Why are donor eggs needed?
There are various reasons why a woman would need donor eggs:
- She can’t produce her own eggs
- Her eggs aren’t of good quality
- She goes through menopause early and stops producing her own eggs (this happens to some women who are as young as 20!)
- She’s had cancer and her eggs have been destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation
- She has a hereditary disease which she doesn’t want to risk passing on to her own children
- She has had no luck in conceiving the normal way, trying for years to fall pregnant, and now her eggs are ‘too old’ or not good enough to enable her to fall pregnant
YOUR COMMITMENT TO EGG DONATION IS THE ULTIMATE GIFT FOR A WOMAN DESPERATE TO HAVE A CHILD OF HER OWN.
What are the requirements for egg donation?
The requirements are as follows:
- You need to be female
- Aged between 20 and 30
- Of normal body weight for your height (BMI between 20 and 28)
- Of any race (all races welcome)
- Not using drugs at all
- Not drinking much alcohol
- Mentally and emotionally well
- Able to get to whichever clinic we are using in Johannesburg (or Pretoria – but you can say if you are not available for a particular area)
- Single or married (if you’re married however, you need to have your partner’s consent)
- Heterosexual or homosexual (i.e. Lesbians are welcome to become donors)
- Not currently breastfeeding in the event that you have a baby of your own
- Committed to the process of egg donation
- Reliable by nature (i.e. if you have an appointment, you’re the type of person who will be sure to keep that appointment, no matter what)
If I donate my eggs to another woman, won’t I run out of eggs in order to have my own baby some day?
Absolutely not. Here’s why:
Every woman is born with around 200 000 eggs in her ovaries. These eggs lie dormant (undeveloped or sleeping) until the woman starts menstruating. Every month, at the beginning of each cycle, a woman ovulates (i.e. about 50 of those 200 000 eggs leave the body). Only ONE of those 50 eggs develops into a mature egg. The other 49 or so eggs die.
So after one menstrual cycle, you have about 199 950 eggs left inside you. After the next cycle, you’d have about 199 900 eggs left, and so on.
Okay so my body makes many eggs. How many of those eggs are taken during the egg donation programme?
Here’s what happens: of those 50 or so eggs your ovaries release during a cycle, your ovaries are stimulated to make more than just one egg mature. So instead of your body only making one egg mature, and having the other 49 or so eggs, die, about 10 – 20 eggs are matured. It differs from one person to another, and even from one cycle to another
Is egg donation legal?
Yes, it’s 100% legal. The South African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynaecological Endoscopy regulates egg donor agencies in South Africa.
How much do egg donors get paid?
In terms of South African law, egg donors aren’t allowed to be ‘paid’ as such, but they are allowed to be compensated (rewarded or ‘thanked’ for their time and commitment to the egg donation process). This compensation is currently R7000. This amount does not depend on the number of eggs retrieved in the process.
Who pays my medical bills?
The person who requested your eggs pays all your medical bills (i.e. the woman who receives your eggs).
Can I donate eggs more than once?
Yes, you can donate up to five times, but it all depends on you. Several of our donors return to donate again, once they realise that the process involves minimum discomfort.
How long is the actual egg donation process?
From the time you start injecting the medication (hormones), until the eggs are retrieved (taken out) is generally less than 14 days.
How will I feel during the process?
If you usually experience PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), there is a chance that you might experience one or more of the following symptoms for a few days: headache, feeling bloated, sore breasts, moodiness. Some people experience no symptoms at all; others may have one or more. From personal experience, I only felt a bit bloated. That was it.
Is it painful?
No it is not painful at all. While the idea of injecting yourself is very scary to many, everyone agrees that it is not painful at all. The needle is so small and thin, and it is just one quick prick on your tummy, just under the skin. Easy to do! When the eggs are retrieved, you are under sedation so you are not aware of anything happening.
How are the donor eggs removed?
This happens using a guided probe through the vaginal wall into the ovaries – I know it sounds awful but it really isn’t. The procedure takes about 30 minutes, and you will be in the clinic for about 4 hours, just to recover. You will have a bit of a discharge for a few days.
