How the egg donation process works

How the egg donation process works

You are a healthy young woman between the age of 21 and 33 and you have seen an advertisement or have somehow become aware of egg donation. Perhaps you have a relative or friend who has been unable to conceive and you’ve witnessed her plight and heartbreak firsthand. Or maybe you know a fabulous same sex couple or a singleton that also yearns to have a child.

No matter how you became aware or why you were initially inspired to donate, here is what you can expect once you embark on this journey as an egg donor.

First, you have to fill out a detailed application form at your preferred donor agency (make sure you are with an agency that is first class). Typical information you would have to disclose includes your physical traits such as your height, weight, eye colour, natural hair colour; personality traits; your educational history; medical history; etc.

You’ll also be required to supply photographs of yourself as a baby, a toddler and a young child (up to the age of ten). Once you have been selected to be on the agency’s database of registered donors, this information and the photographs is what the prospective recipients of your donor eggs will have access to. The donor agency may also expect you to provide a recent photograph of yourself for their own records, but since egg donors remain anonymous in South Africa, the prospective donor egg recipients will never get to see a photograph of you as an adult or find out what your real name and contact details are.

If the agency accepts you based on your application form, you’ll have a face to face meeting with an agency coordinator to discuss moving forward. This is one of many opportunities you will get to ask all the questions you want to ask, and to discuss once again exactly what is involved in the donation process.

If you are still keen, your profile is added to the donor agency’s database and prospective recipients will immediately start viewing your profile information.

Once a donor recipient decides that YOU are the chosen one based on your profile – and this can take anything from days or weeks to months – you will have two initial appointments at the fertility clinic, one with the fertility specialist and one with the psychologist. Once the clinic receives all the results and is all is found to be in order, you will be put on a contraceptive pill for the next 6 – 8 weeks (provided that you are not already on one.)

The actual donation process will therefore begin approximately 6 – 8 weeks after that initial appointment with the doctor and psychologist.

About a week before you’ll begin treatment, you’ll have another brief appointment at the clinic to collect all your relevant medication. Please note that you as the donor do not have to pay for any of the doctor’s appointments, assessments or medication pertaining to the egg donor program. You may have to miss classes or work for some of your appointments, but doctor’s notes will be supplied for any/all visits. It is for this inconvenience and for all your petrol and you’ve made that you will receive the financial compensation of approximately R5 000.

On the first day of your menstrual cycle after you’ve begun taking the contraceptive, you will book an appointment for your Day 8 scan. On the third day, you will begin the daily hormone injections. On Day 8, you will have your first scan. From then until Day 12, you will receive the second and third scans. Depending on how well your body has responded to the hormonal treatment, you should be undergoing the egg retrieval procedure approximately 14 days after starting the treatment.

The Egg Retrieval Process

The actual procedure only takes about 20 – 30 minutes with about an hour recovery time at the clinic. The name of the procedure you will undergo is called an oocyte (egg) aspiration. During it, the doctor will pass a needle through your upper vagina into each ovary to extract the mature eggs. The doctor uses an ultrasound to guide him/her through the process. Since the eggs are only a tenth of a millimetre in size, they can be easily sucked through a needle. The eggs grow in follicles which are bubbles of water which are 2cm in size. The needle pierces the follicles and sucks the water out with the egg in it.

During the procedure, you will be placed under intravenous sedation for comfort called ‘twilight sedation’. It is a type of anaesthetic technique during which the patient is sedated, but not entirely unconscious. It is just like regular anaesthesia, in that it uses many of the same drugs (but in lower dosages) and is also designed to make the patient feel more comfortable, but it carries fewer risks. Although the patient may not be entirely asleep, but in a ‘twilight’ state or light sleep, the anaesthesia also relieves the anxiety on the part of the patient, ensures that the patient feels no pain during the procedure and creates a state of amnesia so that the patient won’t remember the procedure later on.

The drugs used in twilight anaesthesia are fast acting and quick to reverse, so patients can be woken up in a matter of minutes.

If you feel uncomfortable or anxious about the level of sedation, feel free to discuss it with the doctor and he will ensure that you are given extra medication to sedate you more.

