Tips For Donors In Preparation For Retrieval
By Delcie Adams, Donor Coordinator at Intend
Once a donor has been matched with a family and the initial excitement subsides, most donors have plenty of questions about the next steps in the process — some even have fears leading up to the egg retrieval.
Of course, this is all normal, but we have found that the more informed donors are, the better prepared and confident they are with the experience ahead.
These are some tips that can help donors through the last steps leading up to their egg retrieval:
Alert your employer when you receive your medication calendar and clear your schedule for the monitoring appointments and possible travel for your donation: Most of our donors at Intend will travel for their donation. Some will be fortunate to have a local donation, but this is rare.
The estimated retrieval date will be on your medication calendar which is emailed to you from the clinic. If you’re working full time, or in school, it’s important that you’re available to attend monitoring appointments and take the full day off for your egg retrieval.
The average time a donor will spend if traveling for their donation is 7 to 10 days, depending on the clinic. If your clinic is out of state, your first few monitoring appointments will be locally near your home and coordinated by your case manager at Intend.
As you get closer to the retrieval, travel is required if your clinic is out of state, and the remaining monitoring appointments will be done at your out-of-state fertility clinic leading up to the retrieval. Keep in mind that monitoring appointments are usually scheduled early in the morning as the clinic likes to have same day (afternoon) results. Flexibility in your schedule will be key for a successful retrieval.
What to know about your medications: You will be given the birth control pill first. It is used to suppress ovulation. The birth control pill is generally taken for two to three weeks. FSH is the fertility medication used to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. It contains hormones identical to those you make on your own. You will do self-injections of the hormonal medications for approximately 10 to 14 days. During this time the clinic will ask you to remain abstinent for a period, not consume alcohol, reduce any vigorous exercise, and limit caffeine intake. Following these instructions are crucial to the success of your donation, and for your own health throughout the process.
Major side effects of the medications are rare. A side effect, hyperstimulation of the ovaries, or OHSS, (when many eggs are produced) can cause some abdominal discomfort and bloating, but less than 1% of women will have a severe case of hyperstimulation. You will be monitored closely to avoid potential side effects. The monitoring will also confirm egg development and maturation by ultrasound examination and blood tests. Expect to have anywhere between 6 to 8 appointments in total (including your egg retrieval). Your flexibility is crucial during this time. Your case manager at Intend, along with the nurse coordinator at your clinic will facilitate the process.
The development of follicles (fluid-filled sacs) can be measured by ultrasound. Blood tests will give a measurement of how well the eggs are developing. When conditions are optimal, hCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) will be given for final egg maturation, and this is called the “trigger shot.” Your eggs will be retrieved approximately 34 to 36 hours later.
With any medical procedure there are always a possibility of side effects and risks. What we hear most from the women who have donated are these side effects:
1. Your medications may cause bloating, moodiness, headaches, hot flashes, nausea and constipation.
2. Common side effects from your egg retrieval may include light cramping and soreness. These varying symptoms usually resolve in a few days post egg retrieval.
If traveling for your donation: Make sure you bring your flight/travel information. Clinics require donors be vaccinated for Covid 19, so make sure you have your vaccination card handy.
We also recommend bringing comfortable clothes (like sweatpants), a water bottle, and heating pad or hot water bottle. It’s best to be prepared to rest and take care of yourself after your retrieval.
Donors can work remotely or attend their online college classes while traveling for their retrieval, so be sure to bring your laptop and anything else you may need. You will also have instructions from the clinic about what medications you will need to take with you.
For more information on traveling for egg donation see here.
At Intend it is our job to make sure you understand the holistic process of egg donation from beginning to end. We want our donors to be well informed, and it is our hope that you always feel comfortable reaching out to our staff with questions or concerns throughout the egg donation experience.
We encourage honesty and transparency from all parties, and we hope these tips are helpful. Remember, you’re helping intended parents achieve their dream of having a family. And it’s our job at Intend to help you achieve success every step of the way.