If you’re interested in becoming an egg donor, you probably want to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. You’ll have a lot of questions, and making sure you’re prepared for the procedure will ease your mind and solidify your decision. Here are some basic answers to a few of the most common questions.
Do I Qualify?
The selection process involves many medical appointments to assess your ability to donate healthy eggs. You will have a physical exam, an ultrasound, and your blood will be drawn to check your hormone levels and for various infections that may make you ineligible. You will also be tested for diseases such as gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis, and HIV. Finally, you will also be required to complete a comprehensive physical and psychological history.
In addition to your personal physical health, you will also undergo a genetic make-up exam. Doctors (and prospective parents) want to ensure that the baby has the best chances of being born with strong, healthy genes that will minimize the risk of medical problems or birth defects.
If you pass all of the required exams and the doctors find you and your eggs healthy, you will qualify for the procedure.
When Should I Not Donate?
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine suggests that some women should not attempt to donate eggs based on various situations in their personal lives. Some of these include:
- If you have a psychological disorder
- If you use drugs or drink alcohol
- If you are under significant marital or other stress
- If you are in an unstable relationship or marriage
- If you use psychoactive medications
Emotional health is just as important as physical health when it comes to donating eggs, and many doctors recommend seeing a counselor even when you have no prior emotional concerns before donating.
What Will My Involvement with the Child Be?
If the mother who receives your eggs becomes pregnant and has a child, she will be the child’s birth and legal mother. The child might be genetically related to you, but you will have no legal rights.
What if I am Asked to Donate?
Close friends or family members may ask you to donate eggs. In this case, be very careful about your emotional ability to donate. You will still have to go through the same medical process that unknown donors do, but you will also have to deal with additional emotional repercussions.
How will you deal with interacting regularly with your genetic child? Will your relationship with the recipient or her child (your genetic child) change?
What is the Process Like?
You will be prescribed medication that will stop your normal menstrual cycle. A doctor will then give you fertility drugs (which have to be injected, either by yourself or a doctor). You will have several appointments during the fertilization cycle to monitor your health. After a specified time, you will receive another injection that will prepare your body for egg retrieval.
The eggs will be removed from your body with a minor surgery that will last about 30 minutes. It can take anywhere from 24 hours to a few days to recover completely. Your doctor will prescribe antibiotics to prevent infection, and you may also be required to return to the doctor for one or two checkups in the days following the procedure.
What are the Risks?
The egg donation process is not without risks. The medications may give you headaches, nausea, bloating, or hormonal imbalances that affect your mood.
You may also experience discomfort during the surgery itself, but in most cases, the procedure is safe.
In worst case scenarios, you may contract Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which can result in serious medical issues such as kidney failure, fluid in the lungs, or the loss of your ovaries. Less than 5% of egg donors experience this, however, and even if you contract the syndrome, your case will likely be less-severe, and result only in cramping and bloating.
Before you sign any contracts or start any procedures, make sure you talk to a medical specialist. Reading articles and other literature can put you on the right path, but nothing will prepare you like talking to a doctor who knows you. He or she can help you make an informed decision based on your experiences and your body’s capabilities.
Make this decision carefully, prepare well, and your experience will be rich and rewarding.