How Does Egg Donation Work
STEP 1. APPLICATION & ADMISSIONS
The first step is to contact us to speak with one of our staff and get your questions answered. We will also explain the differences between our frozen egg program and the Egg Donor Specialists fresh egg program. To enter either of these programs, you will need to fill out a detailed application and schedule a time to speak with one of our counselors. You will be asked to submit the following:
At least 3 current photos of you alone
At least 3 photos from birth to three years
At least 3 photos from elementary school age
At least 3 photos from middle school or high school
Verification of education (transcripts) if reporting education beyond high school
Verification of blood type
Remember that couples will be looking at your photos and you want to put your best foot forward! Please do not submit photos that are racy or suggestive or that have alcoholic beverages. The medical portion of your application is very important so please talk to your parents or other family members if you are unsure of your answer to any health history question, whether it relates to you or others in your family.
If you have been accepted into the program, the next step depends on whether you are in the fresh egg program or the frozen egg program. This depends partly on your preference but also on whether the frozen egg program has a need for a donor with your background and characteristics. Some of our donors are in both programs. Couples usually choose their donor based on similar physical characteristics, likes, interests and talents, or education of the prospective mother.
Fresh egg program: We will post your photos and a summary of your biography on our online donor database. To protect your privacy, you will be assigned a code name/number and your real name will not be published. For your further protection, couples must register with us and receive a passcode to access the database. Prospective parents will choose their donor based on the information in the database. Once you are selected by a couple, we will complete your psychological screening (administration of the Personality Assessment Inventory) and you will go to their doctor for a medical evaluation. After medical clearance, you will enter into an anonymous legal contract with the recipients. You will be provided an independent attorney (no cost to you) to represent you in entering into the contract.
Frozen egg program: Things move much faster if you are invited to enter the American Egg Bank frozen egg program. You will complete your psychological screening (administration of the Personality Assessment Inventory) and be sent to the doctor for your medical clearance soon after submitting your application. In this program there is no wait to be selected by a couple so you have no delays. Your eggs will be retrieved, frozen and stored until being selected by a couple. Same as in the fresh egg program, your identity will be protected through a code name/number and your real name will not be published. Couples have to register with AEB to gain access to the database. You are also compensated following each donation cycle, rather than having to wait to be matched with specific prospective parents.
STEP 3. MEDICAL TREATMENT
The process now switches to the doctor and medical treatment. In vitro fertilization (IVF) is a method of assisted reproduction in which eggs are retrieved from a woman’s ovaries and mixed with sperm in a laboratory dish. The fertilized eggs are cultivated in the laboratory for a few days and then transferred to the recipient’s uterus, with the hope that it will implant in the uterine lining and continue to develop.
Once you are matched with prospective parents, an average retrieval cycle requires from 5 to 7 doctor visits over a 6 to 8 week period. These visits can range from 30 minutes to 3 hours, depending on the reason for the visit and the doctor’s schedule on any particular day.
The IVF cycle will start on the first day of the menstrual period closest to your scheduled IVF treatment. Once your period begins, the doctor will usually prescribe oral contraceptives (birth control pills) to regulate your hormone levels and limit the development of cysts. The contraceptives are usually taken for two to four weeks. After stopping the birth control pill, some doctors will have you start daily subcutaneous injections (shots) of a medication to complete your pre-stimulation ovarian suppression. These injections typically last about two weeks. Other doctors will move you directly into the stimulation phase about 3 to 5 days after stopping the birth control pills.
During ovarian stimulation, you will begin taking one or more fertility medications to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs (typically 7 to 15) rather than the single egg that normally develops each month. Drug type and dosage will vary depending on the doctor and your response to the medications. These medications are usually administered by daily subcutaneous shots for 8 to 12 days. During your fertility injections, the doctor will monitor you by ultrasound scans to see the size and number of developing follicles and by blood tests to measure estrogen levels. Ovarian follicles are small fluid-filled sacks in the ovaries where the eggs grow. Each follicle typically holds one egg. You can expect 4 to 5 monitoring visits during this phase.
Once the ultrasound scans show that the follicles are large and almost mature, you will be given a trigger shot to stimulate the eggs maturation. Ovulation normally occurs about 40-48 hours after this injection, so egg retrieval will be scheduled to take place just before ovulation occurs (typically 34-36 hours). Egg retrieval is typically done using a fine, hollow needle guided by ultrasound. The retrieval is a mildly invasive procedure that is often done under light anesthesia. When mature follicles are found in the ovaries, the eggs are gently removed from the follicles through the needle by a suction device. You will not be able to return to work the day of your retrieval. And due to the anesthesia you cannot drive yourself home after the retrieval. The retrieval ends your donation cycle.