By Ashley Friedman, Donor Coordinator
Ashley joined the Donor Team at Oregon Reproductive medicine just this 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.
If you have thought about becoming an egg donor, you may personally know someone who has struggled with fertility or perhaps you just want to help give someone the chance to create a family. You might want a family of your own someday and maybe you are wondering if donating your eggs will affect your body’s ability to get pregnant in the future. To give you the simple answer: no, it won’t! Your fertility is safe with us.
Will donating my eggs deplete my egg supply?
A common question we receive is whether donating your eggs will deplete your egg supply. Actually, an egg donation cycle can be comparable to a menstrual cycle in regards to the number of eggs lost. By the time a young woman reaches puberty, there are about 300,000 – 400,000 eggs in her body. Only about 400 of these eggs are ovulated in her lifetime. Each menstrual cycle, a group of eggs (about 10-20) inside the ovaries begins to grow and mature. Eventually, one egg becomes the leader. This egg is the one that will be ovulated for that cycle and it sends a signal to the other eggs to stop growing. The body reabsorbs the rest of the eggs and they are no longer capable of being ovulated. They essentially die away.
In an egg donation cycle, we administer hormone medications in order to make all of the eggs in the ovaries grow equally. The medications turn off the ability of one egg to become dominant. We allow all the eggs to grow for the retrieval process, even those that would have been absorbed back into the body in a normal menstrual cycle. The egg donation utilizes eggs that would otherwise be lost. Because of this, there is no need to worry about any significant depletion of your egg count from an egg donation.
What kind of effects do the medications have?
You may be wondering about the medications we utilize for the egg maturation process. Often times, women feel wary about taking hormones, wondering if it will make them moody or if it could affect their future fertility. The medications we administer are synthetic hormones that mimic the hormones that the body already produces. These medications are individually dosed, taking each woman’s natural hormone levels and number of follicles into account. There is no scientific evidence that using these medications will have any effect on future fertility. We expect the hormone levels to go back to normal about two weeks after the donation or as soon as a menstrual period occurs after the retrieval.
As far as mood changes, there are some reports that the injectable hormone medications can make you feel moody, similar to how you might feel at the beginning of your menstrual cycle. The birth control pill we require before the donation cycle can actually be a bigger culprit of moodiness. Luckily, the average amount of time required to be on the oral contraceptive is a couple of months or less (depending on the timing of the cycle match) and usually, by then, your mood will begin to stabilize as your body adapts to the medication.
Are there side effects of egg donation?
There are some common side effects you may notice during your donation cycle or after the egg retrieval. The ovaries are enlarged to their biggest point right before the egg retrieval, so this gives a feeling of fullness in the abdomen that can be described as bloating. Slight cramping is another common symptom. There are other complications that could occur from egg donation, however, they are usually very rare. One of the main concerns we take into consideration when we cycle egg donors is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome or OHSS. OHSS is a group of symptoms that result from the enlargement of the ovaries and fluid collection in the abdomen. Symptoms of OHSS include rapid weight gain, distended abdomen, difficulty urinating, and shortness of breath. Some people experience nausea and/or vomiting. In even rarer but very severe cases, OHSS – especially if left untreated – can lead to loss of function of ovaries or other reproductive organs. We make it a top priority to properly dose donors during their cycle in order to avoid hyperstimulation, especially donors with high follicle counts who may be at a slightly higher risk. We do not often have donors who experience OHSS, but we make sure each donor is highly counseled on the signs to watch out for in the event of OHSS and receives fast and responsive care from our clinic to prevent the severe symptoms.
What can I do to prevent any complications?
Here are things you can do during your donation cycle in order to preserve your fertility and prevent OHSS. Take the medications according to the clinic’s guidance, and keep communication open about how you are feeling, especially in the two weeks before and after the egg retrieval. We want to make sure that you are feeling well cared for. Follow the instructions your clinic gives you. One of the biggest restrictions we ask donors to follow is no vigorous exercise during the cycle. The reason for this is any type of jarring or twisting movements to the abdomen (such as running, yoga, etc.) may cause the ovary to twist because of its heaviness, and potentially lead to loss of an ovary. It is also important to note that during a donation cycle, donors are at a higher risk for pregnancy in the two weeks before and after the egg retrieval. Since all of the follicles are maturing at a rapid pace, we highly recommend abstinence to prevent pregnancy during this time. A pregnancy during egg donation could potentially be a twin or higher order multiple pregnancies. People who want to become pregnant after a donation should wait at least one month.
Apply to become an ORM Egg Donor Today!
There are many important things to consider if you want to be an egg donor. Our team will equip you with exactly what you need to make your journey as smooth as possible. We do everything possible to ensure your safety and well-being. We also have a private Facebook group that you can connect with to ask your questions and receive support from other ORM Egg Donors. Our team has years of experience and worked with many donors, so you are in excellent hands! If you would like to learn more, please connect with us and we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, and show you how to get the application process started.