How long does the actual egg removal process take?
The entire procedure takes about 30 minutes, but you’ll be in the clinic for about 4 hours just to recover.
What happens to the eggs once they have been retrieved?
They are then fertilised with the potential parent’s partner’s sperm and grown in a dish in a special solution for a few days. Then the two most ‘successful’ results are usually implanted in the potential parent’s uterus – and then she and her partner hope and pray for a miracle!
What happens to the eggs that are left over?
Generally they are frozen and the potential parent can use them later.
What are the risks of egg donation?
Any medical procedure carries a degree of risk. However, the only risk here is that of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHS), and this is very rare (happens in 1% of cases). It occurs when the ovaries are overstimulated by the medication, and produce too many eggs. That is why it is very important to keep your appointments for scans – the doctors will quickly pick up if this is happening and adjust your medication accordingly. If this does happen, the symptom is a feeling of extreme bloating, and it reverses completely within a week or two. But the chances of this happening to you are 1 in 100 cases – so don’t worry!
Will I still be able to have children of my own one day?
Yes, as far as your own fertility is concerned, there are no risks involved. None of the medications used have long-lasting effects. They do NOT damage your ovaries. You won’t run out of eggs, either! At birth, each female starts out with around 200 000 eggs in a dormant phase in her ovaries. At puberty, ovulation begins and each month about 50 of these eggs leave the dormant phase and start their journey to become a mature egg. However, nature being so good, only the ONE BEST egg is chosen to mature properly, and all 49 or so others simply die.
When you start this treatment programme, you still begin each cycle with 50 or so eggs, but instead of only one being chosen, the ovaries are stimulated to make more of these eggs mature – so fewer eggs are wasted during that cycle. So the number of eggs you have will not change at all by donating some.
Will I have to take time off work or studies?
Yes – but not much. Once you have been matched with a potential parent, you will have to go to the gynaecologist for blood tests and to see the psychologist – during office hours. Then during the process you will have to visit the clinic at 7am (yes, I know that is really early but it should be over in about an hour) about 3 or 4 times during the two week period. The day the eggs are retrieved is when you will have to take the whole day off – and that cannot be scheduled for a Saturday, it has to be whenever the eggs are ready!
What about my sex life?
It would be preferable if you abstained from sex during the two weeks you are actively involved in the process – but if you really, really have to – make sure you use a condom! The idea is not for YOU to get pregnant!
Can I donate my eggs if I’m a lesbian?
Yes of course!
What if I’m on birth control?
This only becomes a factor once you have been matched with a potential parent. Then the doctor will discuss with you the best way to go.
How do people choose a donor?
Most people want to have a child that will be as similar to them as possible – so generally they will try to find a donor from a similar background and with eye and hair colouring that matches theirs. Others look for a donor who has similar interests or personality to them, while others really don’t care – they just want a baby!
That is why it is very important that you answer the questionnaire as honestly and thoroughly as possible, and try to let your unique personality shine through! We also ask you to provide us with pictures of you as a baby and young child, so that the potential parents can have some idea of what to expect.
Will I ever meet the potential parent?
No, the whole process is completely confidential and anonymous. You will never meet or know one another’s names. All that the potential parent sees is the questionnaire you completed and the photos you sent of yourself as a child. If you want, we can tell you a bit about the couple you are so generously helping – but that is as far as it goes.
Some people say this is like giving my child away…
If you personally feel like this, then egg donation is not for you. In reality, however, it is like donating your blood, or donating an organ (which is really painful and complicated!) except not as complicated or sore! These are eggs that would have been flushed away with your normal cycle – they would never have developed into a baby. And remember it takes two to make a baby … but I think you know that! What makes a baby is the egg + the sperm + the conditions in the womb where the baby grows.
Will I be told the outcome of my donation?
If you’d like to know, we will tell. If you’d rather not know, or have no interest in knowing, you won’t receive an update.
How do potential parents see my egg donation to them?
You will be amazed! To read about some true encounters our potential parents have had, please click here.
How do egg donors feel after donating their eggs?
Please click here to read some honest feedback from our other egg donors.