Guest post written by Heidi Hayes. CEO of Donor Egg Bank USA.
The decision to have a child is usually an exciting one. But for many couples, this can be a journey of unknowns and sometimes, unexpected turns. Fertility issues can prove to be an obstacle to that longed-for child. Some require the help of reproductive technology and alternative solutions to infertility. This can be an intimidating prospect! However, we are here to help. Here are some facts that can help you decide if egg donation is the right choice for you:
When Natural Conception Doesn’t Work Out
Specific conditions need to be met for conception to work out. With so many factors at play, it’s no wonder so many people struggle to conceive. If you are ready to consider other options, here is what you can expect from the egg donation process.
You will first go through a consultation so that your situation can be understood and so you can learn about the different treatment strategies. You will be guided through all the options to make sure you understand them fully. Once you decide to proceed, the doctor will perform an evaluation and physical exam to make sure that your health will not be jeopardized by the pregnancy.
Once preliminary screening is complete, you will be prepared for a successful donor egg cycle by going through some tests that will identify and correct any abnormalities. These tests will prevent issues from interfering with fertilization and/or implantation and include basic blood work, a detailed semen analysis, and a saline sonogram.
Choosing a Donor
One of the most important and daunting parts of the process is looking through the profiles of candidates to choose a donor. View their background, medical histories, family histories, and educational level. Any relevant findings from the screening process will also be discussed with you. Once you find the donor you want, a coordinator will confirm that the donor is available. If you are using frozen eggs, this step will not be required as the eggs have already been collected. Upon confirmation, information about your donor will be given to your physician and nurse coordinator, and your cycle will be arranged.
When receiving fresh eggs, you and the donor will need to synchronize your cycles which is usually achieved through birth control pills and hormone injections. This is so your uterine lining will be ready for implantation at the time of egg retrieval and fertilization. The donor takes medication to stimulate the growth and maturation of several eggs at once, and she will be monitored over the course of about two weeks until the eggs are ready. During that time, you will prepare your uterine lining for implantation of the embryos by taking medication. With frozen eggs, you will only need to worry about preparing yourself for implantation and not the synchronization aspect.
The egg retrieval is scheduled when the donor’s eggs reach the point of maturity. Your partner will have to provide a sperm sample on the day of the egg retrieval to inseminate the eggs.
These embryos will then be transferred to the uterus, usually three to five days after fertilization. Usually, doctors will only transfer one or two embryos, to reduce the chances of twins or multiples. However, you will get to discuss the specifics with your doctor at this point. Any additional high quality embryos from the cycle will be frozen and preserved for use at another time.
A blood pregnancy test is performed about nine to fourteen days after the transfer, and is repeated two days later if the first test positive. The test measures the amount of the pregnancy hormone, hCG, in your blood.
Follow Up Ultrasound
If pregnant, you will then go through an ultrasound a few weeks later in order to monitor the pregnancy. You will likely take progesterone supplements throughout the first semester to ensure everything goes smoothly.
The entire process can be a nerve-wracking one with many hopes and expectations. You may experience many emotions, such as anxiety, hope and relief – that is all natural. Working with an experienced clinic and doctor will greatly alleviate the emotions you have during this process. You will be guided every step of the way by experienced staff who know all the ins and outs. Making the choice to go with egg donation may not be a simple one, but it definitely does not have to be a daunting process either.