Not every woman is born with the ability to mature and release eggs. Some women are born without eggs at all while others suffer from diseases like Turner Syndrome and Gonadal Dysgenesis, which cause an absence of eggs. When no eggs are present, women may turn to egg donors to start a family. Egg donation is different from surrogacy. Egg donors donate eggs to be carried in the uterus of another.
Prescreening for Egg Donation
Before an egg donor is approved to donate eggs, they must go through a series of medical and mental evaluations. Medical evaluations include a pelvic exam, hormone level blood tests, and ultrasound of ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. A psychologist will also interview the applicant for mental preparedness for the donation process. After all, tests are concluded and the donor has been approved a legal contract is signed accepting money in exchange for eggs.
Understanding the Egg Donation Cycle
Egg donation cycles typically last between three and six weeks. During this time, menstrual cycles of the donor and recipient are regulated to produce a parallel window when eggs can be removed from the donor and implanted into the receiver with the best possible outcome. Egg donors are given birth control pills and follicle stimulating hormones to regulate the menstrual cycle and increased the number of matured eggs respectively. Donors must attend physician appointments during the medication phase for regular check-ups.
Once the fertility specialist believes the window of opportunity is perfect and follicles are mature, eggs are taken from the donor with a minimally invasive medical procedure under a mild anesthetic. Eggs are removed, fertilized, and implanted into the recipient and the egg donation is complete. Recovery time for the donor can be one to two days.
On the day eggs are retrieved, male sperm is collected from a spouse or donor. Eggs are injected with sperm and held in a lab until fertilization is observed. Typically, 18 hours after sperm is inserted into the egg, fertilization will be visible under a microscope. Eggs are watched and graded for up to 72 hours after fertilization before being implanted into the uterus.
Egg Donation – Who and Why?
Egg donation offers two benefits to donors – support for women who cannot have children and monetary compensation. Donors can make around $4,000 per donation, which is why many college students choose to become egg donors. State guidelines will mandate how many cycles egg donors are allowed to complete before being removed from the donor pool for good. Most often, six cycles are the maximum.
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