Medications in a donor cycle
Advocating for our egg donors
Egg Donation Inc. is not a medical facility, so the following should not be interpreted as medical advice. Educating our clients and making sure they are informed about the process, is very important to us. In order to understand the typical egg donor process, we recommend reviewing our Egg Donation Process page and all the information below.
At birth, females already have all the eggs they will ever have – up to two million. At first, these are immature eggs, also known as follicles. As a female grows, most of these follicles die. By the time a woman begins menstruating, she will have only about 400,000 follicles remaining. A woman produces about 10-20 eggs on average each time she menstruates, although this number varies among women. The body selects a dominant egg for ovulation, and the others are absorbed or released. A woman who has elected to donate her eggs will take fertility drugs which prompt her body to develop the eggs that would otherwise be discarded during her menstrual cycle that month.
The recipient couple will select an IVF physician that will work with the egg donor. While each physician will have their own protocols, there are some general steps donors and recipients can expect during the process of egg donation. After performing a series of medical and genetic tests and seeing that the donor receives excellent results, the physician clears the donor for the cycle. The physician will then create a medication schedule that the donor will need to follow closely. Typically, a donor will take specific drugs for three weeks prior to egg retrieval. She will undergo blood draws and ultrasounds while on these medications to ensure that the drugs and dosages are correct for optimal retrieval. Depending on the donor’s body’s response to the medications, adjustment may be made.
The medications taken by the egg donor help her body develop as many eggs as possible. It’s important for donors and recipients to understand the purpose of the medications, the procedures that will be performed, and any possible risks and side effects associated with each drug and procedure. The IVF physician should provide you with written information about the medications and procedures, and be willing and able to answer any questions you might have. Your safety and well-being and that of the donor are top priorities throughout the cycle.
All medical procedures and medications carry potential risks. Research is in progress to identify possible long-term side effects of donating eggs. However, all current evidence supports the belief that egg donation is a safe, low-risk process. Egg Donation Inc. is an egg donation agency – not a medical facility – so we cannot discuss potential or actual side effects of procedures or medications as this would be considered “practicing medicine.” Our 20+ years’ experience in the industry has given us extensive expertise that we are happy to share, but keep in mind that it is your doctor’s responsibility to keep you informed of any risks or medical issues and discuss these with you. If you would like to read more about the procedures, medications, and possible side effects, we recommend visiting ASRM.org and theAFA.org. These are well-respected non-profit organizations with plenty of information to share.
In a typical donation cycle, birth control pills will synchronize the donor’s cycle with yours or your surrogate’s. Next, the donor will take hormone injections daily (this drug is usually Lupron) to halt ovulation, creating a temporary menopause. The donor self-administers these injections in the abdomen or thigh using a small needle for 10-14 days. Administering the injections is a simple process that your doctor or nurse will explain in detail.
After the Lupron injections, the donor will start a newround of injections, containing gonadotropin hormones such as Gonal-F, Follistim, Menopur, or Repronex to assist the ovaries in developing as many follicles as possible. A higher number of follicles is important because follicles contain the eggs that will be retrieved during the procedure. Finally, the egg donor receives an HCG injection. HCG is a hormone that is considered safe and natural to use to bring eggs to the final stages of maturation and to time the egg retrieval precisely.
Before beginning any medications, donors should speak with their physicians to review the process in detail. An egg donor is highly fertile while taking these medications, and as such, she must avoid any sexual activity. Should the donor contract an STI or become pregnant during this time, she is in breach of contract, and the cycle must be cancelled. She is therefore required to reimburse the recipient for all expenses incurred, including testing, travel, and medications. Donors may safely resume sexual activity eight to 10 days following the retrieval.
Donors need to follow other restrictions as well. A donor may not take any drugs that the IVF doctor does not prescribe or approve. She also may not consume alcohol. Unapproved drugs or alcohol may affect how well the stimulation drugs work, which means that the quantity and quality of her eggs and resulting embryos may be negatively affected. Again, if the donor does consume alcohol or unapproved drugs during the cycle, she is in breach of contract.
Most of the time, egg donor cycles go smoothly, and complications do not arise. However, if you do have any questions or concerns at any point during the cycle, do not hesitate to ask us or your IVF physician. Remember, always direct questions of a medical nature to your physician, who is qualified to give you medical advice. Egg donation is believed to be a safe procedure without long-term side effects, and one that has been in practice for a long time. Every effort is made to ensure the health and safety of the recipient, the donor, and the resulting embryos.
If you have read the requirements to become an egg donor, but are still wondering if egg donation is right for you, we encourage you to learn more about our egg donor program, the egg donation process itself and common egg donor concerns and questions before filling out an application. Don’t forget to also read our tips page on creating a great profile!FAQ's