What is Egg Donation and How to Become an Egg Donor

Approximately 15% – 20% of couples who want to have children find that they can’t get pregnant after one of year of unprotected intercourse. This is the definition of primary infertility. Couples with severe forms of infertility may have very limited options for having a baby. Certain medical conditions like a family history of endometriosis, premature menopause or strong family history of cancer can make it difficult or impossible to conceive.

Furthermore, more and more frequently there are increasing cases of age-related female infertility caused by deterioration of the woman’s eggs. Unfortunately, there is nothing that can change the health of the aging egg. Sadly, this leads to suboptimal egg development, failed implantation in the uterus, and a significant incidence in miscarriage.

This is where you can help. Egg donation is a very viable option because it gives the intended mother a chance to carry a baby in her womb. The eggs harvested from healthy donors are fertilized with the sperm from the woman’s partner and the resulting embryo is placed in the woman’s uterus. This “Gift of Life” is one of the most precious gestures an egg donor can offer someone struggling with infertility.

Young Woman Contemplating Egg Donation Photo

The Egg Donation Process

Your Safety. First and foremost, we respect your decision to donate the gift of life. Your safety and well-being are far and above the most important aspect of your donation at Global Donor Egg Bank. Care in the design of your stimulation protocol takes into account your height, weight and body habitus. This is done to help minimize overly stimulated ovaries (OHSS). Additional strategies are used to help make the stimulation as safe as possible.

In order to establish a pregnancy with your donated eggs, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) must be performed. First, you will receive a series of fertility drugs, some of which must be injected, to stimulate your ovaries to produce several eggs at one time. While using the drugs, you will have frequent monitoring in our clinic using ultrasound and blood tests.

When the eggs are mature, removing them from your ovaries involves an ultrasound guided vaginal procedure under intravenous sedation. The egg harvest and post operative observation takes about two hours.

You will be scheduled for a check-up in a few days after the egg harvest, with additional follow-up visits at two months, four months and 6 months after your egg retrieval as part of the egg quarantine process. At the 6 month visit, your egg donation cycle will be completed. During the 6 month follow-up you may undergo more than one egg donation cycle and will be compensated accordingly.

Step-by-Step Process for Donating Your Eggs

You may be interviewed over the telephone, or be sent an application which you must complete. Based on your responses, the program will decide whether you are likely or unlikely to be chosen. The chosen egg donor candidates may be invited to proceed with the selection process.
You will be given a username and password to complete a detailed online questionnaire.
You will have a physical examination, including a pelvic exam. Blood tests will be performed to check your hormone levels. Ultrasound (which uses sound waves, not X-rays) will be used to examine your uterus, ovaries and other pelvic organs.

You will complete a detailed medical and psychological history about yourself and close blood relatives. It will include questions about your use of cigarettes, alcohol, and both prescription and illegal drugs.

When blood or tissue is transferred from one person to another, it may carry viruses or bacteria. To minimize the risk that a donor egg could transmit an illness to the recipient, donors are tested for a variety of infections.

During your pelvic exam, a cervical culture will be taken to test for gonorrhea and Chlamydia. Your blood will be obtained to test for syphilis, hepatitis B and C, and HTLV-1 (a rare virus that is associated with certain cancers) an a blood test to see if you have been exposed to HIV.

Our program tries to learn all we can about a donor’s genetic history in order to minimize the chance that a baby will have a birth defect or serious inherited disease. You will be asked to provide your complete medical history along with information about your biological parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters. We will work with you to identify:

  • Any birth defects that required surgery or resulted in medical problems (such as a cleft lip, spina bifida or a heart defect).
  • Certain genetic disorders (such as Huntington’s disease, hemophilia, Tay Sachs disease or sickle cell anemia).
  • Inherited diseases that are of special interest to a recipient because of her own family history.
  • Any major medical problems, surgeries, mental retardation, or psychiatric problems.

If any of your first or second degree relatives have died, you will need to know their age and the cause of death. Some common diseases (such as cancer or heart disease) that strike when people are middle-aged or younger may be influenced in part by genetics. If you do not have access to the necessary information, either because you are adopted or there is no informed person to ask, you should not become an egg donor.

PLEASE NOTE: If any of the screening tests are reactive (positive), you may not be eligible to donate eggs and you will be advised to seek medical care from your personal physician.

Donating eggs requires you to confront ethical, emotional and social issues. The screening process will help you evaluate your desire to donate and to think through these issues.

In our program, you will meet with a mental health professional to discuss your life circumstances, your support system, your feelings about the donation, and related issues. Another goal of psychological screening is to make sure that you will fulfill the complex requirements of egg donation. Failure to follow instructions can endanger your health and jeopardize the procedure.

Our donor egg committee will meet for the second time and review the results of the steps outlined above. Following FDA criteria for eligibility, the committee will decide if you are eligible to proceed.

Ovarian stimulation will begin on a specific schedule. To produce several eggs for donation, you will need to take injectable medications to increase your egg production. All donors receive instructions on the usage, delivery, and side effects of these medications. All risks will be explained and questions answered before donors begin any ovarian stimulation medications.
At the appropriate time in the stimulation cycle, egg retrieval will be performed utilizing a vaginal ultrasound probe and attached needle guide to allow insertion of the needle through the vagina and into the ovaries. This procedure usually last approximately 45 minutes and is performed under anesthesia.

You must bring a friend or family member who can drive you home after the egg retrieval procedure. We will make a post-procedure phone call approximately one to two weeks after your retrieval to discuss how you are feeling.

Two months after your egg retrieval you will come back for a follow-up visit. At this time, you may give us a testimonial of your experience about being an egg donor. Four months after your egg retrieval, you will have a second physical examination and blood tests.

At your final visit, 6 months after your egg retrieval, we will perform the remainder of the infectious diseases screening as required by the FDA, and we will celebrate the completion of your egg donation!

Clock Frozen in Time on a Bed of Snow Photo

Becoming an Egg Donor

If you apply to become an egg donor, you will be providing the gift of life to women who desperately wish to have their own children. Donor candidates must schedule several office visits with us before they may be accepted to our program. These visits will include…

  • Complete physical and gynecological exam
  • Providing your medical and family history
  • Undergoing blood and urine tests
  • Psychological evaluation

You will also be informed by a program coordinator about your rights and responsibilities before being considered for egg donation. You must read a detailed informed consent and verbalize your understanding of the egg donation process.

Partially Underwater Photo of a Wave

What Happens to Your Eggs?

Following the egg harvest, your eggs will be frozen until the intended parents are ready to proceed. After inseminating the eggs with sperm, the resulting embryos will be grown in our laboratory and then they will be transferred into the uterus of the recipient.

If she becomes pregnant and delivers a child, she will be considered as the birth mother and, therefore, the legal mother of that child even though the child was conceived with your eggs.

Photo of an Egg Freezing Storage Container With Frozen Eggs in Straws