Egg donation can be a wonderful and rewarding process for many young women. However, the process requires a certain level of commitment. In general, you can expect it to take about 3-4 months from the time you are selected by a recipient.
The application and screening period prior to your selection can take a significant amount of time as well, depending on how long it takes to complete the initial medical, psychological, and background screenings.
We will walk you through the step-by-step process for donating your eggs so you can make an informed decision about how to proceed.
How Long Does The Egg Donation Process Take?
The egg donation process can take several months to complete.
It begins with an initial application. If you meet the general requirements, a longer screening and evaluation process will begin. Each of these will be discussed below; however, the goal for all of the initial screenings is to make sure you are medically and psychologically ready to become a donor.
Once you complete and pass the initial screenings required to qualify you as an egg donor, your profile will become available to potential recipients. From here, you may be selected quickly, or it may take a few months.
Once a recipient selects you and all parties decide to move forward, you can expect the egg donation process to last about 3-4 months. This will include a few visits for in-person medical screenings, exams, and procedures. In the 2-4 weeks leading up to the egg retrieval, you will take medications to help prepare your body.
Because of the time commitment and generosity involved, egg donors receive substantial compensation for their troubles. Average compensation can be between $8,000-$10,000.
Selecting The Donor and Matching With The Donee
After you are accepted as a qualified egg donor, your profile and pictures will become available to people who are looking for an egg donor.
There are many reasons why someone seeks out the help of an egg donor. LGBTQ+ individuals and couples, single men, and women who cannot use their own eggs for any number of reasons may all choose to work with an egg donor.
Your donor profile will include personal and family health history, height, weight, eye and hair color, level of education, blood type, ancestry, occupation and/or area of study, any past donation history and outcomes, and any personal interests you would like to share.
Most people are looking for a donor they can feel connected to in some way. The more personality you can show in your donor profile, the more likely you will be selected quickly. How long it takes to be selected can vary greatly depending on a variety of factors. Some donors are selected within a week while others may be waiting for a few months.
For the average intended parent, it takes about a month to find a good match. Of course, this can vary as well.
Psychological and Physical Screenings
All egg donors must pass initial psychological and physical screenings. This is to make sure the potential donor is aware of all risks and is healthy enough to complete the process. Once you have been selected, you will need to complete a more in-depth medical and psychological screening.
The goal of psychological screening is to determine if the potential donor understands and is fully aware of both the benefits and the risks of egg donation. The psychologist will also inquire about your motivations for becoming a donor as well as any significant personal or family mental health history. Often, this screening includes a PAI or MMPI (personality) assessment.
Physical screening includes a thorough pelvic exam to determine your ability to produce eggs. She may be asked to complete a vaginal ultrasound to allow the doctor to examine ovarian function and reserve more closely.
There are also several blood tests and medical screenings to check for blood type, drug use, infectious diseases, and general health status. Most donors are also screening for genetic conditions.
The amount of time it takes to complete these initial screenings depends on a variety of factors. You can expect this phase of the egg donation process to take about 1-2 months from the time you are selected.
Compatibility Check Through Similarity of Physical Characteristics
Though not a prerequisite, many intended parents choose donors who have similar physical characteristics to themselves. Aside from physical appearance, it may be wise to choose someone with the same blood type in case there is a future need for blood donations. Learn more: How Blood Type Can Affect Egg Donor Selection – PVED
Health history plays a significant role in most recipients’ selection of an egg donor. Someone with a family history of heart disease may not be the best choice if the recipient’s family also has significant heart disease history.
Ovarian Stimulation of The Donor
During a typical monthly menstrual cycle, a woman’s ovaries release one or two eggs. To increase the odds of a successful egg donation and subsequent embryo creation, an egg donor needs to go through a medical process to stimulate egg production.
Although it takes two to three months to fully prepare for an egg retrieval, donors spend most of that time going about their normal daily routines. A donor will spend a month or two taking oral contraceptives in order to regulate hormone levels so her cycle is predictable and easily monitored.
