FAQs for Egg Donors
We often answer these comments…
Prospective and current Egg Donors, this is a page worth reading! Often we are asked questions about our programme, about what it entails and what your commitment as an Egg Donor will be. As with any well-polished and effective procedure, there are some questions that we are often asked, so we prepared this list for you.
Please have a look and see if we have answered you satisfactorily here – and if not, please contact us and let us respond!
I’m Thinking Of Becoming An Egg Donor. Do I Qualify?
If you’re female (please check!) aged 20 to 34, healthy and from a healthy family, you could be a very special person: you could donate a few of your eggs to people (Recipients) who need them to start their own family.
We welcome Egg Donors of any ethnic background. The usual disclaimers apply: addicts or heavy smokers are a no-no.
Why on earth would someone need an egg donor?
Couples (or singles) may want a child, but can’t fall pregnant using their own eggs. There are many medical reasons why this happens, such as premature ovarian failure, no ovaries, early menopause, age- induced ovulatory dysfunction and advanced endometriosis.
The female may carry undesirable genetic traits, or had her eggs damaged by exposure to auto immune diseases. Or cancer treatment may harm remaining eggs.
Often, after repeated in-vitro fertilization procedures and repeated pregnancy loss, a couple will choose to use the male sperm to fertilise a donated egg so that their child carries half of their genetic material.
A recipient couple can also be a male or same sex couple.
I’m Worried This May Not Be Legal. Is Egg Donation Legal In South Africa?
Yes, the National Health Act of 2003 (regulations about artificial fertilisation and related matters) confirms it’s all completely above board. It is true that there are some places in the world where you may not donate eggs; that’s why a large number of international Recipients who visit South Africa to use our service.
OK, I want to be an egg donor. Now what?
Hang on – as an egg donor you must be prepared to have internal examinations (by the fertility doctor) and injections on a daily basis (for 14 or so days). And, if you are married, your spouse’s consent is needed as well.
At ababySA we encourage you to donate for all the right reasons – so if you’re not sure, wait until you are!
Do my thoughts count? Can I pull out?
Of course. Once chosen, you will chat to our counseling psychologist. We want you to be entirely comfortable with your decision to help our Recipients become parents.
We’ll respect whatever you decide: we can’t predict what may be happening in your life at any given moment. After all, it’s up to you to work with the couple that requested your eggs.
We’ll keep in touch every 6 months, though, to make sure that you still want to be part of our programme.
You know that you want to do this: Thanks. you are a special woman.
Now, please register with us.An online, secure form will magically appear and you can tell us some basic information about yourself. Our cyber-imps have a look and – as long as you fit the basic requirements – we’ll ask you to commit by filling out a detailed application that gives enough information for prospective parents to decide your eggs and genetics fit their profile!
Who Sees My Information? I Don’t Want The World Knowing My Business
Our secure database is password-protected. You will join our list of Egg Donors, where registered ababySA Recipients (those looking for eggs to start a family) can view your profile. They will not know who you are, but will see a bit about you, physically, as well as relevant details of your medical and family history.
But how will I stay anonymous, then?
Your name will be a pseudonym. Now’s your chance to use that name you secretly wanted! And published pictures are only of toddler-age and less.
Our cyber-imps can see your forms, but they are very trustworthy!
We are a completely anonymous egg donor agency! Confidential or identifying information will not be shared with anyone, ever. By law.
So what do the Recipients look for? How will they choose me?
It’s not a competition!
Obviously, your physical look is important. An infertile woman and her partner will often choose a donor who looks similar to her. So, hair- and eye-colour may be important. Or not. Your shared interests may be important. Or not. So, there’s no such thing as a perfect look and feel: we need women of all races, heights and appearance.
Parents fancy intelligence and good health (who doesn’t?), so family genetics usually play a role. And a normal, healthy body mass index is good, because it makes hormone therapy more predictable.
The unique bits that make up you, the donor, are the unique bits that will resonate with Recipients. It’s very important to complete the forms honestly and thoroughly. And let’s have some decent pics of you as a baby. It’s all hugely appreciated by Recipients.
Once you’ve completed our online forms, your Recipients will have access to enough of your personal (but anonymous) information to make an informed choice.
Is anything else important to the Recipients?
This is a very serious, emotional and expensive business for infertile parents. Above all, they need to know that you are committed to give your time and to stay healthy during the process of helping another human being to become a parent.
You’re obviously a compassionate and kind woman; Recipients will want a sense of responsibility to match.
