Thursday, March 6, 2008

Egg Donor Information for those Thinking About Donating Eggs

FAQ for Egg Donors by

What is egg donation?
Egg donation is the process by which one woman (an egg donor) donates her extra ova, or eggs, so that an infertile couple may have a child. This does not involve the actual removal or donation of the ovaries; it simply means that doctors will extract extra egg cells from the woman's ovaries. She will have more than plenty of eggs left over for the rest of her life to create her own family.

How many eggs does a woman have?
The ovaries are magnificent glands which are part of the female reproductive system. The ovaries are about the size and shape of an almond and sit just above the fallopian tubes -- one ovary on each side of the uterus. Every month during ovulation, either the right or left ovary produces a single mature egg for fertilization.

When a baby girl is born, she already has about 1,000,000 ovarian follicles. Each ovarian follicle contains a hollow ball of cells with an immature egg in the center. During childhood, approximately half of ovarian follicles are absorbed by the body. By the time a girl reached puberty and her menstrual cycle begins, about 400,000 ovarian follicles are left to develop into mature eggs.

What does the egg donation involve?
To begin with, you will be injected with a drug that will inhibit your natural menstrual cycles. The doctor will use this to synchronize your menstrual cycle with that of the recipient. Once the cycles are in synch, you will begin injections of a drug which will stimulate your ovaries to make extra eggs. This typically lasts 4-7 days. Your ovaries will be examined using ultrasound, and blood tests will be given to check your hormone levels.

Once your ovarian follicles (that produce eggs) have matured, you will receive one more injection (human chorionic gonadotrophin). A few days later, the doctor will extract eggs from your ovaries (usually using a syringe-like instrument) while you are sedated. The average cycle for this process, from the initial injection to the actual withdrawal of the eggs, is about 3 to 5 weeks depending on where you are in your menstrual cycle when you start.

How many eggs will the doctor extract?
It depends how well the woman responds to the follicle stimulation drugs. Good numbers from healthy responsive women would range between 12-18 eggs. Remember, she has hundreds of thousands of ovarian follicles left to make eggs. The fertility doctor will then fertilize these eggs to make embryos. Only a percentage of these extracted eggs will fertilize optimally and then be implanted in the woman's uterus with the hopes to become the future child or children.

Are there any risks?
With any medical procedure or the use of medicinal drugs there is always a risk your body might respond differently than average donors. Typically fertility doctors see very few problems and donors often experience no problems either and go on to do it again and again. You must use your own judgment and know your body.

What is required of the egg donors at Fertility Bridges?
We aim to work with egg donors that are 21-28 years old with some college education. They should be in an excellent health and have no history of health problems that need recurring treatment. They should be non-smokers, drink rarely, and not be at a very stressful times of their lives because they may not respond well to the egg stimulation.

Ideally egg donor candidate should be able to exhibit a high level of intelligence, whether it is from an IQ test, an SAT score or college grades.

Most Intended Parents understand that intelligence is measured in many ways and not just by quantitative analysis. Therefore, emotional intelligence, as well as what we might call artistic and physical intelligence that comes from high achievement in the arts or sports are also considered.

Do egg donors need to have health insurance?
Having health insurance shows a desired level of responsibility from an egg donor and will protect her in the event she has any medical problems that could result from the treatment.

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