After a brief recovery from the anaesthesia, you will be able to go home. Someone must be there to drive you home. Once at home, you should rest for the remainder of the day. Just relax and make sure that you stay hydrated.

Some donors experience some spotting and mild discomfort after the procedure (akin to menstrual cramps), but a general painkiller (such as myprodol) should provide adequate relief.

Donors who have completed the procedure will have to avoid having unprotected sex until the completion of their next menstrual cycle, since she will be extremely fertile. So if you do not want a pregnancy of your own just yet, just remember: no glove, no love!

Over the next few weeks, the donor agency will remain in touch with you to let you know whether your donation had resulted in a pregnancy or not.


Mom expecting 2 sets of twins after a decade of infertility

They say, “when it rains, it pours,” and one couple in Seattle knows this all to well (and then some). Misty & Brian Baker tried to get pregnant with a child for 10 years with no success, and finally enlisted the help of a good friend to act as a surrogate when they couldn’t conceive on their own. Even though they were totally broke from their previous failed attempts at IVF, they figured that using a surrogate was their last shot at having a family, so they went for it.

But when doctors suggested that Misty go through IVF just one more time, alongside her surrogate, she obliged, thinking there was no chance at all she’d wind up conceiving. And as we all know, assuming that you won’t get a certain outcome is a surefire way to make sure it happens. Not only did the surrogate wind up pregnant with twins — Misty did too!

That’s right — the couple is now expecting four babies!

Via The Stir


Mommy bloggers help us to recruit donors

So many moms, and especially those who have suffered from infertility, know the gift of motherhood, and have been helping us find new donors to help give others that same gift.

Some awesome mommy bloggers have been recruiting for us. Here’s what one of them, Sharon van Wyk, of I Believe in Miracles, has written. We’ll feature more in coming weeks. PS: if you’d like to feature something on your own blog or website, please comment below and we’ll set you up with all the relevant info.

Could You Help Infertile Women Just Like Me Become A Mother?

Long before I ever knew that I was infertile, there were two things I was pretty sure I wanted to do during my life, both of them stemmed from being inspired by my Aunt and Uncle and my two cousins. You see, my Aunt is infertile but sadly for her, she struggled with infertility during the 1970′s at a time when there was no medical treatment for the infertile. Their only option was to adopt and I was always so inspired by the creation of their family.

As a teenager and a young woman, the two things I always felt sure I wanted to do was to adopt a child (I naively assumed was unwanted) and donate my eggs to a couple struggling with infertility.

Oh, the irony is so not lost on me!

Fast forward about 20 years and here I am, approaching the big 40 (yikes), a mother through adoption, hoping to add to my family via another adoption and with such vrot eggs that even if I were 10 years younger, I couldn’t, on good conscience, ever put myself forward as an egg donor.

Granted, one part of my two part desire did come to fruition, I have adopted a child, I am a mother via adoption but the other part of that desire, the part where I get to do something altruistic for someone else, the part where I get to help someone else see their dream of parenthood realized via donor eggs, well, that part is not going to happen.

But then I realized I could still do something, no matter how small, towards that desire to be an egg donor and that is, I can encourage other women, who don’t have vrot eggs, to pursue donating their own, healthy eggs.

So if you have EVER thought about being an egg donor, or would like to find out more, please download this document: Help others by becoming an egg Donor For all the details on what’s involved and the basic requirements and remember, if you contact Nurture, to let them know that I referred you.

Would you trust an at-home men’s fertility test?

When a couple is struggling to conceive, it’s the woman who is usually the first — and often the only one — to be poked, prodded and analyzed, experts say. The burden of figuring out infertility is too often placed on the woman alone.

“Unfortunately, the majority of society looks at infertility as a women’s issue, but that’s just not the case,” said Brad Imler, American Pregnancy Association president.

Placed among dozens of pregnancy, ovulation and female fertility kits, an at-home sperm test that hit retail shelves in April could help change that mentality, experts said. SpermCheck Fertility, which determines in minutes whether a man’s sperm count is low, offers almost instant insight into one of the many aspects of male fertility. Although it’s not a comprehensive evaluation and could give some consumers a false sense of security, the test does provide a starting point while drawing attention to male infertility as a legitimate health concern.

