The Egg Donor Program is not a medical facility, but we work with the top Reproductive Endocrinologists in the country who will carefully explain the medical procedures involved in egg donation. In the meantime, while you are considering the process, here is a brief explanation of an egg donor’s cycle:
Donors are expected to have 4-8 visits at the doctor’s office. These are usually early in the mornings and sometimes on the weekends. If a donor is traveling for the cycle or if the Reproductive Office is some distance from her home, she may make 2-3 of these visits at a nearby clinic.
After being chosen, a donor makes an initial screening visit to the doctor’s office. Her blood is drawn and tested for infections, sexually transmitted diseases, and some genetic disorders. An up to date PAP smear is also necessary, as well as a urine drug screen. The doctor will interview the donor and perform a vaginal ultrasound. Sometimes these visits occur on Day 3 of the menstrual cycle (the third day after bleeding begins).
A number of vaginal ultrasounds will be performed during the cycle. This painless insertion of a wand into the vagina produces an ultrasound image on a screen so the doctor may monitor the growth of the donor’s eggs on her ovaries. Blood draws to test hormone levels and vaginal ultrasounds occur frequently during the subsequent doctor’s visits.
Although there is some variation, to begin the donation cycle, donors take birth control pills for about 10 days, then lupron injections for about 10 days, which slows down the menstrual cycle. Finally, Gonal F, a fertility hormone, or another FHS (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), is given by injection for about 10 days. So for approximately 3 weeks, donors receive hormone injections given with a small needle, often in the thigh or belly. Donors usually give themselves the injections or have a friend assist since the shots are simple to administer.
Women are born with about 400,000 eggs and during each menstrual cycle the body recruits 30 or more eggs in order to mature one for possible fertilization. During a donation cycle, a door is given increased doses of this maturing hormone so that more of the eggs recruited that month will mature (typically 8-15). The eggs used for donation would pass out of the body that month and the process does not cause early menopause.
When the eggs are mature (after about 10 days of hormones), the donor returns for the egg retrieval which is usually done in the doctor’s office and takes about 20 minutes. She is put under light sedation, and the eggs are aspirated vaginally with a long needle so there is no scarring. Soon after the retrieval the donor may go home accompanied by a friend. She should take that day off work.
Our donors are informed about a month after the retrieval if a pregnancy occurred.