My Kids Will Be Out There. Won’t That Be Strange For Me?
Unfertilised eggs are discarded by your body with your normal menstrual cycle. And to make a child, you also need an entire swagbag of goodies: sperm; a healthy womb, a mother. There aren’t going to be any of your children running around any where, but there may be children that carry some of your genetic material, loved by parents who have moved mountains to welcome them into their lives!
An egg donor, surrogate or birth mother is special person who helped to create that child, but they are not that child’s mother.
I use birth control (or I am sterilised). Can I still be an egg donor?
You can still use the Pill while you are waiting for a recipient to choose your eggs, but – once chosen and the donation process is underway – you’ll have to use non-chemical contraception. Or (oh no!) abstain for a month.
Norplant (Jadelle) or Depo-Provera (2/3 month injection) is a bit different: you must stop this form of birth control and have two consecutive periods after stopping, before you donate.
It’s a bit simpler if you have an Intrauterine Devices (IUD): if yours doesn’t release hormones (like the Copper T), you may be able to donate with the IUD still in place. The Mirena will have to be removed before you donate, but will be replaced as the retrieval happens (at no cost to you).
Sterilised women can donate, too.
I'm a virgin. Can I donate?
Yes, you can. You will have an internal examination and when the eggs are retrieved, your hymen may be ruptured.
I'm breastfeeding. Can I donate?
No, not yet. Sorry. Finish breastfeeding and we’ll happily take you on!
Can I have sex during egg donation?
Not in the clinic. But, yes, it’s fine at most other times.
Just remember that, from the time you start follicle stimulation, until you get your next period (it takes about 4 weeks) you’ll be highly fertile. If you want to avoid pregnancy, use non-hormonal birth control like condoms. Or even (gasp!) abstinence.
We do worry that you may become pregnant, or contract an STD while on the medication. If so, we have to cancel the treatment. We normally suggest you get back to normal eight to ten days after the retrieval, when your menstrual cycle starts again.
Don't I need ALL my eggs so I can fall pregnant?
You’re born with about two million eggs. By puberty, only 300,000 immature eggs are left: every month, a group of eggs grow and develop so your body ovulates once each cycle.One egg! The remaining eggs from this group don’t develop fully and are flushed in the menstrual cycle.
As we age, so the efficiency of ovulation and quality of your egg may reduce; that’s one of the reasons why we have an age limit for Egg Donors.
So fertility medicine does exactly what?
It helps your body to rescue many of the immature eggs (usually around ten) that would otherwise have been lost during your normal menstrual cycle.Then, medical professionals can safely retrieve them for use in an egg donation programme like ababySA. It doesn’t affect any of your eggs that your body will use for future cycles. The fertility medication has no proven long-term bad effects.
And long-term? Any chance of me damaging my ability to have children?
Egg donation doesn’t cause infertility. Fertility medication has no proven long-term effects at all.
You may choose to donate several times and then go on to have children of your own. Or you may have kids first and then donate your eggs.
OK, you have my eggs. What about those you don't need?
Our clinics will fertilise all the eggs that you donate with the father’s sperm. Some won’t take, but some will become embryos which are allowed to grow for a few days.Then, one, two or multiple embryos (depending on the protocol) are transferred to the recipient mother, which, if all goes according to plan, will successfully implant and the mother will fall pregnant!
Any additional embryos, if suitable, are frozen for the couple, who may choose to use them if mother does not fall pregnant the first time.
Does it take a lot of time to donate?
Not too bad, but it does take some commitment from you.
After you’re chosen, there will be an appointment with the doctors at your clinic (about an hour). Also, an hour, once-off, with a psychologist. And during the actual procedure, you’ll have to visit the clinic three to four times (over a two-week period) for ultrasounds, checkups and to coordinate your cycle with the recipient mother.
You’ll also have to take a day off for egg retrieval, which happens during the normal work week. We can arrange a sick note, if you need it.
Are we talking surgery here?
No, no cutting at all. You will be under procedural (conscious) sedation, a medical term for very light anaesthestics or sedatives to minimise pain and discomfort.You’re usually able to speak and respond to the doctors and nurses while they retrieve your eggs vaginally, using a suction needle.
You will, however, be in specialist medical hands, treated by doctors who specialise in fertility medicine.
What medicine do I take? When? And how do you know when I'm ready to donate?
