The process of egg donation can be a long and taxing one, but it can also provide a sense of accomplishment and joy at helping others. Completing this process may be slightly different depending on which agency you choose or where you are located, but the general steps are the same. Let’s look at each step in some detail. Remember this is not a perfect list, but it should get you started.
Some agencies will call this the first screening or application phase. This is where you begin contact with the agency. Most agencies will have a questionnaire that you will fill out with basic background questions.
For example, the University of California at San Francisco’s application asks for basic background like name and address and also asks about education, ethnicity, pregnancy and menstrual history, health status, height weight, medical history, birth control history, family medical history, and egg donation related questions. This questionnaire is designed so that the staff at the fertility clinic can quickly determine candidates that would not be eligible donors. This is just the beginning of the egg donation process, though.
Staff Consultation or Prescreening Verification
Some agencies will contact potential donors to discuss their application. This will include verifying or clarifying answers to the prescreening application. This is when they will verify whether or not applicants made a mistake and claimed one background thing for another. This will also let the agency know if you have new information or explanations. For example, if you were treated for gonorrhea as a teenager, but are 25 now, it may not be a factor.
Once you pass these two initial consultations, you will begin the physical and psychological screenings. The order in which they occur may change by agency, but they will consist of the following:
Physical Exam with OB/GYN or Reproductive Endocrinologist
In order to complete this process, donors will be given fertility treatments for the stimulation of egg production. Meeting with a team of fertility experts is essential. The exam will include a pelvic exam and often bloodwork. The physician will also likely consult the donor to explain all of the procedures with her. She will have the opportunity to ask questions and understand all risks before beginning.
Genetic Screening and Karyotyping
Genetic screening is generally done as a blood test or cheek swab. These tests are fairly simple and may take several days up to a month or so to get results. There are several conditions and risk factors that the genetics team is detecting. For example, Fairfax Egg Bank lists twenty-five separate conditions to test for excluding hepatitis A, B, C, and STIs.
STI and Other Infectious Disease Testing
This may include HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis, current Gonorrhea and Chlamydia infections, and other previous infections of things like the Zika virus. These conditions can affect the potential child, so they must be detected before the donor completes the process. Past infections with Gonorrhea and Chlamydia may not exclude the donor, but a recent infection may.
Urine or blood-related drug testing
This is not because they do not trust donors, but some behaviors are potentially dangerous to the donor due to the egg donation process itself.
Because this can be a long process, the agency will perform psychological testing to determine a candidate’s eligibility. Rejection or acceptance at this stage is not good or bad. Some people cannot handle the process and others can.
Preparing Your Body for Donation
Once you have made it through the screening process, you will begin the process of donating your eggs. This process takes a few weeks at least, but many agencies compensate well. The following are the steps in this process:
This may seem counterintuitive, but the birth control helps to get the donor and recipient’s cycles in the same cycle. You will likely be told when how to take the birth control pills to trigger your menstrual flow at the same time as the recipient.
This injection will prevent a donor from ovulating before the clinic is ready for stimulation.
Follicle Stimulating Hormone injections
This will stimulate the ovaries to begin producing eggs. This will begin a monitoring process.
Monitoring and Retrieval
This may include pelvic exams, ultrasounds, and blood samples. These exams occur over a two-week period on multiple mornings. World Egg Bank indicates up to ten appointments may occur in this period. Donors may not attend ten, but they will be required to commit to many mornings during this time.
Egg retrieval is done vaginally, and many places may choose general anesthesia which means that donors will need a ride home from the clinic.
Recovery is usually quick, and you should be able to resume your daily activities within a day, but some clinics recommend waiting up to a month to resume regular activities.
Things to Remember
You will need to abstain from sexual intercourse during this time because your own fertility will be increased, and you will be disqualified if you become pregnant in the process.
Many clinics do not compensate until after the egg retrieval appointment, but donors should receive their compensation within a short time. Some even offer referral services. Subsequent retrievals may result in more compensation. Check with your agency.
While egg donation can be a lengthy, stressful experience, it can also be a very rewarding one, both financially and emotionally. Many couples and individuals rely on surrogates, egg, and sperm donors to get pregnant each year. This is a wonderful program that many universities and agencies offer to help potential parents realize their dreams.
Whether you are an egg donor or recipient parents, you can find more information about the different types of egg donations in the following post: Types of egg donation.