Comprehensive Guide to the

egg donation process

This is your comprehensive guide to the egg donation journey with Emerald Donors. From the initial steps to what you can expect along the way, including potential risks, we’ll illuminate every aspect of the process. By the end of this page, you’ll have a thorough understanding of the egg donation process, ready to make informed decisions with confidence. Let’s explore the details together!

understanding the process

To kick things off, we highly recommend watching this enlightening TedEd video on the IVF process, which beautifully captures the essence of the journey with captivating visual imagery.

Fertility Screening

48 hours

Results are typically available within 48 hours. Appointment wait times depend on the screening facility and your menstrual cycle.

What to Expect:

An AMH test measures the levels of AMH in your blood. AMH is produced by the small follicles in your ovaries and indicates your ovarian reserve, which is the number of eggs you have. This test is done to ensure there are an adequate number of egg.

Where completed: local blood depot
Sample type: blood

For more details, watch our informative video:

@emeralddonors AMH (anti-Müllerian hormone)? What is it? #eggdonor #eggdonationjourney #eggdonationprocess #eggdonoragency #ivfgotthis #womenshealth #yourbody #reproduction #tiktoksouthafrica🇿🇦 #eggdonorrequirements #howitworks #amh #antimullerianhormone #womenownedbusiness #foryou #fyp ♬ Pretty Girls Walk – Big Boss Vette

It involves using ultrasound imaging to count the number of small follicles in the ovaries. These small follicles are potential egg-containing structures that could develop into mature eggs during ovarian stimulation for egg retrieval. The AFC is essential in assessing the ovarian reserve, and checking for any cysts or abnormalities.

Where completed: local gynaecologist or radiograpy facility
Sample type: transvaginal ultrasound scan

Risks:

Discovering that your fertility health is not optimal can be distressing. There is also the potential disappointment of being disqualified as a donor.

 

Carrier Screening

4 - 5 weeks

What to expect:

Provide a blood or saliva sample for analysis.

The laboratory will examine your DNA to identify specific genetic mutations associated with certain disorders.

Upon receiving the report, it will be carefully reviewed to determine if any conditions would preclude you from becoming an egg donor.

Genetic matching in egg donation extends beyond evaluating the egg donor’s genetic profile alone. It also involves screening the sperm source to ensure they are not carriers of the same genetic conditions as the egg donor. For instance, if both the sperm and egg source are carriers of the same recessive genetic condition, there is a 25% chance that their child will inherit the condition, making it an unsuitable match. By carefully matching donors and recipients based on their genetic profiles, clinics aim to increase the likelihood of a healthy outcome for any resulting pregnancies.

Risks:

Learning that you are a carrier of a genetic condition can be challenging and may impact your future family planning. Additionally, being a carrier of certain genetic conditions could disqualify you from being an egg donor.

 

Matching

Varies for each case

This exciting stage involves being matched with intended parent(s) or connecting with our network  reputable egg bank.

What to expect:

Discuss your availability, possibly answer additional questions about your health and family history, and explore the details of the donation process. Your questions are encouraged.

Complete necessary forms if matched.

Ensure completion of fertility and carrier screening

Start the birth control pill to prepare for the cycle.

Risks:

There is a risk of disappointment if a potential match falls through due to financial constraints, timing issues, or genetic incompatibilities. Additionally, not being selected can leave you feeling inadequate.

Screening

2 weeks to 1 month

This timeframe may vary depending on the specific screening requirements of the clinic and the completion and validity of screenings already undergone.

What to expect:

General health screening for egg donors usually includes a full blood count, drug testing, pap smear, and thyroid functioning checks. These assessments are conducted to confirm your good health and to identify any underlying conditions that could affect the donation process.

Where completed: blood depots and screening facilities

In addition to standard genetic screening, you may be required to complete additional tests such as karyotyping and screening for hemoglobinopathies.
  • Karyotyping: Examines the structure of chromosomes to detect any abnormalities.
  • Hemoglobinopathy screening: Checks for disorders affecting the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity.

