On the 2nd or 3rd day of your period, you will visit the clinic and have an ultrasound and blood tests. If everything looks normal you will start birth control pills. The purpose of the pills is to prevent you from ovulating and to help schedule your egg donation cycle. If you are already taking birth control pills, you will be instructed which day to restart the pills. Pills are typically prescribed for 2-3 weeks.
Near the end of your birth control pill prescription, you will come back to the clinic and have another ultrasound and more blood tests to be sure the pills worked properly and that all of your egg follicles are the same size.
Approximately 4 days after your last birth control pill, you will start taking daily injections of a fertility hormone called FSH. Women normally make only enough FSH to cause one egg follicle to grow and ovulate per month, despite there being many available egg follicles. The egg follicles that do not grow will ultimately die. By giving extra FSH in the form of an injection, we are able to recruit multiple egg follicles to grow. The egg follicles that grow are the ones that would otherwise die; therefore donors do not lose additional eggs through the process of egg donation.
You will need to come to the clinic 4-5 times over a 10-12 day period while you are taking the FSH injections for ultrasound and blood tests. These are being done to assure you are on the right dose of FSH, that your egg follicles are growing and that your side effects are minimal.
The final step is performed in the operating room. You will receive medicine through your veins for sedation. A needle will be passed through the vagina into the ovaries and used to suction the eggs from the egg follicles. You will not feel any pain. The procedure takes 15 minutes. After a 1 hour rest in the recovery room you will be discharged home. One to 2 weeks later you will have a period.
Egg donation is very safe with over 20,000 cycles being performed in the United States annually. The medical team at Santa Monica Fertility has a tremendous amount of experience having cared for 100’s of egg donors.
The process of egg donation does not lower the number of future egg follicles. Rather, only eggs that are destined to die the same month are stimulated to grow and retrieved. Egg donation has not been associated with any adverse infertility or cancer risk.
Most donors will experience some degree of tiredness and bloating during the FSH injections. Other symptoms such as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, a condition characterized by the accumulation of fluid in your abdomen, is now very uncommon with the use of newer treatment protocols.
Donors can continue with their normal activity, but must be cautious about sexual activity, alcohol intake and certain forms of exercise such as extreme sports, kick-boxing and inversions. These precautions will be reviewed by the medical team when you begin the egg donation process.
Donors cannot donate for six months if they have traveled, or had sexual contact with someone who has traveled to an area where the mosquito-borne ZIKA virus is active. Currently prohibited areas include Mexico, South America and parts of the Caribbean.