FAQ?

Egg Donors

How will donating eggs affect my ability to have my own children?

Egg donation has not been found to affect the ability for donors to produce eggs for themselves when they are ready to start their own families.  Barring any health changes to the donating female, eggs will produce normally each month as they had prior to beginning the hormone stimulating process.

How soon after I apply as an egg donor will I be selected?

Our egg donor information is entered into a profile database to be viewed by our couples.  It is difficult to determine when and/or if a donor will be selected.  Couples will determine which specific requirements they are looking for in a donor.  It is quite conceivable that some donors are not selected at all from our database profiles.

Will the couple attempt to reach out to me?

Because we have an anonymity policy, egg donor’s names and personal information are undisclosed.  Instead, we assign an identification number to give the couples an opportunity to view the donor’s family medical history, current health, educational background, traits, etc.  We do ask for childhood pictures and other images to help the couples see the physical traits they may need to make a determination on which donor to use.

Is the egg retrieval process painful?

The egg retrieval process is done through transvaginal ultrasound aspiration with a small needle under anesthesia that simply puts you to “sleep” during the process.  Experienced donors have indicated that there is some discomfort after the procedure that feels similar to premenstrual cramping, but no significant pain.  Each individual’s experience will be different.

May I resume my regular physical activities right away?

We recommend that our donors refrain from strenuous physical activity for several days to fully recover from both the anesthesia and the procedure.  In addition, we advise our donors to not engage in unprotected sexual intercourse during the process of the hormone medication treatment and for at least 30 days after the retrieval because of the increased risk of pregnancy due to the hormonally stimulated ovaries. The donor may resume sexual intercourse after she has her period following the egg retrieval.  Of course, she will need to use a form of birth control.

If I’m on birth control, will I have to stop in order to donate?

When a donor has been selected, and is ready to begin hormone testing, we do require that all birth control methods be discontinued.  This will ensure accurate hormone level testing that is necessary for the treatment plan.  Donors will remain off their birth control during the ovarian stimulation phase through the egg retrieval phase.  Only after they have completed their treatment and have had a menstrual cycle again will they be able to resume their birth control. There will be times that the donor’s hormonal birth control will be discontinued, occasionally it’s done for hormone testing.  Oral birth control pills are often used as part of the medical protocol.  Once the ovarian stimulation medication is started, the birth control pills are discontinued.  The donor can resume her birth control with the menstrual period following egg retrieval.

How much will it cost for me to donate?

Donors are not required to pay for the donation process.  The Intended couple will cover the costs associated with the treatment and compensation.

What if I decide to apply with multiple donor agencies?

We understand that you may decide to apply at multiple donor agencies. We encourage egg donor candidates to consider working with one agency at a time to limit the possibility of being selected by multiple intended parents at one time. Our agency does require that our egg donor candidates sign an agreement to work exclusively with us once the application has been approved and the match period has started.

How long does the whole process take from beginning to end as a selected donor?

In most cases, the egg donor goes through a cycle first and the embryos are frozen.  The recipients (e.g. surrogate or maternal Intended Parent) receive frozen embryo transfers.  The process as a newly selected donor takes approximately 2-3 months from beginning to end.  This includes donor medical testing, psychological evaluation and completion of the legal contract.  The IVF cycle itself is approximately 2 weeks total.

What are potential side effects from the hormonal medication?

Similar to a monthly menstrual cycle, donors may feel bloated, cramping, pelvic discomfort, mood swings, and/or headaches. The symptoms subside as they normally do once the hormone levels stabilize. There is a small risk of ovarian hyperstimulation which occurs when the ovaries become enlarged and fluid is present in the abdominal cavity leading to pelvic pain, weight gain and/or bloating. Close monitoring of the donor by the medical team will ensure immediate hospitalization for treatment if needed.

How often may I donate?

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has established guidelines that allow for a maximum of six cycles for egg donors.

May I donate if I’ve had children of my own already?

If you meet the donor criteria established by OIC and meet the hormone levels that will yield positive egg production, you may donate.

What are some of the reasons to be an egg donor?

  • “I learned about egg donation from a friend who has done it before. She said it was a great way to help people, and I agree after I did it too.”
  • “I was looking for a way to save up funds for graduate school, and this was one way I could get some income, and help a couple at the same time. My son is everything to me, and I am glad I can help a couple get pregnant.”
  • “My friend had worked with them (Options in Conception) before and said they were really great. She highly recommended that I either be an egg donor or be a surrogate, since I’ve already had two kids.”
  • “Robin was like my favorite big sister since the moment I met her. She was always available to answer my questions, and she explained the whole process to me. I am happy to help others and help myself at the same time.
  • “I am a full-time student with too many bills to pay. I was going to pick up a part time job to help pay the bills, but could not find anything that would make me happy as well, until I learned about egg donation. It’s not the easiest process to go through, but they tried to accommodate my busy schedule and it worked out perfectly.

Intended Parents

What is egg donation?

Simply stated – egg donation is the retrieval of eggs from one female, usually an egg donor; harvested as embryos, to be implanted into the uterus of the intended mother.

Who benefits from egg donations?

Women that have been unsuccessful in using their own eggs in achieving pregnancy due to any number of conditions are one group that may benefit from egg donation.

  • Unexplained infertility
  • Perimenopause
  • Lack of, damaged or removed ovaries
  • Genetic disorders that may be transferred to offspring
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Premature ovarian failure

What happens if we fail at our first donor cycle?