  Where completed: local blood depot

Involves a session with a genetic counselor to thoroughly explore your family medical history, assess potential genetic risks, and review your carrier screening results, along with any additional genetic testing available. 

Where completed: via telephonic or online video meeting.

Report: a report is generated summarizing the findings and the genetic counselor’s evaluation of your eligibility to proceed with egg donation.

Involves a session with a mental health professional to thoroughly explore your psychological well-being. This includes assessing for any mental health issues, understanding your motivations for donation, evaluating your emotional readiness, and discussing your coping strategies. The goal is to ensure that you are mentally prepared for the egg donation process, capable of handling any emotional challenges that may arise, and to eliminate any psychological issues that could have a genetic component.

Where completed: via online video meeting.

Report: Following the assessment, a report is compiled summarizing the findings and the mental health professional’s evaluation of your psychological suitability to proceed with egg donation.

You will be asked to sign consent forms that outline your rights and responsibilities, confidentiality agreements, and any legal agreements specific to your donation type. Each case is different as it depends on where the donation takes place, who the donation is to and the type of donation. Typically, you can expect:
  • Legal consent: Agreements on custodial rights, anonymity, and storage and use of your donated eggs.
  • Medical consents: Forms will cover egg retrieval, possible risks, and side effects.

The goal is to ensure that you are fully informed and comfortable with every aspect of the donation process, safeguarding both your rights and the rights of any potential offspring and the intended parents.

Risks:

Facing the possibility that your health may not be optimal, discovering you are a carrier of a genetic condition, or being disqualified can be distressing.

Pre-Stimulation

5 days

After you have passed all the screening requirements to the clinic’s satisfaction and the dates are set, you will be ready to start stimulation. But first we will conduct a few tests to ensure an optimal setting to start the medication.

What to expect:

You will be instructed to stop your birth control pill so you can start your period, which will allow us to commence stimulation.

We will wait for your period before starting stimulation because it marks the beginning of a new menstrual cycle. Initiating stimulation during the early follicular phase ensures that your ovaries are in the optimal baseline state for the process.

Before beginning stimulation, hormone levels are checked in egg donors to ensure optimal conditions for the stimulation process. This involves assessing estradiol (E2), luteinizing hormone (LH), progesterone (P4), and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). These tests help determine ovarian function, cycle phase, hormone levels, and potential pregnancy status, ensuring the safest and most effective fertility treatment.

This scan ensures that the ovaries are free from any cysts and confirms the presence of multiple small follicles, ensuring an optimal environment for the stimulation process.

Risks:

A postponed or canceled cycle due to a cyst or abnormal hormone levels can be disappointing, causing worry about the intended parents and disrupting plans. A canceled cycle may trigger emotions of failure or inadequacy.

Stimulation

10-13 days

This is when you start follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) medication to grow and mature the follicles.

What to expect:

You will receive a stimulation calendar detailing your medication, dosages, and times as determined by the clinic’s appointed physician.

The medication used in this process is a combination of:

Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH or Gonadotropins)
Brand names: Gonal-F®, Menopur®, Follistim®
Purpose: Stimulates, develops, and matures follicles.

Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone Antagonist (GnRH Antagonist)
Brand names: Ganirelix® or Cetrotide®
Purpose: Prevents premature ovulation.

For more information, you can also view our video on how the medication “rescues” the eggs:

@emeralddonors Many ask, “do you leave me any eggs?” or, “how many eggs do you take from me”. Here is a visual explanation of how your eggs work during a natural cycle and how, in a stimulated cycle, the medication helps ‘save’ them. #eggdonor #ivfgotthis #womenshealth #yourbody #reproduction #howitworks #eggdonationjourney #eggdonoragency #tiktoksouthafrica🇿🇦 #foryoupage #womenempowerment #fypシ #internationaleggdonor ♬ golden – 3 minute audios

As an egg donor, you will have daily communication regarding your medication regimen with your coordinator. This ensures that you are fully informed, administering the correct dosages, and are supported throughout the process of ovarian stimulation.