“It may provide (an opportunity for) both physicians and couples to take a closer look at ways for men to step up to the plate and optimise their reproductive potential,” said Dr. Robert Brannigan, urologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “I think anything that highlights the fact that men can have issues, that men do play a role in infertility, is important.”

Approximately 15 percent of U.S. couples of reproductive age who are trying to conceive face infertility issues, said Brannigan, an expert in male fertility. Male infertility contributes to 50 percent of those cases, he said. Male infertility alone is the cause 30 percent of the time; a combination of male and female factors account for the other 20 percent.

SpermCheck Fertility is designed to help couples determine more quickly whether male infertility might be a problem for them, said Ray Lopez, CEO of SpermCheck, based in Charlottesville, Va. Many men put off having a semen analysis because they don’t want to provide a sample in a doctor’s office or lab, he said. “No one wants to go through the embarrassment of jumping in that room and looking at dirty magazines,” Lopez said.

Giving men the opportunity to take a test in the privacy of their home helps get the process moving, he said.

Men tend to think they’re perfectly healthy, especially when it comes to their sexuality, APA’s Imler said. This test, which is noninvasive, could be wake-up call for some. “If there is a problem with him, it’s identified a little quicker,” Imler said. “We love the idea of avoiding that heartache of that month to month struggle of trying to conceive without success.”

SpermCheck Fertility is the only FDA-approved home sperm test currently on the market and available in retail stores, Lopez said. The test costs about $40; the average cost of a semen analysis in a doctor’s office is about $100. At-home sperm tests are a fairly new idea, Imler said, but SpermCheck Fertility is not the first one. Four years ago an FDA-approved home test called Fertell, which is no longer for sale, offered an evaluation of both male and female fertility.

There are also several at-home sperm analysis kits available online. They each include a microscope and cost at least $80. Although it’s not the first ever at-home test, SpermCheck Fertility is the first one to use the lateral flow assay method, Lopez said. When the semen sample is applied to the test strip, the liquid works its way up the paper until it reaches the results window. “It’s very, very similar to a pregnancy test,” Lopez said. “The concept behind our test is to keep it simple, user friendly.”

For Brittany Scott, a Cortland resident whose husband took the SpermCheck Fertility test, however, it seemed a little more complicated than a pregnancy test. Scott said she was surprised by the number of steps involved, although none were very difficult. Scott, a “mommy blogger” who requested and received a free test to review, said she wanted her husband to take the test to see if a recent vasectomy had worked. The result showed that the father of four’s sperm count was below the test’s threshold.

“It was blatantly negative. I was really glad that the test was not ambiguous at all,” she said. “There was no line I could mistake.” Scott said she wished the test had been available when the couple was struggling to conceive their first child. After about 11 months of trying, she had pushed her husband to get a semen analysis from a doctor.

“If this test had been around back then, he would have definitely been more willing to do it” than the semen analysis, she said.

(Also available is a more sensitive product called SpermCheck Vasectomy, which indicates whether a man’s sperm count is above or below 250,000 sperm per milliliter.)

For more information, go to Spermcheck.

Via Chicago Tribune

New face of infertility – women under the age of 35

USA Today writes that TTC may well be the new OMG for life as a young woman with motherhood on her mind.

TTC, in Internet-speak, means “trying to conceive.” Being labeled “infertile” or discovering a partner’s infertility is changing the life plans of many in their late 20s and early 30s.

“I wanted to have three children by now,” says Lindsay Coser, 28, of St. Peters, Mo. “It’s been very devastating because this is out of my control.”

She and her husband, Nicholas Coser, 27, stopped using birth control when they got engaged in February 2010. They were married seven months later and began trying to conceive. She saw a specialist a year ago and is now seeing another.

