Much like trying to find the perfect date for your matric dance,
choosing the right egg donation agency for you is a critical step in your journey.
If it’s not the right fit, the experience is going to be long, drawn-out and painful. But, if you’ve made the right choice and found the perfect partner, it’ll be a dream – and possibly even life-changing!
So here are some things to look for in choosing the right egg donation agency for you.
What’s their track record?
Let’s face it, as soon as you meet someone new, you head straight on to your phone to find their Instagram profile and learn as much as Google will allow you to. If the cutie at the bar looks dodgy online, you’ll be deleting that number, right?
It should be the same for choosing an egg donation agency. Try to find out as much as you can about the agency – from how long they’ve been in operation, to who their employees are. Has the agency ever been in the news? Do they have real references from real donors? Do they mention some of the fertility clinics that they’ve worked with?
Of course, if you can’t find any information on the agency you’re interested in, that should be a major red flag!
Do they play by the rules?
Egg donation agencies should follow the guidelines set by SASREG (which stands for The Southern African Society for Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy, in case you were interested), and they must obey all laws set out in the National Health Act regarding egg donation. Consider this essential reading: https://sasreg.co.za/downloads/Guidelines-for-Egg-Donation-Agencies.pdf
Nurture adheres to all SASREG guidelines (and then some!), and we will always put the health and wellness of our donors first.
Can you get in touch easily?
You should never have to work hard to find the right people to contact, and the people that you do get in touch with should be compassionate, professional, and easy to talk to! As with dating, chemistry is always important. If you don’t ‘click’ with your agency, it’s time to move on.
And because no one likes staring at their phone waiting for a reply… It’s important to us that our donors feel supported and loved from the start. We’ve been known to answer emails at 2am and reply to WhatsApp messages at all hours!
Do you get all the information you need, upfront?
One of the SASREG guidelines states that egg donors must be fully informed about the process, including the potential risks and side effects. If you ever feel like the agency is dodging questions or not answering them properly, take that as a red flag. You shouldn’t have to drag answers out of them – you have a right to be fully informed at all stages. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question!
Luckily for you, here at Nurture we’re chronic over-sharers. Seriously, if you’re interested, you can see which of our team members are dog-mad (Melany!) and what our drink of choice is (wine, please. Chardonnay if it’s going.)
Trust your gut
At the end of the day, YOU are the one that needs to make the decision on which agency to donate with. So, the biggest piece of advice that we have for you is to trust your gut.
If at any stage of your research for an egg donation agency you get a funny feeling about the agency or the people you will be working with, rather let them know that you have chosen not to go with their agency.
- Pick Nurture. We’ve been in the business for ten years and counting, and are positively fabulous.
So, you’re getting ready for your first-ever egg donation – exciting times!
By now you’ll have met with one of our fab Nurture women, been matched and are getting ready to go. Here are a few extra tips from a former donor for making your first donation a stellar experience.
Never be afraid to ask questions during the donation process. If something interests you, ask. If something worries you, definitely ask! If you’re not sure, or are sure and just want to make extra sure, then ask! There’s no such thing as a stupid question. This is an awesome opportunity to learn about some
rad science, and your own health and fertility – so take it!
There are some quick (and cheap and easy) fixes to make sure you stay healthy when you’re getting ready to donate – and help make beautiful eggs for your recipient! Pop to the chemist to find some folic acid (which will boost your egg quality AND make your hair and skin look awesome, total no-brainer) and some good old-fashioned multivitamins. Choose more fresh fruit and veg and fewer processed foods. And (deep breath) – cut back on the alcohol and cigarettes. But especially the cigarettes – smoking has a major impact on your egg quality.
Staying hydrated is important to promote circulation throughout the egg donation process. Drink as much water as you can, choose fluids with electrolytes, and cut down on anything that can dehydrate you.
Let yourself take time off to rest and relax both before your donation, and after! Try to make sure that you’re not scheduling your egg retrievals for times that you know will be stressful for you, and that you take the opportunities to meditate, nap, or bond with your couch and your new favourite series!
Journal and take photos
This is an amazing experience that you’re on – and it has the potential to be life-changing for you. Write in your journal, make notes on your phone and take a million photos. That way, when you’re old and grey and looking back at your life, you can remember all the small details.
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!
Now this is why we LOVE our jobs! Another pair of beautiful baby girls joined the ‘Nurture’ family yesterday. Congratulations to the new parents and a BIG thank you to their amazing egg donor for her precious gift!!
Just had to share our wonderful, wonderful news. xxxxx and xxxxxx arrived late this afternoon at 36 weeks, a minute apart.
Finally our family is complete, all thanks to you amazing ladies, of course. Words escape me…
Our hearts are overflowing with love for our precious darlings. My husband and I cannot stop crying!