Typically, you will need to attend around 2-4 monitoring appointments, which entail ultrasound scans to track follicle development, along with blood tests to measure your hormone levels such as estradiol (E2) and luteinizing hormone (LH). These assessments are crucial for observing the progress of the stimulation, ensuring a safe and optimal response, and facilitating medication adjustments. Additionally, monitoring helps determine when the follicles are mature and trigger medication administration. For more information, you can also watch our video on monitoring appointments.

Where completed: typically you would complete 1 appointment locally and the others at the international clinic.

@emeralddonors Curious about the egg donor monitoring ultrasound? Join an egg donor for an inside look! It’s not just painless; it’s an incredible journey of self-discovery. 🌈💫 #EggDonationJourney #dayinmylife #EggDonation #eggdonor #FertilityInsights #ScienceBehindLife #WomenInScience #EmpowerThroughKnowledge #BodyPositivity #HealthAndWellness #EducateInspireEmpower #m#MedicalMarvels #fyp #ivfgotthis ♬ original sound – Emerald Donors

You will be required to travel internationally to the clinic. At the international destination, you will receive support from your clinic and an expert companion, the egg donor coordinator.

The most common side effects of egg donor medication typically include:

  • Bloating and discomfort: Ovarian stimulation can cause bloating and discomfort in the pelvic area.
  • Fatigue: Some donors may experience fatigue due to hormonal changes.
  • Headaches: Headaches are occasionally reported as a side effect of stimulation medication.
  • Breast tenderness: Hormonal changes can cause breast tenderness or sensitivity.
  • Nausea: Nausea or mild gastrointestinal discomfort may occur in some individuals.
  • Injection site reactions: Redness, swelling, or bruising at the injection site are possible side effects of subcutaneous injections.

 

Each individual may experience side effects differently, so it’s essential to communicate any concerns with the team.

Risks:

It’s essential to recognize the potential psychological impact of an egg donation cycle being canceled due to factors such as poor or no response to medication. Such occurrences can evoke feelings of disappointment, frustration, and uncertainty or may trigger emotions of failure or inadequacy.

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) is a rare complication of ovarian stimulation, where the ovaries respond excessively to these medications and become swollen and painful. In mild cases, it causes discomfort, bloating, and nausea. However, in severe cases, it can lead to fluid buildup in the abdomen, resulting in significant discomfort and requiring hospitalization.

By combining careful monitoring, frequent scans, frequent blood draws, and the use of safe and low medication dosages, healthcare providers can reduce the risk of OHSS and ensure the safety of individuals undergoing ovarian stimulation.

A rare but serious complication that can arise during ovarian stimulation or following egg retrieval is ovarian torsion. This occurs when the ovary becomes enlarged and twists around its blood supply, resulting in sudden and severe pain. Ovarian torsion is a medical emergency and requires prompt treatment.

Despite careful screening and monitoring, there may be unknown risks associated with ovarian stimulation and egg donation.

Trigger

35.5 hours

This is when you start follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) medication to grow and mature the follicles.

What to expect:

You’ll receive precise instructions to administer your trigger shot at a specific time determined by the clinic. Your coordinator will capture a picture as a timestamp for the clinic’s records. Now, let’s delve into what the trigger shot is:

Gonadotropin-releasing Hormone Agonist (GnRH Agonist or “Trigger Shot”)
Brand names: Decapeptyl®, Lupron®
Purpose: Induces a natural-like ovulation surge.

