Becoming an egg donor is a wonderful way to help someone else start their own family. Your eggs are precious, and there are many people out there who cannot produce their own.

Of course, it’s important to fully understand what the egg donation process involves. It’s not simply a matter of a few clinic appointments: it’s a commitment. The journey takes many weeks and several medical procedures.

If you’re up for that, then great! But you might still have a few questions.

One of the big questions that prospective egg donors often ask is whether they will still be able to get pregnant later on. After all, aren’t you giving up your egg supply?

Fortunately, you have nothing to worry about!

How the egg donation process works

Let’s explain how the egg donation process works. It’s actually very similar to a normal menstrual cycle in terms of how many eggs you lose.

The amazing thing about the female body is that it actually begins producing eggs while still in the womb. That’s right: at just 20 weeks, a female fetus has a fully developed reproductive system with six to seven million eggs.

By puberty, a woman will have about 300,000 – 400,000 eggs in her body. That sounds like a lot, but only about 400 of these eggs will be released over her lifetime.

About 10-20 eggs mature during each menstrual cycle, and only one is released during ovulation. This egg acts like “the chosen one” and tells the rest of the eggs to stop growing because they’re not needed. During a normal menstrual cycle, these eggs will simply be reabsorbed by the body.

However, when a woman goes through the egg donation process, she will receive hormone injections to allow all of those monthly eggs to mature at the same time. So, instead of just one egg being ovulated, every egg released will mature.

The eggs are then retrieved when a doctor inserts an ultrasound-guided needle into each mature follicle.

Long story short: the egg donor doesn’t lose any more eggs than she would have had to begin with. Technically, you have thousands of “spare” eggs, and the retrieval process only takes around 12 – 25 eggs.

An egg donor can go through a maximum of six donation cycles. Even undergoing this many retrievals will not affect your future fertility or menstruation cycle.

What about the fertility medications?

Another concern that egg donors have is whether the fertility medications will affect her hormones in the future. Again, there is no cause for concern.

Fertility procedures have advanced significantly in the last few decades, and doctors have worked to improve the safety of the procedure and decrease the potential risks.

Studies have shown that fertility medications do not have long-term effects on a woman’s fertility. They are simply designed to boost the levels of hormones in your body while you’re taking them. When you stop, they quickly leave your body, and things return to normal within a few months. This may mean your menstrual cycle takes a little while to get back to normal, but this is usually just minor.

Are there any risks?

As with any medical procedure, all measures are taken to ensure that the egg donation process is very safe. Of course, there are always some risks. In rare cases, the ovaries may become enlarged with fluid due to the fertility medication, which can lead to a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Symptoms include abdominal pain and bloating, like a bad case of PMS. This can be treated by delaying ovulation, and in most cases, it will resolve on its own without affecting your future fertility.

One of the most important things to remember during your donation cycle is to avoid vigorous exercise. This includes running, yoga, or any other activity that involves jolting or twisting your abdomen.

The good news is that thousands of women donate eggs every year without any complications!

Another ‘risk’ to be aware of is that it is very easy to get pregnant during the donation cycle. While taking fertility drugs, you will have to stop all birth control. You will also have to commit to abstaining from intercourse during the egg donation process. It’s very important to avoid intercourse from the time you start the hormone medication until at least three weeks after the retrieval. It’s possible to become pregnant if some of your eggs are released early or if any eggs are “missed” during the retrieval. Avoiding intercourse will ensure the cycle goes as planned.

How to protect your future fertility

Whether you’re a donor or not, there are lots of ways to look after your fertility and optimize your chances of having more children. It’s all a matter of eating a healthy diet, keeping fit, and avoiding stress where possible.

Be sure to nourish your body with plenty of protein and healthy fats, as these are vital for healthy reproduction. Choose foods that are rich in antioxidants, such as brightly-colored fruits and vegetables. Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are packed with natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which have been shown to boost fertility for both sexes. They’re also high in vitamin C and folic acid, which are vital for healthy fetal growth after conception. Vitamin D is also linked to successful fertility, so add plenty of oily fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna to your diet.

Many women who want to donate eggs still have plans for having more children, and there is no reason that the donation process will prevent them from doing this. It may even be a good story to tell your future offspring!

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.