What You Should Know About Becoming An Egg Donor

Egg donation programs generally require that young women who want to donate eggs to women who are infertile or carriers of serious genetic diseases undergo thorough medical screening and psychological evaluation. Participation in an egg donation program requires good health, commitment of time, and dedication toward helping an infertile couple have a baby. Although the procedure has potential risks, women often consider the side effects a minor factor when compared to contributing to bringing a new life into the world. Still, it's important to have a clear understanding of just what the process involves.

Understanding the Screening Process

If you are considering donating your eggs, you will need to provide the egg donation program with a comprehensive family medical history. You will also be screened for genetic diseases and common medical illnesses. Along with routine screening tests for infectious diseases, including hepatitis A, B, and C, HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, you'll receive mental health screening.

Knowing What to Expect

Usually, the first step in an egg donation program is submitting your personal and your family's medical history along with a recent photograph of yourself. The next step includes undergoing a physical examination, cervical culture testing, and blood testing. Once these steps are completed, you'll be scheduled for a psychological evaluation.

After applying to become an egg donor and meeting the program's qualifying criteria, a health professional will instruct you on how to inject fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries. When eggs are ready for harvesting, the procedure will be scheduled. At the time of the procedure, you'll receive anesthesia through an IV to relax you during the process.

A fertility specialist removes mature eggs from your ovaries, using ultrasound to guide the needle into the follicle, which are egg sacs in the ovaries. Eggs are collected from each follicle using suction. Although performed on an out-patient basis, the procedure is considered to be minor surgery. Therefore, after eggs have been retrieved, you will remain in the recovery room for a couple of hours for observation.

Being Aware of the Possible Risks

While many women who donate eggs experience no side effects, symptoms that may occur following the procedure include abdominal cramping, bloating, spotting, and headaches. Any discomfort following the procedure normally is mild, but in some cases, bleeding or infection can occur if the needle used to aspirate the follicles during egg retrieval punctures tissue or an organ. However, infection tends to be uncommon when doctors prescribe prophylactic antibiotics prior to the procedure.

The use of fertility drugs prior to egg donation can sometimes lead to weight gain and moodiness. And even though the risk is slim, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome–a condition due to excessive hormones that cause the ovaries to swell and become painful–may occur. Symptoms of mild ovarian hyperstimulation normally go away on their own. Your doctor may prescribe pain-relieving medication.

Considering the Benefits

Besides helping an infertile woman who is unable to conceive on her own, egg donation offers additional benefits. You get free health screening and testing for genetic disorders–a benefit if you are thinking about starting a family of your own. Although the rates vary, you also receive compensation for your time, effort, and commitment.