Thinking about becoming an egg donor?
While at first glance you might meet the basic requirements(18 to 33 and a healthy BMI) and you’re ready to jump in feet first, there are a few other important factors to consider.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before you start this amazing journey. So, grab a cuppa (or a glass!) and find a quiet place to think over the below.
Am I healthy?
We all know that a healthy BMI (body-mass index) is not always a clear indicator of healthy you are. You must be free of any serious medical conditions (including HIV), and mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia before you are allowed to donate. You may also be disqualified from donating if you have a history of major depression that requires you to be on two or more psychiatric drugs.
Speaking of drugs – any donors who have a history of drug and alcohol abuse will not be allowed to donate. A few glasses of wine here and there is fine – just be prepared to cut back a little while you’re donating.
And, of course, you must have regular, healthy periods!
Do I have a healthy family history?
During your screening process, you fill out a questionnaire longer than most nightmare exam papers.
In it, you will be asked some detailed questions about your family’s medical history for the doctors to see if there are any possible genetic red flags to consider. These are important! If you can’t answer questions about your family’s medical history honestly and comprehensively, perhaps now is not the time for you to donate.
There’s a list here of the medical conditions that might disqualify you if you or your immediate family suffer from any of them – so please read through before starting the application: https://www.nurturedonors.co.za/medical-conditions/
Do I have the time?
Egg donation is a time-consuming process. Apart from the daily injections that you need to give yourself (or have someone give you if you’re really scared of needles!), you must be prepared to come in for between six and eight appointments – including initial psychological screenings and health checks, and repeated scans to check out how your ovaries are responding to the medication. Additionally, you must be prepared to take at least one day off from work or varsity for the donation and recovery itself.
If you’ve got a stressful time coming up at work or varsity and know that you won’t be able to make the time for any potential donations, perhaps put it off until your schedule clears and you can focus on making beautiful eggs!
(Side note: If you don’t want to disclose to your employer or place of education that you’re donating your eggs, one of the doctors can provide you with a medical certificate to book you off.)
Can I get to all my appointments?
Do you have your own vehicle to drive yourself to all your appointments, or can you catch a lift, take a taxi, Uber or use other public transport? And can you afford to pay out of your own pocket for these trips? While donors are compensated financially for their time and effort, this only takes place after the retrieval has been completed. If money is tight, make sure to budget for up to ten trips to and from the clinic you’ll be working with.
Will someone be able to pick you up after your retrieval?
Another important consideration is the day of the retrieval itself. During the egg retrieval, you’ll be placed under a very light anaesthetic to knock you out while the doctors do their thing. And while you might feel fine, legally you are not allowed to drive yourself home after having undergone anaesthetic. Someone must be there to pick you up after and to take you home.
If you’ve answered yes to these questions, then we can’t wait to welcome you aboard! Head to www.nurture.co.za to take the next steps on your egg donation journey.
In your quest to become a well-informed egg donor, you’ve no doubt
encountered one or more misconceptions around the process that may have you a bit concerned.
Fear not, we’re here to talk through some of the most common ones – so grab a cup of coffee, kick back and relax while we bust some major egg donation myths!
Donating my eggs will hurt my chances of having a baby
Contrary to (somehow) popular belief, women don’t just make one egg per month. In fact, we’re born with about two MILLION potential eggs!
Each month after we hit puberty, batches of those potential eggs are called up – with (usually) just one making it all the way to maturity and ovulation.
The rest of the potential eggs in those batches are like the runners-up on Idols. Still fantastic, but not The One – so your body gets rid of them. What fertility meds do is help to “rescue” these eggs and give them a purpose – encouraging your body to mature those eggs that were headed for the drain.
Long story short? Egg donation doesn’t tap into any reserves that weren’t going to be wasted by your body, anyway.
Donors sell their eggs for a quick buck
Woah! There are a few things in here for us to unpack.
First things first, a donor doesn’t “sell” her eggs. The amount paid to all South African donors – which is currently R7000 – is compensation for her time and the effort of travelling to appointments, taking off work, and injecting herself with the various prescribed medications.
That also means that a donor will receive the same amount no matter how many eggs are collected on retrieval day – whether it’s five or 15.
More importantly, while a few donors may be initially attracted by the prospect of some extra cash, most of the time they’re also committed to helping would-be parents fulfil their dream of having a baby.
And that’s something money can’t buy!
Egg donation is dangerous
Look, we’ll level with you – any medical procedure comes with some risk. But at Nurture, we work with only the very best clinics and doctors to make sure that you’re cared for every single step of the way.
