Frequently asked questions by egg donor applicants
How long does the process take?
It can take anywhere from a few days to several months to get selected and matched with an Intended Parent. Once you are selected, the cycle takes approximately 6-9 weeks from the start of donor screening to the completion of the retrieval procedure, assuming that there are not any unforeseen medical delays. Obviously, before you can begin the IVF process you must be selected by an infertile couple and you must pass several initial medical screening tests.
Is the egg donation procedure painful?
This is a hard question to answer as it depends on each individual and their personal reaction to the egg donation process. Egg Donors do not usually complain of much overall pain, however it is common to be sore after the retrieval.
The donor will have to give blood for the initial screening and during the stimulation phase which some donors find uncomfortable. During the stimulation phase of the egg donation cycle, the egg donor will be taking medications which require daily administration by a shot in either the upper leg or lower absomen. A very small needle is used for this so most find it is not very painful other than a little pinch though you may have some minor irritation at the injection site. Also, some may have individual reactions to the medications administered such as a headache, bloating, tenderness, moodiness, etc. You should discuss the medications with the IVF physician if you have any concerns.
On the day of the egg donation retrieval, the egg donor will be given an IV by the anesthesiologist who will administer sedation medication. The IV can be a bit uncomfortable for a few minutes. During the egg donation retrieval itself, the egg donor will be fully sedated and will not feel any kind of pain, nor will she be aware of the procedure as it is taking place.
After the egg donation retrieval is completed, the egg donor may experience some mild bloating or cramping similar to what a girl may experience prior to her monthly menses or mild nausea. It is important to tell the physician if you experience any other pain or symptom so that they can address this. Pain killer may be offered post retrieval to the egg donor, if she is experiencing severe discomfort. The most important thing is to communicate any discomfort to your IVF physician so that they can properly address this.
How much is a donor compensated?
It is very important that an egg donor have more than just a monetary motivation for egg donation. That being said, in the United States donors can be legally compensated for their time, energy, risks, and efforts. We allow our egg donors to set their own individual compensation requests and we do not cap what a donor can request. That being said, it is important to note that ASRM guidelines suggest no donor should receive over $10000 per donation cycle. Most egg donors with our agency request between $7000-$10000. First time egg donors usually get a little less than experienced egg donors.
Compensation is not dependant on the success of the egg donation cycle and the egg donor will be compensated even if the cycle does not yield a pregnancy for the Intended Parents, as long as she has followed all medical instructions. Donors are given $1000 upon start of cycle medications and the remainder at completion of the retrieval.
How many medical appointments must I attend?
Most medical appointments for the egg donor are scheduled early in the morning to try and avoid disrupting work or school schedules and so that the clinic can receive same-day medical test results. There are usually between 8-12 appointments per egg donation cycle, a donor will be asked to attend, though this can vary based on the overall medical reaction per donor.
If the egg donation cycle is a long distance cycle, the egg donor may be asked to travel for around 7-10 days in order to have the retrieval performed by the IVF physician that the Intended Parent is working with. All travel expenses related to the egg donation cycle are the responsibility of the Intended Parents and the agency will make all of the travel arrangements for the egg donor as needed. Any travel requirements will be discussed with the egg donor prior to her committing to the egg donation cycle.
It is extremely important that an egg donor arrive to all appointments in a timely manner and no donor should apply who cannot commit to attending these appointments as needed. Most visits take less than 1 hour.
Will I meet the Intended Parent's or offspring created through my donation?
This depends on the personal preference of each donor, as well as the personal desires of the Intended Parents. As an egg donor candidate, you are asked if you would prefer an open or anonymous egg donation cycle. You can choose to meet the Intended Parents, have a phone conversation prior to donation, have an email relationship, or have no relationship at all. You can also choose to have future contact with the Intended Parents and potential offspring, or you can choose to be completely anonymous with no future contact. This is up to you. Of course, the Intended Parents you are matched with must also agree to your request. If you are open to either option, you can let us know this as well. We do require all of our egg donors to be willing to share their initial profile and photos with the Intended Parents and to give annual personal and family health updates to the Intended Parents should the Intended Parents request this.
