The treatment process depends on the type of donation you have chosen. Below you will a brief explanation of what to expect as a donor:
Voluntary anonymous donation
- Before you can donate your eggs, you need to complete a thorough screening process, which starts with a written questionnaire, followed by a meeting with the physician and nurse, an assessment by the physician and psychologist, and a number of medical tests.
- The results are then discussed and you are given more information on the treatment and schedule.
- On the day of the egg retrieval, all the mature eggs that are retrieved are later frozen for the egg bank.
Voluntary known donation
- Both the donor and the recipient must be screened by a psychologist. The donor’s partner may be involved in this screening process as well and must consent to the donation.
- The next step entails having consultation with a physician for adequate and medical examinations.
- Once the results are known, the physician and nurse provide all the necessary information on the treatment and the schedule to both the donor and the recipient.
- After the egg retrieval, the fresh donor eggs are inseminated with (donor) sperm and ideally, the embryos are frozen. The main advantage of freezing the embryos is that the donor’s and the recipient’s menstrual cycles need not be artificially synchronized to each other, making the process significantly easier for both parties.
The treatment in a nutshell
The treatment consists of various steps. Egg donation starts with a number of preliminary tests, followed by hormonal treatment to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs. The whole process, while taking some time and potentially causing some known side effects, (rarely) poses any significant risks. Nonetheless, make sure you are well prepared to avoid being caught by surprise by one of these known side-effects.
Below you will find a short overview of the whole process:
- A comprehensive blood test to check your general health status, to make sure you are healthy, have no contagious infections and to screen for several genetic conditions.
- A vaginal ultrasound and a blood test to check your hormone levels at the beginning of your menstrual cycle (between day 2 and day 5).
If the results of all these tests are normal, we can start with the actual donation procedure.
- From the beginning of your cycle, your ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple eggs with daily hormone injections. After 5 days, you need to add daily injections of a second hormone that suppresses natural ovulation. On average, stimulation takes between 10 and 15 days.
- In the meantime, you are carefully monitored through blood tests to adjust the stimulation where necessary and to pinpoint the best time for the egg retrieval.
- 36 hours before the scheduled egg retrieval you give yourself a last injection to stimulate your ovulation and mature the eggs.
- A fine, hollow needle is used to puncture the follicles that contain an egg, which is then aspirated. This is done via the vaginal wall and under ultrasound guidance.
- The egg retrieval is generally done under local anaesthetic combined with additional pain relief, which is administered via tablets or intravenously (via a drip).
- In exceptional cases, the eggs can also be retrieved under general anaesthesia, but this is only done for medical reasons and in consultation with both the physician and the coordinator.
Possible risks and side effects
- The main risk is that you, as a donor, get pregnant yourself after the treatment, because at times, not all the follicles containing an egg can be punctured and emptied due to the position of the ovary or the surrounding blood vessels.
- Occasionally, there may also be some minor bleeding after a follicle is punctured and emptied. However, this can also happen following spontaneous ovulation and usually stops by itself rather quickly. However, The blood flows into the abdominal cavity as a result of this, a slight menstrual cramp may be felt.
- Very rarely, the egg retrieval can cause an infection.
- If the ovaries unexpectedly overreact to hormonal treatment, with an excessive egg production, fluid may accumulate in your ovaries and abdominal cavity after the egg retrieval, resulting in bloating and discomfort. Rest and painkillers will provide relief in such instance.
- Considering all the above, it is recommended not to have any sexual intercourse or baths, or to use tampons in the week following the egg retrieval.