Our egg donors undergo a protocol of medication treatment designed to generate the most number of eggs possible in a cycle. At egg retrieval, our goal is to remove the highest quantity of eggs possible from the egg donor. Following the aspiration of the eggs, they are fertilized with the sperm and placed in incubators to be closely monitored for growth. Any embryos that are not used in the first cycle implant may be frozen for future use. If the first cycle is not successful, there will be other opportunities to utilize the frozen embryos at another cycle.

Others that may benefit from egg donations are same sex male couples that would like to start a family. Egg donation for male couples involves the added layer of finding a female surrogate for the donated eggs. The couple may decide to seek the help of a family friend or relative to either donate the eggs and/or act as the surrogate for the eggs. Another option would be to seek the assistant of an anonymous egg donor to minimize the personal involvement of friends or family.  This option would reduce any emotional attachment on the part of the relative or friend, allowing for a less stressful experience for the couple.

How do we find an egg donor?

The egg donation process begins with locating a reputable egg donation organization such as Options in Conception (OIC). It is not uncommon for fertility centers to branch into egg donation as an adjunct to their services. When the efforts are joined, a bond is created between the fertility team and the couple that fosters a common goal for successful conception. Egg donation agencies, whether affiliated with a fertility center or not, may be the first or second stop in seeking a viable candidate for eggs. Some couples may opt to use a family member or close friend as a candidate. Either way, there are many things to consider before beginning the journey into egg donation.

Will we be able to tolerate not having our own biological child?

Couples faced with alternatives to having a family often find themselves conflicted with the options.  With egg donation, the retrieved eggs from the donor are fertilized by the intended father’s sperm.  Genetically, the embryo will be partly biological to the intended parents through the father.  Although there is no direct genetic material transferred from the intended mother, she will have the opportunity to experience the pregnancy and begin the bonding process with the life that she has had an opportunity to nurture and grow in her body.  There are a great number of women that have had reservations about carrying an egg donated baby that experience the immense joy and happiness of seeing, feeling and loving the new life that they have had the opportunity to bring into the world as their own.

Do we want the donor to know who we are?

Couples that choose to utilize egg donor services are bound by the anonymity policies established by OIC.  If a couple decides to identify themselves to the donor, they must discuss the pros and cons of doing so with the consultants at OIC.  The egg donor may not be in agreement and may opt to remove herself from the selection process.  Each donor agency will have established guidelines for the protection of both donors and recipients.

How do I choose and what do I look for in an egg donor?

Egg donors will have a comprehensive profile of their health, education, family medical history, activities, physical traits, etc. on file with OIC.  Additionally, there will be an opportunity for intended parents to view pictures of the candidate at various ages in her lifetime.  Based on the criteria that the intended parents have for their ideal egg donor, they may identify 2-3 candidates that fit the requirements and choose which most meets what they are looking for in a donor.  Some couples may base their decision on the physical features of the candidate while others may be drawn to the family health history.  Each couple will be as unique in their selection process as there are unique candidates.

How do we know the egg donor will produce healthy eggs?

Options in Conception receives many applications for egg donors.  The age range for egg donors at OIC is between 19 and 30, traditionally considered the most fertile period in a woman’s life.  When we are reviewing applications for egg donors, we take into consideration her age, current health, past medical history, lifestyle, alcohol and drug use, education, living conditions, mental health, and many other factors that will allow us to screen for the healthiest candidates possible.  If an egg donor qualifies as a potential candidate, additional screening is done to determine her hormone levels, reproductive history, regularity of menstrual cycles, etc.  The results from the secondary screening will be used to determine if the donor will be able to produce healthy eggs.  Simply being in the age range does not guarantee the healthiest eggs.  Reviewing her full screening process results allows OIC to select the most promising list of candidates for our recipients.

Surrogates

How long does the process take?

While it is difficult to predict the length of the process, surrogates that apply and are accepted typically commit to a minimum of nine months to 18 months for the entire process to complete.  There may instances that may require additional time, such as in the case of an unsuccessful pregnancy or unforeseen situations with the surrogate or intended parents.

What happens if I am unable to become pregnant?

In the event that you are unable to become pregnant after the first round of treatment, there are safeguards in place to allow for multiple attempts to become pregnant.  The agreed upon number of embryos reserved for additional attempts is determined at the beginning of the contractual process.

Will I incur any out-of-pocket expenses if I am chosen as a surrogate?

No.  Any and all costs associated with the surrogacy program are covered by the intended parents and/or their insurance.  If there are circumstances where payment is required up-front for any stage of the process, e.g. maternity clothes, co-payments, medications – you will be reimbursed as soon as possible.

May I be a surrogate if I’ve never had children of my own?

No.  Because the intended parents are seeking someone that has had experience with pregnancy, you must have been able to carry, complete and deliver with little to no complications during your own pregnancy.

Are there any conditions under which I would not qualify as a surrogate?

Options in Conception has established guidelines for eligible candidates.  Please note that the guidelines have been created to ensure the physical, mental, emotional and financial health of the surrogate as an ideal candidate to carry the embryos for the intended parents.

If I am currently on birth control, can I still be a surrogate?

Yes.  If you are selected as a surrogate, a treatment program will be created to prepare your body for pregnancy.  You will have an opportunity to discontinue the use of any and all forms of birth control in order to be prepared for implantation of the embryo.

When do I receive my compensation as a surrogate?

Our surrogate compensation schedule is as follows:

  • $600 at start of injectable medication
  • $800 at embryo(s) transfer
  • $2500 per month after confirmation of fetal heartbeat(s)
  • Remainder due within 14 business days after delivery