After that, the more “active” stage of the process begins.
Over a period of approximately 8-14 days, you will need to give yourself daily injections of a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and a luteinizing hormone (LH). These medications, along with GnRH (gonadotropin-releasing hormone), prompt your ovarian follicles to produce more eggs than normal while also preventing early release of the eggs.
Thirty-six hours before your egg retrieval, you will administer a “trigger shot” of hCG, human chorionic gonadotropin, which helps the eggs mature in time for retrieval.
During your period of active ovarian stimulation, you will need to visit the fertility clinic for blood draws and transvaginal ultrasounds. These procedures are done so the doctor can monitor how your medications are working and make any adjustments deemed necessary.
Endometrial Preparation of The Recipient
While you are preparing your body for egg retrieval, sometimes, the recipient you have matched with is also preparing her body for the future embryo transfer. She will be prescribed hormone medications to regulate her menstrual cycle.
These hormones will help to thicken and prepare the endometrium as well. Other times, your eggs would be retrieved and then frozen until the recipient is ready for transfer. The recipient can be the Intended Mother or even a Gestational Surrogate.
All of this preparation has been leading up to the egg retrieval day. The egg retrieval procedure itself only takes about 20 minutes. It is a simple, minimally invasive outpatient procedure. You will need to allow an hour before and at least an hour after for monitoring.
During the procedure, the doctor will insert a thin catheter with a needle attached to it. Then, using light suction, eggs will be drawn out from your ovarian follicles. You will be given an IV sedative before beginning, so you won’t feel anything at all.
After the retrieval is complete, you will spend about an hour in the recovery room as you wake up from the anesthesia. You will also find out how many eggs were retrieved.
You will need a friend or family member to drive you home, and it is recommended that you spend at least the next 24 hours resting.
After the egg retrieval, you may experience some cramping, abdominal discomfort, or light spotting. The clinic will give you instructions about more serious side effects to watch for. Although uncommon, some women experience Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome following egg donation. This requires medical attention to prevent further harm.
Once the eggs have been retrieved, they are transported to the clinic’s lab. There, an embryologist will examine them and prepare them for fertilization. Healthy and mature eggs are placed in a culture and incubated. The embryologist then combines sperm with the eggs to encourage fertilization.
Fertilization typically takes a few hours. Insemination can be done in a couple of different ways:
- Conventional insemination: egg and sperm are mixed in the same culture and incubated for a period of time
- Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI): a single sperm cell is injected directly into the mature egg.
After fertilization, the cells remain in the lab to hopefully develop into embryos.
The embryo culture process continues for approximately 2 to 5 days after fertilization. The clinic’s embryologist will monitor the development closely during this time.
Embryo Transfer To The Recipient
Embryo transfer occurs approximately 3 to 5 days after egg retrieval. During the transfer process, the embryo recipient undergoes a procedure very similar to the egg retrieval process. The recipient will be given a mild sedative. Then, the doctor will insert a thin catheter into her vagina, through the cervix, and into the uterus.
The end of the catheter holds a small syringe with at least one embryo inside. Once it is positioned correctly, the doctor places the embryo(s) into the uterus. Current industry guidelines strongly suggest only attempting to transfer one embryo at a time to prevent a multiple pregnancy. However, some women may choose to transfer more than one if their doctor agrees.
After the transfer, it takes about 6 to 10 days for the embryo to implant in the lining of the recipient’s uterus.
Following the procedure, recipients are encouraged to rest and relax, although most people feel able to return to normal activities within a day or so. Some side effects include light cramping, bloating, sore breasts, or light spotting.
Twelve to 14 days later, a pregnancy test can be taken to determine if the embryo has successfully implanted. This is the earliest a pregnancy can be detected using bloodwork.
Your Donated Eggs Would Be A Wonderful Gift To An Expectant Family
Egg donors are generous women who provide the literal gift of life to hopeful intended parents. If you are considering egg donation, our team would be happy to walk you through the process.
Are you thinking about blessing a family by donating your eggs? Talk to us at Family Inceptions.