Coser’s generation is living a different experience of infertility than the stereotypical over-35 career woman who married late. More specialists are seeing younger women, impatient to start families; often they haven’t been trying a year before seeking treatment, considered standard practice under 35. They search the Internet for information, provide emotional support online and are outspoken about their disappointment as they put a new face on a topic once considered taboo.

“The older woman is sort of a myth, even though that’s the public perception. Infertility affects women and men at all ages,” says Barbara Collura, executive director of RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, a non-profit advocacy group. It wants to alert women in their 20s to start thinking about having kids – often not on the minds of twentysomethings, who may still be in college or grad school, unemployed, not yet partnered or not emotionally ready to become parents.

Start planning in your 20s

“The best time to have a baby is up to age 32,” says reproductive endocrinologist Pasquale Patrizio, director of the Yale Fertility Center in New Haven, Conn. “After 32, fertility starts to decline and it becomes steeper very quickly up to age of 40, when it declines very rapidly.”

“The time to start planning your motherhood is … in your 20s,” says Brigitte Mueller, 43, of Los Angeles, who wrote, produced and directed a documentary airing on PBS in September called My Future Baby: Breakthroughs in Modern Fertility. It features the Fertility Clock, an age chart she co-developed with a fertility specialist to help women estimate their chances to conceive.

Mueller watched two of her sisters have trouble getting pregnant; she has frozen four eggs for possible future use.

Kids weren’t on Candice Nigro’s mind at 22, says Nigro, 29, of Middletown, N.J. “I just thought when I was ready, it would just happen. We figured we’d try a couple of months and we’d have a baby.”

Seeing couples earlier

Nigro says she and her husband, Michael Nigro, also 29, have been married almost four years. They started trying to conceive in 2009 and found that both had conditions impairing conception. Their second attempt at in vitro fertilization, or IVF, succeeded. Their triplet daughters, Michaela, Emma and Hailey, were born Feb. 1.

Erica and Jeff Bode, ages 30 and 31, of Grand Rapids, Mich., had their son Jack, 4, through artificial insemination, also called intrauterine insemination (IUI). Married almost nine years, they tried four IUIs and three IVF procedures since Jack’s birth. She miscarried once. “Our picture-perfect family was to have four kids by 30,” she says. “We thought we’d be done” by now.

The latest federal data from 2006-08 suggest that among childless married women ages 15-29, 15% report fertility problems; for ages 30-34, it’s 14%.

The chance of pregnancy for someone with no known fertility problems is about one in four or five each month, says Owen Davis, associate director of the IVF program at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. There is a 50% chance of getting pregnant in three months; about 75% in six months; and 90% in a year.

“It used to be couples would come in after trying two to four years. I’m definitely seeing a majority of couples after only five months of trying, and both are fairly young,” says Marc Goldstein, director of that facility’s program for men and co-author of the 2010 book A Baby at Last!

Younger women want to act, not wait, says psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University, author of the new book The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant.

The infertility toll isn’t just medical and financial. It’s also emotional, experts say.

“Every month, it’s a roller coaster of emotions,” says Jennifer Hampshire, 30, of Keego Harbor, Mich., who has been diagnosed with endometriosis. She and her husband have had four failed IUIs.

“People say to me, ‘You’re still young,’ but I’m already past my point of being super fertile,” she says. “It’s a very insensitive thing to say to someone going through infertility, especially for us who are younger. I don’t feel like time is on my side.”

Via Digtriad


From donor to recipient – two amazing stories

The link between a donor and her recipient is a special and unique one. Here a donor and recipient share their stories. (identities have been kept anonymous).

The donor writes:

Hello special soul

Firstly I would like to wish you all the best. I know that between Wednesday and Friday you should be receiving the conceived embryo. I’m sure you are excited and at the same time also pretty nervous. You are in good hands and I believe you would get the same loving treatment from Nurture and the Doctors at the Clinic as I have.

Having been your donor was one of the most interesting experiences of my life. I have never felt so close and loving towards a complete stranger.  

My body has gone through a lot of change since I started going on the contraception and hormone injections. My emotions were up and down and it was fascinating to see how easy I could cry to things like a song on American Idols… completely hormonal!