Will I need to use my own health insurance for the donation?
The cost of all of your medical screenings and the expenses related to the egg donation stimulation and retrieval process are the sole responsibility of the Intended Parents. You will not be asked to use your insurance and lack of personal medical insurance will not exclude you from donating.
The Intended Parents will purchase a medical complication insurance policy on your behalf in the event that an unforeseen complication resulted from your participation as an egg donor. The blanket accident insurance policy typically offers coverage of up to $250,000 of incurred medical expenses if the egg donor experiences medical problems as a result of the egg donation cycle and a $100,000 accidental death benefit. It is the responsibility of the egg donor to research any insurance limitations and exclusions. The agency will provide the name and contact information of the insurance company and the broker.
It is recommended that any applicant or donor keep her own personal medical insurance in place at all times. This insurance is only meant for complications related to the egg donation cycle.
What are the medical risks of being an egg donor?
It would be inappropriate to answer this question without noting that we are not a licensed medical provider. This is only to be used as basic guideline information. All medical risks should be discussed directly with a licensed medical physician who specializes in fertility care (reproductive endocrinologist).
As with any medical procedure, there are always risks and possible side effects. Side effects that egg donors may or may not experience from the medications include: allergic reactions, headaches, mood swings, bloating, nausea, a feeling of fullness, and/or temporary irritation at the injection site. Egg Donors can expect to feel particularly bloated during the immediate period before and after the retrieval. Donors may also experience temporary weight gain, as a result of this bloating.
There is a small risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, which is quite rare (occurs in less than 7% of donors). Severe cases of this syndrome may result in damage to the donor's ovaries. In less severe cases, donors may experience severe bloating and strong cramping. If you show symptoms consistent with hyperstimulation, your physician may reduce your medication dosage or terminate the egg donation cycle. To combat OHSS, the physician will monitor every egg donor regularly so they can make any changes to the cycle medications to try and avoid OHSS.
With regard to the retrieval procedure, donors are exposed to the same risks as they would be if they were undergoing any other routine surgical procedure such as risk of infection, bleeding, or unintended injury of an organ. A complication of this nature is extremely rare as donors are given an antibiotic to combat any infection and this is a minimally invasive procedure. Donors will be instructed to rest the day of the retrieval, but most donors return to their normal daily activities within 48 hours following their retrieval.
Since egg donation is a relatively new procedure, all of the risks may or may not have been determined at this time, however empirical studies have not demonstrated any definitive link between egg donation and infertility, cancer, or any other long-term health problems. Since egg donation is a relatively new procedure, however, we hope to learn more about the long term effects in the future.
Again we encourage all donors to discuss and review risks with their IVF physician so that they are fully informed.
How do I get listed on the donor database?
First you must complete the online donor application. We review every completed egg donor application submitted to our agency. If we feel, after reviewing this application, the egg donor applicant is an appropriate candidate, we will contact the egg donor for a phone interview where we will review your health, academic, and personal history and answer any questions the candidate may have about the process. We will also request copies of each donor's drivers license and school transcripts so that we can verify your identity and the data provided to the agency. Once approved, your profile will be listed on our donor database for matching.
How many times can I donate my eggs?
Ultimately this is up to each individual doctor as to what they feel is appropriate. That being said, according to the ASRM guidelines, donors can donate up to six times and our agency makes all efforts to comply with these guidelines. The only exception to this guideline is in the case of a sibling match cycle where the physician feels it is appropriate to do an additional donation.
Will I be told if the donation was successful?
Most Intended Parents will notify the agency with regards to whether or not the donation resulted in a successful pregnancy. Unless the Intended Parents exclusively requests that this information not be shared with their donor and this is something that is agreed to before donation, we will always do our best to let each donor know the outcome of their egg donation. If this is important to you, let our team know so that we can match you with an Intended Parent who is willing and open to share this information.
What is the age requirement and why do they exist?
Donors must be at least 21 years of age and may not donate over the age of 32 years of age. The upper age restriction does not mean that you are not fertile or able to conceive past the age of 32. Most donors respond better to IVF stimulation in this age window. These age restrictions and guidelines are given to the agency by ASRM and the treating physicians we work with.