An LH test (blood or urine) to ensure the trigger has worked
@emeralddonors Join an Emerald egg donor for her ovulation / LH kit test to confirm the trigger shot worked! Note: some clinics do a blood test instead or both. #eggdonor #dayinmylife #eggdonationjourney #eggdonation #eggretrieval #lhtest #luteinizinghormone #triggershot #ivfjourney #ivfgotthis #eggdonorprocess #fyp ♬ original sound – Emerald Donors

You’ll receive instructions to refrain from eating or drinking anything, including water, for a certain period before the scheduled retrieval. This fasting period usually starts around midnight the night before your egg retrieval. However, specific fasting instructions may vary depending on the protocols of the clinic.

Retrieval & Recovery

24 hours

Retrieval day, the culmination of all the planning, screening, and excitement! Today, you’ll be under the careful care of our nursing and medical teams, alongside your dedicated coordinator.

@emeralddonors Join an egg donor for her egg retrieval day! Note: each clinic is unique and has its own procedures and standards, this gives you an idea of what to anticipate. #eggdonor #dayinmylife #dayinthelife #eggdonationjourney #eggdonation #eggretrieval #eggdonoragency #ivf #ivfjourney #ivfgotthis #eggdonationsouthafrica #eggdonationprocess #womenshealth #traveltiktok #fyp ♬ Aesthetic – Tollan Kim

What to expect:

You’ll be asked to arrive at the clinic one hour before your scheduled retrieval time, and your coordinator will ensure you get there smoothly. The caring nursing team will ensure your smooth check-in process. Expect introductions from the medical team as they confirm your identity and any health-related information. And remember, your dedicated coordinator will be right there, providing unwavering support at every turn.

Once you’re in the operating room, you’ll be gently put to sleep. This is done using twilight sedation, also known as conscious sedation, which is a type of anesthesia commonly used during medical procedures such as egg retrieval for egg donation. With twilight sedation, you’ll be comfortably asleep throughout the procedure, but still able to breathe on your own. One of the key benefits of twilight sedation is its tendency to allow for a quicker recovery compared to general anesthesia. Additionally, you’ll experience less grogginess and nausea afterward.

As you rest comfortably under sedation, a thin, hollow needle is gently inserted through the vaginal wall, guided by ultrasound, to access the ovaries. This technique ensures a minimally invasive approach, with no need for cutting. Once the needle is in place, gentle suction is used to aspirate the eggs from the follicles within the ovaries. The entire procedure typically takes around 20 minutes.

After the egg retrieval, you’ll spend about 40-90 minutes in the recovery area, where you’ll be carefully monitored. Before being discharged to the care of your supportive coordinator, the clinic will provide thorough post-retrieval care instructions, including guidance on pain management. Once cleared, your coordinator will accompany you back to your accommodation, where you can rest and recuperate for the remainder of the day. Throughout, your coordinator will be readily available to assist you. By the next day, you should be up and about.

You might experience bloating, spotting, or mild cramping—similar to period cramps. Typically, these symptoms ease within a few days.

You’ll have a follow-up appointment with the clinic, which includes a scan to check your recovery progress.

Risks:

Egg retrieval is generally a safe procedure, but like any medical intervention, it carries rare risks of complications:

  • Bleeding or Infection: While rare, there is a risk of bleeding or infection at the site of needle insertion during egg retrieval. This can cause pain, swelling, and fever.
  • Damage to Surrounding Organs: During the retrieval process, there is a slight risk of injury to nearby organs such as the bladder or blood vessels. This risk is very low but is important to note.
  • Reaction to Anesthesia: Some individuals may experience side effects or allergic reactions to the anesthesia used during the procedure. This can include nausea, vomiting, or difficulty breathing.

 

Before undergoing the egg retrieval, you’ll have an informed consent meeting where you’ll receive detailed information about the procedure, including potential risks. You’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions and ensure you feel fully informed and comfortable moving forward. Your safety and well-being are our top priorities throughout the process.

It’s important to recognize that there may be additional, currently unidentified risks associated with egg donation. As with any evolving medical field, ongoing research and monitoring are underway to identify and address any potential risks that may arise. Your safety and well-being are our top priorities, and we remain committed to ensuring that you receive the highest standard of care throughout the donation process.

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