On my first scan last week I was told that my ovaries where super eager and had produced over 12+ eggs in each ovary. I need to warn you that you have an over achiever baby coming your way by looking at my ovaries. For this reason my retrieval was also moved up by two days.  By Monday I felt extremely bloated and even had to decline my daily run because it was so uncomfortable. I spent most of my morning talking to my eggs and making sure that they understand what was going to happen. I was very calm and believe that they were as ready as I was. Waking up after the procedure I was a bit confused and not sure where I was or what was going on. A rush of relief came over me and for no particular reason I cried. I wasn’t sad but more overwhelmed about what had happened and what was going to happen to you in the next couple of days. 

I believe you will be a wonderful mom and I pray blessings over your pregnancy. I send you my honest love, care, harmony and happiness.



The recipient writes:

Dear Donor

In the exciting process of selecting a donor I read a lot of profiles. I liked some, I refused others, and when I saw your photo I felt maternal, and a sense of love came over me. I felt in a strange way that you could be my baby because of our similarities – the shape of your lips and face, your eyes and even our haircuts! Kim suggested you, and I “knew” that you were my donor.

Some months ago I wrote to Kim telling her that I thought you were my destiny donor.

When I met Melany, she was so emotional. When I asked her if we look similar, she looked at her notebook and said: “ I can’t believe it, you could be sisters!” That was like music in my ears and in my soul.

I feel a great immense love towards you because I can’t believe that a stranger could give me the most important thing in my life. You are so generous, and you complete me.

I had a philosophy professor who said: “I think life is more than the fact to born and to die… at my old age I believe life is the great opportunity to give love.” That sentence is written in my mind and my heart, and since then, I try to give love to my family, my friends, my clients and everyone I meet.

You are the best example of giving, and I have no more words to tell you how grateful I am. I hope my son/daughter/sons/daughters will have your same generous heart.

 Thank you


Egg donation does not affect fertility, says Reuters Health

Donating eggs does not appear to hurt a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant in the years after the procedure, a small study from Belgium found.
Few other studies have looked at the effects of egg-harvesting procedures on the future reproductive health of women who donate eggs.

Some experts question whether hormonally stimulating the ovaries — which makes them produce extra eggs — and removing those eggs from a healthy, young woman could later increase her chance of infertility, but others contend there are no serious long-term risks.

“Egg donation has been offered to patients in Belgium since the 1980s. We were not surprised by the good reproductive outcomes in ex-egg donors,” Dr. Dominic Stoop, medical director at the Center for Reproductive Medicine in Brussels, Belgium and lead author of the study, wrote in an email to Reuters Health.

The researchers gave a telephone questionnaire to 194 women who had donated eggs at the Belgian center between 1999 and 2010. The surveys were conducted an average of four to five years after those procedures.

At the time of donation, women averaged 30 years old.

Sixty past egg donors reported trying to get pregnant since the procedure. Of those, 57 women conceived without help. The other three women required fertility treatment, though two of them sought treatment because of their partner’s infertility.

Sixteen percent of donors had changes in their menstrual cycle after donation. However, none of the women reporting these changes had fertility problems.

“Menstrual pattern could be disrupted temporarily by hormonal changes due to ovarian stimulation, much like how menstrual changes also appear after stopping an oral contraceptive,” said Stoop, whose study is published in Fertility and Sterility.

“In the short term, egg donation appears to have no effect on fertility,” said Dr. Orhan Bukulmez, an infertility specialist at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas who wasn’t involved in the new research. But longer-term studies of egg donors are needed, he told Reuters Health.

Although some researchers argue that the extra hormones women are given before the procedure and possible trauma to the ovaries during it could lead to early menopause in egg donors, studies haven’t found reasons to be concerned so far.

Egg donation is a well-established form of fertility treatment. In the United States, roughly 12 percent of all treatment cycles in 2009 used donor eggs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Future research is needed to also consider possible fertility risks for women who have their eggs harvested and frozen for their own future personal use, according to Stoop.

Originally explored as a way for women undergoing cancer treatment to preserve their fertility, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine still considers that type of egg freezing experimental.