The primary risk is something called Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome, which is still super rare! It’s caused by your ovary producing too many eggs in response to your injections – which is just one of the reasons you’ll be going for regular scans. Our docs will be able to pick up anything dodgy on the scans and adjust your meds accordingly.
If you do get OHSS, it’ll usually be a day or two after your retrieval, and you’ll know about it! You may experience severe bloating, pain and nausea. Don’t be a hero – call us straight away! Usually you’ll just be put on bed rest while your ovaries calm down, but that’s the doctor’s call.
The great news is that in South Africa we use a medical trigger protocol involving the use of a drug called Lupron, which pretty much totally removes the risk of OHSS – hurrah!
And as with every medical procedure – from a dentist’s appointment to a knee op – there’s also a small risk of infection, but most clinics will give you a shot of an antibiotic to reduce that risk.
Donating my eggs will hurt
You’ll have figured by now that we believe that honesty is the best policy. So, while we would love to say that it absolutely won’t hurt, it’s different for every woman. Some may be up and about straight away with not a care in the world, while others experience more discomfort than others.
However, it shouldn’t be excruciating pain!
Firstly: Yes, there are injections. About one a day for two weeks. But the sisters at the clinic will show you how to inject yourself so that you don’t really feel it, and after the first few days you’ll have it totally in your stride! (Spoiler alert: Bruises are normal while you’re learning this new skill. Wear them with pride!)
The hormone medication can make you a bit uncomfortable – you could have sore boobs, some bloating, some cramping, some headaches, or… Nothing at all!
During the procedure, you’ll be put under a mild anaesthetic and won’t feel a thing. When you wake up, you might be a bit “crampy” and sore, but much like with period pain, a hot water bottle and some pain killers will have you sorted. You have our full permission to spend the day on the couch bingeing on Netflix and napping.
But remember, feel free to ask your doctors, nurses and Nurture BFFs any and all questions at any stage of the process! Our goal is to make you feel informed, empowered and – dare we say it – loved!
Getting ready for your first donation?
If you’re anything like we are, preparation is everything!
One of our former donors – who has six donations under her belt – share
s her must-have items for retrieval day!
Clothing that is comfortable and easy to put back on is a must! You may be a little sore or tired after the procedure, so the last thing that you will want to do is squeeze into a pair of super-skinny jeans (no matter how great they look on you!) or super fiddly sandals. We give you full permission to wear comfy sweatpants and slip-on shoes.
Something to read
You might need to wait a while before your procedure, and there are only so many times you can scroll through your Instagram feed, so take some reading material with you to help you pass the time.
Some bleeding after the procedure is normal, and the sanitary towels they give you at the clinic are usually not the most comfortable. Have your own brand of pads on hand and remember – tampons are out!
When you wake up, the nurses will bring you something small to eat, a cup of tea, or something else to drink while you’re in the recovery room. But because you’ve fasted before the procedure, you may be extra thirsty! Bring a bottle of water.
Even if you feel fine, resting after the procedure is a non-negotiable. In fact, it’s a perfect excuse to spend the day on the couch napping and binge-watching shows on Netflix! Have a hot water bottle on hand in case you’re feeling sore, and your favourite snacks within arm’s reach.
Maybe you’ve seen a Facebook ad or a flyer. Perhaps you’ve overheard a conversation on the topic.
But what exactly is egg donation? We break it down for you.
Put a label on it
Simply put, egg donation is when one woman donates some of her eggs to another woman with one goal in mind – to make healthy babies!
There are a number of reasons for hopeful parents to choose an egg donor. Perhaps they’ve struggled to conceive using the woman’s own eggs. Perhaps there’s a medical reason or genetic condition in play. And perhaps you’re donating to a single dad or a gay couple.
Whatever the reason, the recipient has usually gone down a long, hard road before they get to you, and your hugely generous donation could be what finally allows them to achieve their dream of becoming parents!
The nitty gritty
Unfortunately, not everyone can donate their eggs. Women must be between the ages of 19 and 32, have a healthy BMI, and not have any serious medical conditions, genetic disorders, or sexually transmitted diseases (including HIV). Recreational drugs are also a no.
Egg donations are completely anonymous and handled through an agency or clinic. You won’t meet the intended parents or know each other’s names, and they won’t see any adult pictures of you.
The intended parents will read your donor profile to get to know your medical history, your family’s medical history and, perhaps most importantly, the type of person you are. Think of it as the world’s most in-depth dating profile! They will also see the gorgeous baby and kiddie photos that you provide to them – so make sure your kiddie pics are ultra-cute!
