By Ashley Friedman, Donor Coordinator
Ashley joined the Donor Team at Oregon Reproductive medicine last year as a Donor Coordinator. She assists the team in many ways and interacts with our donors on various levels from screening to cycle planning.
When applying to become an egg donor, there are many qualifications a young woman must meet in order to be considered. Among these requirements, the potential donor must be within a specific Body Mass Index (BMI) range (18 – 28 for ORM Egg Donors). Some wom
en who are hoping to become a donor may be confused or perhaps offended by this requirement, however, there is evidence that a BMI outside of this range may have an impact on the growth of eggs and present increased risk to the egg donor. At ORM Fertility, we care about our egg donors and want to ensure they are healthy and safe throughout the egg donation process.
Your BMI is a calculated height to weight ratio, and the Center for Disease Prevention uses this number to determine healthy weight classifications for adults.
The CDC reports that a BMI below 18 is underweight, 25-29 is overweight, and above 30 is obese. Having a BMI above 30 can put you at an increased risk for health complications such as heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes, and some cancers.
There are also potential complications for egg donors who have BMIs that are considered too high. During an egg donor’s cycle, they are placed on stimulating hormones that allow multiple eggs to mature and prepare to be retrieved. If a donor has a high BMI, there is excess tissue in the body that affects its ability to absorb and use the hormones being administered. This means, more medication will likely be needed and there is a chance of lower egg production.
During the stimulation cycle, ORM Egg Donors are monitored by ultrasound every other day in order to view and measure follicle growth. Having increased abdominal tissue makes it harder to visualize ovaries through ultrasound during these appointments. It also makes the egg retrieval procedure itself more difficult, as the physician uses a guided ultrasound to retrieve the mature eggs.
Additionally, having a BMI above 28 can put a donor more at risk when undergoing anesthesia. During the egg retrieval procedure, the donor is placed under anesthesia, so she will be asleep (for about 15 minutes) during the retrieval. Having a higher BMI can sometimes require a higher dose of anesthesia, or it may not be able to fully take effect. There is also an increased risk of adverse effects of anesthesia, including respiratory complications. Donors with a high BMI are also at a higher risk of retrieval complications such as post-operative bleeding, due to increased abdominal tissue.
There are also potential risks associated with having a BMI too low. One of the potential side effects after retrieval is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This happens when the ovaries become large and filled with fluid, and the donor may experience rapid weight gain, excess bloating, shortness of breath and nausea/vomiting. There are studies that indicate individuals with a low BMI are at higher risk of experiencing this syndrome post retrieval.
At ORM Fertility, we want to take as much care as possible of our egg donors to avoid any complications, and sticking to a specific BMI is one of the ways we do this. If you are interested in becoming an egg donor but do not meet the BMI criteria, do not be too discouraged! You are still encouraged to apply as an egg donor, and we can advise you on whether you would otherwise meet criteria to donate. Once your BMI is within the appropriate range, we will then be able to move forward with the next steps of the application process.
We are more than happy to answer any questions you may have about our qualifications or anything else! For more information, please contact our Donor Team. We also host Egg Chats for those interested in learning more!
Learn more about becoming an ORM Egg Donor and apply today!