Bukulmez cautioned that the results of the current study cannot be generalized to include women seeking to freeze their own eggs.

Egg donors are a very select group of patients that are chosen for their healthy ovaries, according to Bukulmez. “They may not be representative of the fertile female population as a whole,” he said.

Via Reuters

A hi (and high) five to donation

Egg donation is legal, ethical and regulated in South Africa

Egg donors are healthy, young – between the ages of 21 and 34 years old – women who voluntarily undergoes hormonal and medical treatment so that their eggs can be given to people who have no other hope of conceiving a child.

It is a great act of kindness – as anyone who has ever benefitted from receiving such a donation would tell you – but what exactly inspires young women to do this?

For Kim (not her real name), a 23-year old undergraduate university student from South Africa, the motivating factor was seeing advertisements online and realising just how many couples out there struggle to conceive. “Women have over 300 000 eggs, eggs which would go to waste with each monthly cycles anyway,” she says. “Why not donate some to a couple who desperately want a family? I feel it is the best give you can give, a gift of life.”

In South Africa, egg donation is 100% legal, ethical and strictly regulated by The Policy Committee of the South African Society of Reproductive Science and Surgery. Unlike in many other countries, donors in South Africa remain anonymous, with only her medical history, education, and description of physical features, characteristics, her interests, etc. being revealed to prospective donor egg recipients. She never meets or makes contact with the recipients and the prospective recipients only get to photographs of her as a baby and a toddler. The child’s birth certificate will record only the names of the recipient parents. This also allows the recipient parents to one day choose whether or not to reveal the origins of their child’s conception.

In South Africa, egg donors receive some money for their time and effort. However, the amount paid has been carefully assessed and determined to ensure that donors are not exploited in anyway. The money paid essentially covers the incidentals that the donor will incur, such as getting to and from the clinic during her participation in the donor programme. Although the money can certainly make a difference – especially in the life of a student – it is definitely not the motivating factor, and egg donors donate out of sheer kindness and to make a genuine difference in someone else’s life.

This is exactly what has prompted Kim to donate that first time. She has already donated four times and says she would do it again in a heartbeat. She says: “I cannot describe to anyone what an amazing, heart warming feeling overcomes me when I hear that a [egg donor recipient] couple is pregnant, or when I hear that their precious bundle of joy has been born.”

Scientists can stop menopause with ovary transplants

Women may soon be able to forgo the menopause after scientists hailed a major breakthrough in the success of transplanted ovaries, reports The Daily Mail.

It comes after the cases of three ladies who all conceived naturally and gave birth to seven babies after receiving ovary transplants. Medical experts believe the technology could be as significant as the pill was in giving woman the choice about when to have children.

Stinne Holm Bergholdt, who was left infertile after suffering bone cancer, has pioneered a groundbreaking ovarian transplant treatment, which enabled her to give birth to three babies and could be used to stop the menopause.

Before the chemotherapy, however, she had one of her ovaries taken out and transplanted back in afterwards.

Holm Bergholt, a Danish doctor, told The Sunday Times: ‘Seven years back, I had just finished chemotherapy and my body was very weak. ‘Now I have three children and I am living a normal life. It’s amazing.’

One of the women had her tissue frozen and inserted back into her at a later date, while the other two received ovaries extracted from an identical twin to prevent

The results showed that transplanted ovaries could remain effective for at least seven years and raise the possibility of being able to stop the menopause and allow women to delay motherhood.

Sherman Silber, one of the lead scientists and a member of the Infertility Centre of St Louis, Missouri, said: ‘It is possible to remove a small piece of ovarian tissue, freeze it, and when the woman reaches menopause around the age of 51, we could transplant that tissue back and she might not ever have to go through menopause.’

The findings, to be published in the medical journal Reproductive Biomedicine Online, have led to plans to offer British women the option of freezing parts of their ovaries in the twenties.

Gedis Grudzinskas, a consultant gynaecologist in London, said: ‘Women will have so much choice about when and how to have children, independent of their age and the so-called biological clocks ticking away at various rates in their ovaries.

Read more: