Donor FAQ

  • Why would someone need an egg donor?
  • What are the side effects of the drugs?
  • Can I still donate if my tubes are tied?
  • Do I have to take time off work?
  • How do I get selected from the donor registry?
  • When do I get paid?
  • What happens if I cancel?
  • Will I still be able to have children?
  • Where do I go for the cycle?
  • Who can view my profile on the web site?
  • What is the time commitment for a donor cycle?
  • Does it hurt?
  • How do they get the eggs out?
  • How do I get started?
  • What happens if the recipients cancel?
  • Is there financial compensation for my donation?
  • Do I have to pay anything?
  • How many times can I donate?
  • Do you screen the recipients?
  • Can I see my own profile on the web site?
  • I have heard that I will go into early menopause if I donate. Is that true?

Why would someone need an egg donor?

Patients need egg donors for a variety of reasons, the most common being age related. Sometimes however, the need for an egg donor stems from cancer treatment, premature ovarian failure, or genetic abnormalities that were present from birth. As a woman gets older (usually around age 40 but sometimes earlier), ovarian function begins to decline and egg quality becomes such that a viable pregnancy and baby will not result. A woman may still be having regular menstrual cycles, but the eggs that are present are of such poor quality that the only way to successfully reproduce is by using eggs obtained from a younger person (usually less than 33). However, it is sometimes difficult to know if a patient is able to reproduce with her own eggs. Doctors use tests that screen for ovarian reserve to help with this determination. Success rates from treatments with the assisted reproductive technologies are usually determined by the age of the egg provider. A woman who is younger than 34 years of age will have a much higher success rate than a woman older than 35. After age 40, success rates with In Vitro Fertilization decrease dramatically.

Does it hurt?

Completing the donation process is two fold. The first step is the stimulation phase with daily injections that the donor has to undergo and this may produce a little discomfort. The next step is the egg retrieval, and this does not hurt. At most clinics, the retrieval is performed under light general anesthesia, resulting in the donor feeling absolutely nothing during the process. However, after the procedure, the donor may experience mild lower abdominal cramping for two or three days, similar to menstrual cramps. In order to combat any discomfort, a donor should make sure to drink lots of fluids and have a heating pad readily available.  Should a donor experience pain more intense than her usual cramping, it is important to notify the clinic and the agency.

What are the side effects of the drugs?

The major side effects of the drugs include bloating and a sense of fullness in the lower abdomen and breasts. Additionally, some donors might experience mood swings as a result of the hormones. On very rare occasions, a condition called Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS) could occur, where the patient has an excessive reaction to the medication causing the ovaries to enlarge considerably, and may be accompanied by fluid accumulation within the abdomen. This could make the donor feel quite bloated. This risk can be minimized by careful monitoring by the physician during the stimulation phase.  Donors need to remember that they will be taking daily fertility drugs for a week and a half to two weeks and this will increase her risk of getting pregnant while on these medications. Therefore, it is important for the donor to abstain from sex while taking the fertility drugs.

How do they get the eggs out?

The egg retrieval is a non-surgical needle aspiration typically done under a light IV sedation. No incision is made and no stitches are necessary. The donor will be sedated prior to retrieval.  The doctor will vaginally insert a probe with a needle under ultrasound guidance into the ovary and aspirate the mature follicles that have been stimulated by the fertility drugs.

Can I still donate if my tubes are tied?

Yes. Tubal ligation does not impact the ability to donate eggs. In fact, it eliminates the possibility of unintended pregnancy while the donor is taking the stimulation drugs and in the menstrual cycles immediately following the donation. Chances of conception are actually increased during these times.

What is the time commitment for a donor cycle?

A cycle of egg donation usually takes four to six weeks. Preliminarily there is a screening phase, which can be completed over the course of a week. Then once the stimulation phase begins, there is the need to synchronize the menstrual cycles of the donor and the recipient with the birth control pill and Lupron. This is followed by the actual growing of the eggs with fertility drugs, which takes place approximately three weeks. After the egg retrieval, menstruation usually occurs within two weeks.

Do I have to take time off work?

It will be necessary to be off work on the day of the egg retrieval and for any scheduled appointment times in the week preceding the cycle. Sometimes, donors feel more comfortable if they take a few days off work immediately following the egg retrieval, but this is not mandatory.  If the cycle is taking place away from the donor’s home, she will most likely need to travel for one week to the city where the clinic is.  All travel arrangements and accommodations will made by Footsteps To Family and paid for by the recipient.  A food stipend will be provided while away from home.  It is our policy to have the donor travel with a companion, as well as arrange for the donor to go home the day after the egg retrieval.

How do I get started?

A potential donor contacts the Footsteps to Family Egg Donor Program either by phone or online.  If, after learning about the egg donation process, she is interested in participating, the donor can complete the intake process online and fill out the corresponding online application.  This questionnaire is detailed and covers all spectrums of the donor’s genetic health history, family history, educational background, gynecologic and reproductive history, and personal profile. The application is returned to the Ovum Donor Program along with photographs of the donor and proof of their identity.  This information is then reviewed. A psychological evaluation will be completed once the donor has been selected for cycle, in conjunction to a thorough medical screening.

How do I get selected from the donor registry?

Only clients who have completed the intake process will be given access to our online registry. While every recipient has a different set of criteria, it is important that the donor submit good quality photographs of themselves (preferably a head shot and a three quarter or body shot), along with a completed detailed application. The recipients will only have access to the information you provide. Therefore it is important to make sure your answers are complete and thorough and the pictures represent the image you want to portray.

Is there financial compensation for my donation?

Yes. Our donors receive a stipend upon the completion of their cycle. In addition, should you be required to travel for the cycle, all of your arrangements will be made, paid for on your behalf, and prior to the cycle you will receive a food stipend of up to $40 a day, as well as funds to pay for taxi fare to and from your appointments.

When do I get paid?

Upon confirmation of completion of the cycle, checks are sent to the donor within five business days.  It is the responsibility of the donor to notify FTF when they are directed to administer the “trigger shot”.  The “trigger shot” is the shot of HCG that is given 36 hours prior to the egg retrieval.  This is the confirmation that the egg retrieval date and time have been set.  It is also the responsibility of the donor to notify FTF when retrieval has occurred.

What happens if the recipients cancel?

If the recipient decides to withdraw from the program after injectable medications have started, you will receive a portion of your compensation at that time ($500 if the cancellation occurs after the start of lupron and 25% of the stipend if it occurs after the initiation of the fertility medication). If medication has not begun, no portion of the stipend is paid.

What happens if I cancel?

If you withdraw from the program at any time, no compensation will be paid and you will be removed from the registry.  In addition, if you have started injectable medications you will need to return all unused medication and you may be charged for any medical screening scheduled on your behalf.

Do I have to pay anything?

As a donor, a 1099 will be submitted to the IRS. All expenses will be paid or reimbursed by FTF.  If you are a traveling donor, you will receive a food stipend of up to $40 a day, as well as funds to pay for taxi fare to and from your appointments.   Additionally, airfare and hotel for you and a companion will be provided.

Will I still be able to have children?

Yes. Donating eggs should have no impact on your future fertility, unless there is a severe infection associated with the donation. Even then, you should still be able to have children. The complication of severe infection is extremely rare and all donors are given intravenous antibiotics during the retrieval and sometimes even leave the office with additional antibiotics to take as a preventative method.

I have heard that I will go into early menopause if I donate. Is that true?

No, this is not true. The age at which a woman enters menopause is determined genetically and is not impacted by a decision to donate. In a natural cycle of ovulation, a woman recruits a certain number of potential eggs for ovulation. The body naturally selects one of those eggs to act as the ovulatory egg. The rest of the eggs recruited will not be put back in the ovaries and eventually die and are reabsorbed by the body. In a cycle of egg donation, through the use of fertility drugs, we are able to utilize all of those recruited eggs, thereby using more, but losing the same amount that would have been lost in a natural ovulatory cycle.

Where do I go for the cycle?

We work with clinics around the country. If the cycle is local to you, you would go directly to the clinic. If you are traveling for the cycle, you should be able to do most of the monitoring locally and then you would travel to the clinic for the week of the cycle.  Each time a cycle is proposed to you, you will know where the cycle is scheduled as well as the particular date.

How many times can I donate?

Footsteps to Family adheres to the ASRM’s guidelines in terms of number of donations.  You should not donate more than six times with at least one month of rest between cycles. This is because the ovaries need to have an opportunity to rest and return to their normal state after the stimulation.

Do you screen the recipients?

Yes. Recipients are screened medically by the clinic with which they are cycling.  These tests measure their readiness to undergo In Vitro Fertilization with egg donation and ensure they are not carrying any transmissible diseases (e.g. HIV, hepatitis, etc.).

Who can view my profile on the web site?

Only clients who have registered with Footsteps will have access to the ovum donor database. Most of these clients have had a consultation with our staff and have completed our intake process.

Can I see my own profile on the web site?

If you are interested in viewing your profile, you can request it and it will be downloaded and e-mailed to you.  In an effort to respect the other donors, we restrict access to those clients who have registered and completed the intake process with Footsteps.


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