Thank you for your interest in CNY Fertility’s Egg Donor Program. Your participation can be a very gratifying and enlightening experience. Egg donation offers hope to infertile couples and single women who would otherwise have little or no chance of achieving a pregnancy.
Your contribution is genuinely a “gift of life”. Pregnancy initiation with donated eggs (PRIDE) is a complex procedure made up of many different steps. Educating yourself about what to expect at each step will make the process more manageable and less stressful for you.
It is important to note that our program is anonymous. Once you complete our application process you will be assigned a number and our recipients will only know you by that number. Donor profiles are not viewable by the general public.
The entire process takes about 6-8 weeks of planning.
The first step toward becoming an egg donor includes filling out the egg donor application. To qualify to be an egg donor you must be 20-32 years old, in good physical health, and have a height and weight within normal limits.
After you complete this form, you will be contacted by a donor program team member and provided with a login for our Donor Portal.
It is important for our donors to understand that when an individual or couple begin the donor egg process, it can be a mourning period of the loss of their own biological child. For that reason, many recipients take time to come to terms with the process and search for donors who reflect similar qualities to themselves: ethnicity, physicality, talents, and interests.
Because we are unable to predict the traits of our recipients and the traits they are in search of for their donors, some donors are chosen within weeks where others are chosen after months of joining our program. We cannot guarantee when or even if a donor will be selected.
If you are chosen by a recipient, you will then be contacted by one of our team members who will schedule you to come in for your initial exam.
At this appointment you will provide us with blood samples, a transvaginal ultrasound, and a mini physical exam. We will review the entire process and answer any questions that you have. It takes approximately 2 weeks to get results back from your testing.
You will be instructed to call with day 1 of your period. In order to prepare your ovaries for stimulation and synchronize your cycle with the recipient’s cycle, you may be started on birth control pills.
Once your test results are in and you are determined to be eligible, we will give you instructions regarding the stimulation process.
The process of donating your eggs is a few step process that follows your natural menstrual cycle.
Controlled Ovarian Stimulation
The first step of your actual donation cycle is controlled ovarian stimulation which allows us to harvest multiple eggs.
In order to prepare your ovaries for stimulation and synchronize your cycle with the recipient’s cycle you may be started on birth control pills. You will be advised about the infertility medicine injections you will be giving yourself at home for 10-12 days.
A female infant is born with approximately 10 million eggs in her ovaries. During her reproductive years she ovulates only several hundred of these eggs. Therefore, you need not be concerned that “hyperstimulating” your ovaries with medications to recruit multiple follicles (fluid-filled sacs containing the eggs) will deplete your ovaries of eggs or hasten the onset of menopause.
In order to stimulate development of multiple oocytes (eggs), you receive ovulatory medications (gonadotropins). The medications currently available are Follistim and Gonal-F, which are recombinant follicle stimulating hormones (FSH), which is the natural hormone that directly stimulates the ovary to produce eggs. FSH has some side effects. Some women have mild soreness at the injection site. This is less common since these newer medications are given shallow in the skin. Warm, wet tub soaking alleviates most of the discomfort. Other side effects, such as fatigue and moodiness, vary greatly from one woman to the next. If you experience headaches while on FSH you can use acetaminophen (Tylenol) but we prefer for you not to use aspirin or ibuprofen (Motrin). Most women feel “bloated” while receiving FSH due to ovarian enlargement, which persists, and at times can worsen, after retrieval of the eggs. This sensation resolves with the onset of the next period when the hormones return to normal levels. FSH can overstimulate the ovaries to produce cysts, but this is rarely a serious complication. More extreme degrees of ovarian enlargement and tenderness represent the hyperstimulation syndrome, which is usually treated with bed rest. In rare cases, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome may be so severe that intravenous fluids or even hospitalization might be required. With close monitoring and experience, the severe degree of ovarian hyperstimulation can usually be avoided.
Another medication used during stimulation with gonadotropins is Cetrotide or Ganirelix. These medications are used to prevent premature ovulation. This class of medication is referred to as GnRH antagonist. Cetrotide and Ganirelix exert their action on the pituitary gland. The pituitary is responsible for producing hormones which stimulate egg growth and development and for triggering ovulation of a mature egg. During an oocyte donation cycle, the physician needs to prevent ovulation from occurring so the eggs can be removed directly from the ovary. The most common side effect to these medications is mild soreness and redness at the injection site.
