Over the past decade, there has been a big increase in the number of egg donor cycles in South Africa and all around the world. Due to various factors, infertility affects 1 in 6 couples, but through the generous gift of donor eggs, many of these parents-to-be are able to finally have a child of their own. So, what’s egg donation all about? Is it safe, and are there risks associated with becoming an egg donor?
Sharing the gift of family
While egg donors do receive financial compensation for their time and effort, the compensation received pales in comparison to amazing feeling egg donors get knowing that their generous donation brought joy to all the hopeful parents out there.
Imagine the joy in the hearts of a couple who find out that after a long and difficult journey, they are finally expecting a child of their own. Nothing comes close to the happiness of newly expectant parents, except perhaps the happiness of knowing that you made it possible for them.
What is egg donation?
As women, we are born with all the eggs we will ever have in our lifetime, around 1-2 million. At puberty, that number has dwindled to 300,000 and subsequently approximately 750-1000 eggs are lost each month by a process called atresia. During an egg donation cycle, around 15 of those eggs are retrieved instead of being lost during the normal monthly cycle and donated to the mom-to-be.
Young, healthy women selflessly donate a few of their healthy eggs to a recipient to be used in IVF treatments, giving the recipient a chance to experience the wonders of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood.
There are three parts to egg donation: Initial Assessment, The Stimulation Phase and Egg Retrieval.
Once you are chosen to donate, you will have an initial assessment with the fertility specialist to ensure that you are medically healthy enough to donate. You will also have a psychological assessment with a psychologist or social worker to ensure that you are mentally healthy enough to donate. Egg donors do not have to pay for any of the medical appointments, or the blood tests, or the medication.
Once you have been declared medically and mentally fit to donate, the treatment dates will be discussed with you and then the next phase starts – the stimulation phase. For around 10 days you will taking fertility medication to grow and prepare your eggs.
The fertility medication is a hormone that is administered through daily injections for 10 days. Sounds scary, but it really isn’t that bad! It’s a tiny, thin needle that is easy to inject. During these 10 days, you will need to see the fertility specialist every second or third day for an ultrasound to check that your body is responding appropriately to the medication.
Egg retrieval usually happens around 10 days after you started the fertility medication, once your eggs are mature and ready to be retrieved. Eggs are retrieved via a minor procedure during which you will be given a light sedation. The entire procedure is quick, safe and painless.
How safe is it to donate my eggs?
Some women are dissuaded from donating their eggs because they are afraid that it negatively affects their chance of having children later in life.
The reality? This is simply not true. As mentioned previously, every month you are losing hundreds of eggs during your normal monthly cycle. By becoming an egg donor, you are gifting some of your healthy eggs (that would have gone to waste anyway!) to a really worthy couple who have longed for a child of their own for a very long time. .
Another concern potential egg donors might have is a question around the safety of the egg retrieval process. Rest assured – there is a very safe procedure as there is no operation – not cutting or scaring. Eggs are retrieved via a minor procedure that is done safely and painlessly.
Is egg donation painful?
Short answer: No! Not at all. Egg retrieval is done under light sedation, so you will be asleep during the procedure, and you will not feel any pain at all.
Do the injections hurt? They are not that bad at all. It’s more like a pinch than a pain, and you get used to it very quickly.
Egg donors should not feel any pain before, during and after the donation process.
South Africa’s most successful egg donor program
Nurture Egg Donation Agency is the most successful and longest running egg donor program in South Africa. We assist future parents to find their ideal egg donor, and our entire team has first-hand, personal experience with the ins and outs of fertility treatment. We have over 400 readily available awesome egg donors, and we’ve completed over 3,500 egg donor cycles. We want to hear from both women who would like to become egg donors, and from parents-to-be looking for egg donors. If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with Nurture today.