Dr. Tourgeman, MD, FACOG is a Board Certified Reproductive Endocrinologist with HRC Fertility. In the video above, he gives a detailed overview of the medical process of egg donation.
What is Egg Donation?
Egg donation is the process by which a woman donates her eggs to another person for the purpose of assisted reproduction. Once the eggs are donated, the recipient can create embryos using their partner’s sperm, or sperm from a donor.
What tests do I need as an Egg Donor?
On the second, third, or fourth day of your menstrual cycle, you will go to the clinic for blood work to determine the levels of anti-müllerian hormone (AMH), estradiol, and follicle-stimulating hormone in your blood.
- Anti-müllerian hormone (AMH) is used to assess your ability to produce fertile eggs for pregnancy. During your childbearing years, your ovaries can produce thousands of eggs, but the number decreases with age. Your AMH levels will assist doctors in determining how many potential egg cells you still have. This is referred to as the ovarian reserve.
- High AMH levels indicate that you may have more eggs available and that you should respond better to treatment. Low AMH levels indicate that you may have fewer eggs available and that you may not respond well to treatment. Knowing your ovarian reserve allows them to determine the appropriate dose of medication to give you.
- FSH regulates the menstrual cycle and stimulates egg growth in the ovaries. FSH levels that are too high or too low can lead to a variety of issues, including infertility.
- An estradiol test measures the amount of the hormone estradiol in your blood. It is also called an E2 test. An estradiol test can indicate how well the ovaries are working.
You may also have an ultrasound to visualize your ovaries and uterus.
What medications do I have to take if I’m an Egg Donor?
Once doctors have surmised your ovarian reserve, they will gauge how much medication you will need to take to stimulate egg production. The medication given is something that is already produced by your body called follicle-stimulating hormone and the body understands it very well.
FSH is a protein, so it’s a lot like insulin in the fact that it can’t be taken orally because it’s a protein. If it’s taken orally, it becomes degraded. So egg donors have to self-administer the medications by injection just below the skin, which is called a subcutaneous injection.
The FSH is taken for somewhere between nine and 12 days. During that time, doctors are evaluating how the eggs within the follicles are growing. Once the eggs are fully developed, you’ll be scheduled for your retrieval.
How are the eggs retrieved?
Fortunately, the procedure is not difficult. The egg retrieval procedure is non-invasive, meaning without incision. You will receive an IV medication to sedate you and will feel no pain during the procedure. The retrieval is done through the vagina and eggs are extracted that way. Doctors use ultrasound with a small needle attached to it to puncture each one of the follicles within the ovary and extract each individual egg. The procedure only lasts about 15 minutes in most cases.
What happens after I donate my eggs?
Once the eggs are obtained they’re passed on to the awaiting embryological team who identifies the eggs and ultimately is able to join them with the sperm of choice and then grow those embryos in the laboratory.
You should find out within two weeks if your donation resulted in a pregnancy!
Interested in learning more? Click here to request more information about becoming an Egg Donor!