9 Things We Learned From National Infertility Week
Every year, many men and women struggle with infertility. This past month we were once again made aware during National Infertility Week.
Egg donation is a complicated process. But it’s a process that can bring immense joy into your world when the entire journey is complete.
During National Infertility Week every year, we experience a heightened awareness of the struggles that couples experience when they are unable to conceive naturally. However, the struggle goes on year round for thousands of couples. If you are reading this, chances are no doubt you have explored every possible option to solve infertility. It’s been a frustrating process and has not yielded your desired results. However, you may have found an option that can change everything.
We know that 1 in 8 couples struggle to build a family. The CDC tells us that is 15% of couples in America. Infertility does not discriminate based on race, religion, sexuality or economic status. Now it’s time to look at egg donation as your ultimate solution.
There is much to learn, and the right agency like ours can walk through the process so that you are not alone. Here are 9 facts about egg donation that you should know before you start the process.
1. Fresh Egg Donation vs. Donor Egg Banks
Deciding whether to use a fresh egg donation or a stored egg bank is a huge decision that should not be taken likely.
Of the two, fresh donation allows you to choose a specific woman who you’d like to be the donor. The main disadvantage to this is that the cost can be prohibitively high. However, the advantages are many. The success of a fresh egg donation is very high. On average, there is about a 56% chance of achieving a live birth, although some clinics report up to an 80% success rate.
In addition, choosing fresh egg donation allows you to build your family with the same genetics. Most fresh donors are willing and able to donate multiple eggs for fertilization.
Cryogenically frozen egg banks are a much more affordable option over fresh egg donations and removes the risk of a potential donor canceling or becoming ineligible and you losing your investment. With an egg bank, the frozen eggs you buy have a pre-set number of oocytes.
However, the success rate using donor banks is typically much lower than with fresh eggs. You may have to do some traveling to find the best clinic with the highest success rate.
2. Who is the Typical Egg Donor?
In general, you can expect an egg donor to be between 21 – 34 years of age. Women in this age bracket respond better to fertility drugs and produce a higher number and quality of egg. This helps increase the possibility of pregnancy and reduces the risk of birth defects.
Most of the time, a clinic will require that a donor has already given birth and can provide a full account of a healthy family history. Of course, women who have STD’s or drug addictions are not allowed to become egg donors.
3. How is the Donor Screened?
The United States FDA helps clinics screen donors based upon guidelines they have created.
The screening process is quite rigorous and includes a wide array of blood tests, drug screenings, ultrasounds, psychological screenings and tests for infectious diseases.
Only the best of the best get approved. The process starts with a pre-questionnaire and gets more detailed as it moves forward.
4. Psychological Screening Details
Not only will the egg donor undergo a full psychological screening, but you will too.
This process can be very emotional for the donor and recipient. Many emotions can come out that are unexpected when the process begins.
Expect that the donor is psychologically prepared for the process and that you are too.
5. How the Process Works
When a donor is selected, they will begin a rigorous process of medications designed to stop their regular menstrual cycle and sync it with yours. Donors typically administer these medications on their own through a series of injections. They are instructed to abstain from intercourse (or use condoms) to avoid the potential of pregnancy.
During the process, egg donors must have blood tests and ultrasounds on a regular basis to ensure the medications are working properly.
6. Egg Extraction
The egg extraction procedure lasts about a half hour. During the procedure (referred to as a transvaginal ovarian aspiration), a very small needle is used to remove the eggs from each of the follicles. This is a very delicate procedure and many times the donor is given a sedative while it occurs.
However, this is typically not something that requires the donor to stay in the clinic or hospital overnight.
7. After the Donation
How a donor reacts to egg donation varies widely.
Both on a physical and emotional level, egg donation can be very unpredictable. Some donors get back to their regular activities the very next day, while others take many days to physically recover from the process.
Emotionally, some donors report an unexpected reaction after completing the donation process. Many clinics provide counselors and therapists to work with these woman in such circumstances.
8. Side Effects and Risks the Egg Donor May Experience
While donors do take on some risks when they decided to give their eggs, these risks are relatively low.
If an anesthetic is given during the process of egg retrieval, this can pose a minor threat. However, complications are not very common.
When the needle is inserted into the donor’s ovary, some bleeding might occur. This can, on occasion, cause damage to nearby blood vessels, the bowel or bladder. But such cases are very rare. Infections have been known to happen after the donation process. These can be resolved with antibiotics.
The most common side effect is OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome). This occurs when a lot of eggs develop in the ovaries due to the fertility medications the donor has taken.
A woman suffering from OHSS will experience severe stomach pain and vomiting, and will typically have rapid weight gain. She may even have difficulty breathing.
In all cases of OHSS, a doctor needs to be consulted immediately.
9. The Legalities
In the U.S., an egg donor has the right to donate anonymously or provide full disclosure of her identity. Most donor recipients, however, want to know the identity of their donor.
Every donor must sign a contract with the clinic stating that they have no legal rights to any child from a pregnancy stemming from their donation. The recipient of the egg will be legally recorded as the birth mother at the completion of a successful pregnancy.
Egg donation is a wonderful way to beat the problems of infertility and start the family you’ve been dreaming of having.
Your future grandchildren will thank you.