Donors are compensated R7000 for their time and effort – and it’s a BIG commitment. You will need to be prepared to inject yourself every day for around two weeks, take or change birth control to sync your menstrual cycle with the recipient’s, and make yourself available for scans and check-ups throughout the process.
All right, sounds good. I’m in.
Great! Once you’ve filled out your epic donor profile and submitted your baby pics, you’ll meet with your new Nurture BF for an initial interview to talk you through the process and make sure you’re not an axe murderer before you’re put on The List to be matched with a recipient.
Once you’ve matched, you’ll be assigned a clinic and a doctor, go for a medical exam, and meet with a psychologist to further assess your suitability as a donor.
You’ll be put on the Pill (if you’re not already on it) to match your menstrual cycle up with the recipient before you start your injections.
These are a relatively low dose of fertility medication used to stimulate your healthy ovaries to produce more eggs. You’ll need to inject yourself for between 10 to 14 days, depending on your doctor’s instructions, and they’ll throw in some additional injections to stop you from spontaneously ovulating and wasting all of those beautiful eggs.
And don’t worry if this is a lot of info – your amazing clinic team will walk you through everything!
Speaking of, you’ll need to pop in to the clinic every few days for a vaginal ultrasound with the doctor to make sure everything is as it should be, which is a great time to ask all the questions on your mind!
The Big Day
On retrieval day, you’ll be put under a light anaesthetic while you undergo something called “ultrasound directed needle aspiration”. During this process (for which you are asleep!) the doctor will use an ultrasound to direct a needle through the upper bit of your vagina and into your ovaries to “vacuum” those ripe eggs out.
You’re sent back to recovery and monitored for an hour or two before you receive your compensation and a cup of tea and are allowed to be taken home.
Congratulations, you’re done! Go home and rest. Watch cheesy movies, have a nap, eat chocolate, pamper yourself. You’ve earned it!
The next day you can hop, skip or jump your way back to your normal life knowing that you’ve given the greatest gift anyone could ever give – the gift of hope.
Behind the scenes, your eggs are immediately examined and placed in a special culture medium where they remain for around three hours before semen is added to fertilise the eggs. An embryo transfer to the recipient’s womb usually takes place after the embryos have grown in the lab for three to five days, where they’ll (fingers crossed!) blossom into healthy babies and a happy parent!
Right, I’m definitely in.
Great! Head on over to https://www.nurture.co.za/donor-application/ and get going with your homework!
“This warmed my heart so much. Please tell the future parents that I am so honoured to have been part of this journey with them, and to help them with one of the most beautiful things in life. I honestly hope everything goes smoothly for them and that they are blessed abundantly with their future family. It has truly been an amazing experience for me and I wouldn’t change a thing.
Please, please, PLEASE send them all my love”
“It was no trouble at all, in fact the whole process was a breeze and I was feeling back to normal again on Monday evening – I am extremely pleased about the fact that they could retrieve so many and am really hoping the recipient is able to fall pregnant.
To the recipient family:
I came across a beautiful poem that instantly made me think of you.
“I Will Be A Wonderful Mother – Author Unknown
There are women who become mothers without effort, without thought,
without patience or loss, and though they are good mothers and love
their children, I know that I will be better.
I will be better not because of genetics or money or because I have
read more books, but because I have struggled and toiled for this child.
I have longed and waited. I have cried and prayed. I have endured and
planned over and over again. Like most things in life, the people who
truly have appreciation are those who have struggled to attain their
I will notice everything about my child. I will take time to watch my
child sleep, explore, and discover. I will marvel at this miracle every
day for the rest of my life.
I will be happy when I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of
my child, knowing that I can comfort, hold, and feed him and that I am
not waking to take another temperature, pop another pill, take another
shot or cry tears of a broken dream. My dream will be crying for me.
I count myself lucky in this sense; that God has given me this insight,
this special vision with which I will look upon my child. Whether I
parent a child I actually give birth to or a child that God leads me
to, I will not be careless with my love.
I will be a better mother for all that I have endured.
Yes, I will be a wonderful mother.”
I know that you will be a wonderful mother. I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to go through this journey with you, even though we have no contact, it felt comforting to know that there was someone out there going through something similar and that I was in their thoughts as they were in mine. Also I would like to say thank you for my beautiful card, it might have been the hormones but it definitely made me tear up. You both will be forever in my thoughts and I wish for you all the happiness in the world and that you are able to make your dream of having a little bundle of joy come true.
I have no words that can possibly express my gratitude and admiration for both of you.
You will be forever in my heart.