Who can donate eggs?
Egg donors are healthy women between the ages of 21 and 28. To be a donor for our program, you must live locally in the Bellingham Area. If you are a known private donor, we can make arrangements to coordinate testing in other areas. Potential egg donors can be:
- Anonymous Donors – Many women opt to undergo the egg donation process as anonymous donors. These women donate eggs to an infertile woman or couple who also remain anonymous.
- Known Donors – Sisters, friends, or other women close to a recipient may donate eggs. Some women who need eggs may search for unrelated donors on their own.
Egg donation carries the same risks as in vitro fertilization (IVF) through the egg retrieval stage. In addition, you should abstain from intercourse within a week on either side of the time that eggs are retrieved because it is possible that you could get pregnant. These medicines and procedures are unlikely to affect your future fertility, and it is rare that they would cause any major harm to your health. Very rarely a donor could develop an infection or have bleeding after the egg retrieval process.
Steps to becoming an Egg Donor
When you have decided to become an egg donor, contact our coordinator to obtain an application to the program. Once your application has been received, the Donor Coordinator will review it and contact you to schedule a screening interview.
Pre-Cycle Screening Requirements
1. Interview with Donor Coordinator / Genetic Counselor
- Discuss procedures, medication, lab testing, and time commitment involved in an egg donation cycle
- Discussion of anonymous vs. non-anonymous decision (program donors only)
- Review of family history to assess any potential risk for genetic conditions (additional genetic testing may be recommended, as appropriate)
- Review egg donor program guidelines
2. Interview with a doctor
- Discuss the procedure, medication, and risks
- Medical history and physical examination
- Ultrasound and vaginal cultures
3. Lab screening
For private donors, all tests (except blood type and RH) must done within 6 months of starting the cycle. Program donors must repeat tests marked with a * every six months.
- Day 3 blood test for estradiol and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)
- GC cultures
- Chlamydia cultures
- Blood type & RH factor
- Hepatitis B Sag*
- Hepatitis C Antibody*
- HIV 1 & 2*
- HTLV-1 & 2*
- Cystic fibrosis
- Genetic testing, as appropriate
3. Psychological evaluation
You will meet with a psychologist who has experience counseling egg donors and infertility patients. Our psychologist will talk to you about some of the psychological issues that donating eggs may raise.
Egg Donation Cycle Process
We use ultrasound (which uses sound waves, not X-rays) and blood tests to monitor the development of eggs on your ovaries. To perform an ultrasound, a small probe is placed inside the vagina to look at your ovaries. The process takes a few minutes and is not painful. The blood tests measure your estrogen level, which is another way to determine the progress of your ovaries.
2. Donation Cycle Ovary Stimulation
- Down regulation – To prevent the release (ovulation) of eggs you will produce, we begin the egg donation cycle synarel, a hormone that will suppress your ovaries. Approximately seven days later, you will begin your period.
- Day 2 Visit and Hormone Injections – On the second day of your period, you will return to the office for another ultrasound examination. After the examination, you will start taking hormone medications (Gonal-F, Follistim) to stimulate your ovaries to produce many eggs. These medications are injected with a tiny needle into the lower abdomen or thigh. They may cause cysts on your ovaries or a swelling of your abdomen. But this is temporary and will go away quickly after your cycle.
- Dose adjustment – After four or five days of hormone injections, you return to the office for an ultrasound and blood test. This test helps us find out whether to change your dose of the medicine to get an acceptable number of eggs. Continue the hormone injections as instructed by Dr. Branigan or Cheryl, who will schedule your next appointment for a few days later.
- Egg development – At your next appointment, you will have another ultrasound and blood test. You will return daily for two or three more days, until you have mature eggs on your ovaries. Continue the daily hormone injections until your doctor determines that your eggs are ready.
- Mature eggs – When the ultrasound and blood testing suggest that you have mature eggs on your ovaries, you will receive another injection called human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG). The hCG must be injected within a few minutes of the instructed time.
3. Egg Retrieval and Follow-up
Dr. Branigan will remove your mature eggs just before the ovary can release them. This procedure takes place in our center; in the operating room. You will receive medication through a vein to make you very sleepy and to prevent discomfort. The eggs are retrieved through the vagina, so there will be no cut or incision on your abdomen.
The procedure takes about a half hour, and you will remain in the procedure room for another hour. After that, someone can drive you home. Full recovery should take one or two days. Return for a follow-up visit with your doctor approximately four weeks after the procedure.
Donor Medical Questionnaire Form