in post-menopausal women. And… who was thought to have the “purest” post-menopausal women? The nuns at the Vatican!

We often hear that some donor candidates are afraid to tell their “inner circle” due to potential cultural, religious, or familial ties to the donor’s eggs.

Egg donation is TISSUE donation….

If one would consider donating blood, then why not consider donating one’s eggs? If you would donate your blood, presumably it would be to help save a life.

So, if you would donate to save a life, why not donate to help create a life? You have an AMAZING opportunity to help others in need of this incredible gift.

Apply. Qualify. Cycle.

This is not only a common concern for the donor but, also, the donor’s family and friends… the concern being that the donor-conceived child will look just like the donor.

With regard to physical features, the donor-conceived child may look nothing like you. The science behind this is epigenetics, which refers to changes in phenotype (appearance) or gene expression caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence.

As an analogy, think of your music playlist today…

There are a multitude of songs (DNA). However, you may play some songs over and over whereas some are played seldomly or not at all. You can change the song’s volume or the order in which you play your songs. That’s epigenetics… it doesn’t change your playlist… it just changes how they are played.  Many of you can look at to your own family to see how siblings can look very differently or which sensitivities, such as allergies, are expressed. 

Another way to look at this is that the donor-conceived child has three parents rather than two. Although the donor will provide her DNA, the womb is a powerful tool with regard to “influencing” the donor-conceived child’s appearance and sensitivities. And let’s not forget the male side of the "equation" whose DNA will also play a significant role.

Apply. Qualify. Cycle.

Fortunately, there are very few side effects associated with egg donation.

The primary hormone for the egg donation injections is something you already produce on your own…every month. Just think of it as a “super dose” of what you naturally produce on your own. Follicle-Stimulating Hormone (FSH) regulates the development, growth, maturation, and reproductive processes of the body.

In a typical cycle (non-egg donation), one follicle typically will develop into the lead or dominant follicle. This follicle will release the egg at ovulation. The goal of an egg donation cycle is to create multiple “lead” or “dominant” follicles, making more of the eggs you have available for that month viable for ovulation.

The most common side effect associated with fertility medications is called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, or OHSS. It is a condition in which the ovaries respond in an exaggerated way to the fertility medication used to produce eggs, causing fluid retention. Fortunately, OHSS in its severe form is very rare, but it can be potentially dangerous.  Donors are monitored throughout the stimulation (or injection) phase so that adjustments in dosage can be made to minimize OHSS should it occur. Treatment options include rest, medication and increased intake of fluids.

Apply. Qualify. Cycle.

The best way to look at an egg donation cycle is as a PART-TIME JOB… one for which you will be well compensated.

Here are some common donor applicant questions:

  • I’m available on weekdays after 5 pm or weekends only… will that work? NO
  • Monday is my day off… can I schedule all of my appointments on that day? NO
  • My schedule changes every week so my availability may change. Is that OK?  NO
  • Can I schedule my retrieval for Friday? Maybe!

 However, there’s good news, too!

  • I have a vacation or exam period coming up… can we work around things like that? YES
  • Can I obtain a "doctor’s note" when necessary? YES
  • Will I know my appointment dates with enough notice to make arrangements for work / kids / school? YES
  • Are appointment times flexible and short? Answer: YES, most of the time.

The clinic with which you will be working is staffed with caring individuals who understand you have a life outside of egg donation.   However, we ask that donors understand that this process is time-sensitive and expensive… being responsive and responsible are critical to a cycle’s success!

Apply. Qualify. Cycle.