The Ins and Outs of Becoming an Egg Donor
Chances are that you’ve known someone in your life who’s had difficulty with pregnancy. Maybe they’ve struggled with getting pregnant or have had miscarriages in the past. Whatever the reason, many of these potential parents will go through great lengths to gain a healthy and happy pregnancy. What if you could have an invaluable part in that process? Today, thousands of women are choosing to become egg donors, and infertile couples are thankful for those who choose to.
According to the American Pregnancy Association, over 6 million American couples struggle with infertility. That’s roughly 10 percent of the population still within childbearing age, an astounding number.
Experts attribute it to the fact that many couples are choosing to have families later in life. Also, specific types of sexually transmitted diseases could have an effect on fertility as well.
At any rate, some couples still want to troubleshoot and find a way to start a family, including looking into an egg donor. If you’re a healthy individual, here’s where you could step in.
Requirements for Donation
Specifically, becoming an egg donor means that a healthy woman will donate her eggs to another woman as a form of assisted reproduction. While the donation itself can be a time-intensive and intrusive process, you will get the benefit of all medical expenses paid and a nice donation sum to reward you for your efforts.
At the same time, you should take great care when considering this process—it should not be because of the compensation itself.
According to Egg Donor America, you should meet all of the preliminary requirements before inquiring more deeply. These include:
- Overall good physical and mental health
- Regular menstrual cycle
- Non-smoking and no history of substance abuse
- Between ages 21 to 31
- Have both ovaries
- BMI between 19–29
- No history of genetic disorders
- Willingness to take injections
Things to Consider
It’s important that you make your decision carefully and deliberately. First of all, the retrieval procedure is considered a surgery, meaning that surgical complications like bleeding, stomach pain, injury to the stomach and bowel or infection could occur. Also, although no research has shown egg donorship to be unsafe long-term, the process and research is fairly new.
Other complications could include allergic reactions to antibiotics, anesthesia or fertility drugs. Sometimes, those undergoing assisted reproductive procedures will have some psychological stress as well due to its personal nature.
Finally, the most serious known complication is Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome, in which the ovaries become swollen and painful. While not common, OHSS can turn severe and cause complications that require medical attention.
Becoming an egg donor does include a small risk for developing these complications, just like any other medical procedure will have its own set of risks. You should know about these risks before going into the process, but understand that you will be working with knowledgeable doctors and undergoing thorough evaluation.
In the end, the charity that you’re giving another family can be worth far more than the trouble or inconvenience you may experience.
What to Expect
If you do decide to become an egg donor, you should understand the entire process you’ll be going through before binding yourself to any agreements. First, you’ll undergo a rigorous series of examinations.
The doctor will need to examine the production of your ovaries and overall fertility through pelvic exams and blood tests. Then, you’ll be examined for infectious diseases, especially STDs, and your partner may also need this examination.
Finally, the doctor will ensure your psychological well-being and genetics before going any further. Overall, this series of medical testing could last up to several months and involve a number of doctor’s appointments.
Once you’ve passed all initial evaluations, you will be asked to start birth control to synchronize your cycle with the potential parent. Then, you’ll need to be all right with daily hormone injections for a total of about one month.
These injections help to stimulate the ovaries’ production and prepare them to release the eggs in a similar way to in vitro fertilization (IVF). Some women attest that these injections are small with little pain, but you should know that it may vary from person to person.
Next, the doctor will perform another exam for STDs and inject a final yet important hormone called HCG. About two days later, you’ll undergo egg retrieval.
At this point, you’ll need a full 24 hours free to complete the procedure and rest. The doctor will give you general anesthesia and then insert a needle into the abdomen to retrieve the egg. This procedure only takes about half an hour to complete and is generally safe with few complications.
However, you will receive a follow-up visit to ensure your well-being about one week after the procedure. Apart from strenuous exercise, you can go back to work the next day.
Because the process does take effort to evaluate and self-administer injections, only undertake the process if you know you can follow all directions completely and attend all appointments. Doctors and potential parents will be grateful for your maturity and kind consideration.
Becoming an egg donor is a serious but invaluable form of charity. While you and other women may have no problem starting a family, millions of other Americans suffer with the inability to reproduce on their own. By donating, you are helping a young, willing couple to love and cherish their own children, an ability that will continue making a difference for years to come.