These hormones have been used for many years without any evidence of an increase in birth defects or cancer. Recently, concern has been raised that the use of fertility medications by fertile women may increase their long-term risk of developing ovarian tumors including cancer. Pregnancy appears to confer protection from that increased risk but the magnitude of the risk in different groups of women remains to be established. While relatively uncommon, ovarian cancer has a high mortality rate. Newer studies appear to be reassuring that these medications do not increase your risk of ovarian cancer.
Since FSH would be digested if given by mouth, it must be given by subcutaneous (shallow) injection. Shortly before you begin treatment, we will teach you or your designee how to mix the medicines and how to give injections. This is not at all difficult to master. Videos demonstrating the injection technique are available on our website.
Monitoring Ovarian Response
You will be required to visit our office for bloodwork and ultrasound every 2-3 days during ovarian stimulation. It is important that you report to every scheduled visit. Please notify our office with any changes in your contact information so that your nurse coordinator can contact you with any changes in instructions based on the results from your visit.
Once the follicles are determined to be mature based on ultrasound and blood tests, you receive a double injection of leuprolide (Lupron). This is a timed injection given in the evening (generally between 8-11pm) and repeated 12 hours later. The pituitary gland releases LH hormone to trigger ovulation in a spontaneous cycle. The pituitary can be stimulated to produce a large surge of LH hormone by giving a Lupron injection. Since the final decision to administer Lupron is not made until the afternoon of the day you get the first injection, it is important that we are able to reach you that day.
Removing the eggs from the ovaries takes place about 35 hours after the first injection of Lupron, just before ovulation would occur. The night before the procedure, please do not eat or drink anything after midnight. When you arrive, you will change into a gown and empty your bladder. An I.V. line will be started prior to going in for the procedure. Ultrasound guided retrieval is usually performed with intravenous sedation. There is an anesthesiologist present who will keep you comfortable during the procedure.
After adequate sedation is established, a thin needle is introduced through the vagina into the ovaries and the eggs are aspirated. The procedure takes about 20 minutes. Following the retrieval procedure you may experience discomfort in the bladder, have small amounts of vaginal spotting or occasionally notice blood in your urine, which usually clears within a short time. Rare, but more serious risks of ultrasound-guided aspiration are injury to the bowel, blood vessel or bladder, infection and excessive bleeding. In the highly unlikely event one of these complications occurs, emergency surgery might have to be performed to repair the injury. The eggs are inseminated several hours after the retrieval and the recipient undergoes the embryo transfer three to five days later.
Most women feel well and are ready to go home a couple of hours after the procedure. After having had intravenous sedation you cannot drive that day. You are required to have a responsible adult present to drive you home. It is wise to plan on spending the remainder of the day resting quietly at home. We recommend you take Tylenol or Ibuprofen for discomfort. If you develop any symptoms, such as fever, bleeding or unusual pain following retrieval please do not hesitate to contact our office. It would be our pleasure to see you for a follow-up visit.
You can expect to have a period two weeks after your egg retrieval. We will contact you at this time to see if you are interested in remaining in our program as we allow our donors to undergo 6 cycles. Regardless of the final outcome, your participation in this program is a generous gesture that is greatly appreciated.
You will receive your compensation check of $4,000 the day of egg retrieval. Please note that since you are not an employee but an independent contractor providing this service to CNY Fertility, no taxes are withheld from your compensation. However, it is our understanding that the compensation you receive is taxable. Early in the year following the egg donation cycle(s), a W9 form is issued and mailed to you at the most current address available to us and the compensation is reported to the Internal Revenue Service in accordance with legal requirements for such transactions.
If the planned egg donation cycle is canceled after medications are started you will be compensated up to $500 provided CNY Fertility canceled the cycle and based on time invested. You will not be compensated if the cycle was canceled due to non-compliance (ie. donor not showing up to appointments or not following instructions). If you have any questions regarding the compensation, please do not hesitate to call our office.
We request that you keep our office up to date on any changes of address and telephone numbers. On rare occasions, we may want to contact you in order to clarify a point in your family history for the benefit of the offspring. We also request that you keep us informed about any serious illnesses which you or your immediate family may develop in the future, particularly if they are known to be hereditary. Since egg donation is a relatively new procedure, not all of its long-term risks have been defined to date. There may be information in which we would like to provide to you and other donors in years to come. Your continued good health is important to us. We welcome any feedback you might have about the screening process and the treatment cycle so that we can continue to improve and refine our donor program.
Please do not hesitate to call our office to speak with a member of our egg donor team with any questions or concerns you may have. Again, thank you for your interest in our egg donor program. Thanks to your generosity we are able to make struggling persons and couples dreams of parenthood a reality. We will keep you informed as to the status of your application.