When you read that up to 12% of women are infertile, and think of same-sex couples who long for a baby of their own but can’t have one themselves, you wonder if you’re ready to donate your eggs to make their dreams come true.
But egg donation isn’t as simple and fast as sperm donation. If you’re thinking about becoming an egg donor, you should understand all of the steps involved so that you can make an informed choice.
At Columbia Fertility Associates — a premier fertility clinic with convenient locations in Washington, DC, Bethesda, Maryland, and Arlington, Virginia — we take the time to help you understand the donation process. We also have many loving, infertile couples who’d be honored to bring a new life into the world with your help.
Following is a simple guide to the egg donation process, to help you decide if this is the type of gift you’d like to give.
1. Take a brief quiz
You need to be healthy, have healthy lifestyle habits, and meet age requirements if you want to donate eggs. For instance, you must be at least 19 years old and younger than 32. The age requirement exists to ensure that your egg production and egg quality are at their peak.
Schedule about 15 minutes to take our brief, 40-question, online quiz. You enter information on your general health and lifestyle, but you don’t need to refer to or provide any official records. If you meet the requirements, we contact you directly based on the contact information you provide, and you move onto the next stage of the process.
2. Come to our office for testing
If you’re accepted as a possible egg donor, we’ll schedule an appointment for you at our nearest location. During your evaluation, our OB/GYN administers a series of tests and evaluations to ensure that you’re physically healthy and psychologically capable of going through with the donation process. Some tests could include:
- Physical examination
- Tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
- Tests for other infectious diseases
- Psychological evaluation
- Genetic screening
- Fertility evaluation
- Full blood panel
- Personal and family history
The expense of the tests and evaluations are all covered by Columbia Fertility Associates. You also fill out a profile listing key physical characteristics that our couples use when choosing the right donor for them.
3. Sign a contract
Once you pass the physical and psychological evaluation and are chosen by a recipient, both you and the couple who will receive your eggs sign contracts laying out the terms of your donation. You won’t see their signatures, and they won’t see yours, as the entire process is anonymous.
When you sign the contract, you agree that the child who’s born from your eggs belongs to and is the responsibility of the couple or individual to whom you’re donating. You don’t have any legal rights to the child.
4. All of your donation-related medical expenses are covered
In addition to the screening exams, your expenses during egg stimulation and retrieval are also covered. This includes the cost of the hormones you and your doctors inject during your egg-retrieval cycle.
5. Self-administer hormones
Normally, your ovaries only release one egg per menstrual cycle. To increase the chances for the recipient conceiving a baby, we give you hormones that:
- Stabilize your menstrual cycle
- Synchronize your cycle to the recipient’s cycle
- Stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs
You may need to inject yourself daily during the various phases of your cycle. During this time, you refrain from having sex, so that you don’t accidentally fertilize your eggs.
You also need to come into the office several times so we can monitor the progress of your egg development. You may have mood swings or bloating due to the extra hormones.
The egg-producing process takes about two weeks, with the entire process lasting about four weeks total. When your eggs are ready, we administer an injection that makes you ovulate so that your eggs can be retrieved.
6. Undergo a simple egg-retrieval process
Your doctor removes ripe eggs from your ovaries during a simple procedure that’s performed in the comfort and privacy of the Columbia Fertility Associates office. You receive light sedation so that you don’t feel any pain, but you’re not completely asleep.
The doctor removes the eggs by inserting a special ultrasound-guided suctioning needle into your vagina, up through your uterus and into your ovaries. The procedure takes less than one hour. However, you need to stay at the office for another 1-2 hours to recover, and have someone drive you home.
We give you antibiotics to take over the next several days. You also return to the office in a week for a checkup and ultrasound exam to be sure that you’re healthy and recovering well. You may be a little uncomfortable in the days following your egg retrieval.
7. Get paid
Once your eggs have been retrieved, you get paid for the donation process. At Columbia Fertility Associates, you receive $8000 for donating your eggs. You can donate more than once, but no more than six times total.
To donate your eggs, start your quiz today. If you’ve already donated to Columbia Fertility Associates and want to schedule another egg donation, call your nearest office or reach out with the online form.