You will be injected with a very fine needle (into the fat, not the muscle) with special hormones and given tablets from day three or four of your menstrual cycle. Your eggs then develop in small follicles and are scanned and measured on day eight of your cycle.
The Fertility Specialist will manage your medication after you’ve had your first consultation at the clinic. Each day, you take special stimulation medicine until the follicles reach a diameter of 18mm. You could have five to ten follicles, or even more!
You get a last injection 36 hours before the egg retrieval, to mature the eggs for the actual event.
I'm a bit worried that there may be something you're not telling me. Surely there must be side effects?
Some women experience none.
Some have reported a bit of PMS during the two weeks of hormone treatment; usually mild allergic sensitivity, breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, headaches or mood swings.
Some have put on a kilogram or so, which will be temporary (as usual with PMS).
There should be minimal bleeding, but you may feel a little bloated and uncomfortable for a few days afterwards.
What risks are there?
There are two things you should be aware of: the main risk is a condition called Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS), which happens in 1% of In-vitro Fertilisation (IVF) cases.
If you fall into the unlucky 1%, once the hormone treatment starts, your ovaries may start producing too many eggs. That means you’ll feel sick, you’ll bloat and be in some pain. You’ll have all the necessary cell numbers; immediately, your doctor will ask you to get to the clinic for a check up. Treatment is usually a bit more bed rest, but if the doctors think it’s necessary, they’ll check you into the clinic to be treated with antibiotics.
And that’s also why we make sure that you can get to the clinic for occasional scans: they’re an important part of managing your donation and the medication with it.
Secondly, on retrieval, there is a tiny chance of infection, or reaction to the anaesthetic, as with any medical procedure.
We work with professional Fertility Clinics, where you will have the best possible specialised medical treatment. You are in good hands.
I've heard that these drugs increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Is this true?
According to the professionals, there is no link between ovarian cancer and ovulation drugs.
You have less than 1.5% chance of developing ovarian cancer during your life: your genetics and diet, and infertility itself adds risk, while being pregnant actually reduces the risk.
I want to donate my eggs, but I don't want to die.
I’m sorry to tell you this, but one day you will.
Very very rarely, OHSS can become life threatening. If this really worries you, talk to us. We want you to be sure that you want to donate and we will get you all the information you need to make your decision.
Who pays my medical bills?
Your Recipients pay all medical costs. This is a very big deal for them, emotionally AND financially, and they want you to have the best possible treatment and care.
Will I get paid?
The South African Medical Ethics committee have recommended R7,000 to the Egg Donor per donation cycle (depending on which Clinic runs the program) as an inconvenience allowance for the time and energy you expend in gifting your eggs, to help parents with their dream of having children.The compensation is paid in cash, by the clinic, on the day of the egg retrieval, after the procedure.
Eggs are not sold, they are gifted and no price can be put on that gift.
Your recipient parents will never forget you.
Can I donate more than once?
Yes, you can. In South Africa, the medics suggest a maximum of donate six donations, or five pregnancies, whichever comes first. Clinics may differ slightly in this, but will be able to justify their policy to you.
Once you are matched, or chosen, we remove your profile from our website. After at least one normal cycle and period, you may choose to donate again – so you have at least three months break between donations, and the decision to continue is yours and yours alone.
How does my child ensure that future partners are not biologically related to them?
It’s a tiny chance, but, wow! What if, indeed?
Although the process of Egg Donation is completely anonymous in South Africa, you may ask your Clinic for the birth date of any child born to your recipients, if you think your own child may be dating somebody born from your donated eggs.
If this birth date matches that of your child’s partner, the clinic will then further confirm or deny whether the partner is the child born from your donated eggs, based on their unique ID number.
Will I ever meet the parents?
No. Not allowed. By law.
How will I feel after the procedure?
You’ll probably want to sleep for the rest of the day. Take it easy for a few days, the same as with any medical procedure: your fertility clinic physician will tell you exactly what he expects after the retrieval.
Oh yes, you MUST have someone drive you home after the procedure. It’s the law.
How do my donated eggs increase the chance of pregnancy for a recipient?
An infertile couple comes to us only after a long emotional and draining path. They want the best possible Donors to help them fall pregnant and a young, healthy egg donor will generally have young, healthy eggs. A greater chance falling pregnant follows.
Or will I know if my donation helped?
All right then, if the parents are OK with this and you really want to know, the doctor will let you know. But you will never know who they are and they will never know who you are.
Must I register with ababySA only?
We’d prefer that, obviously!
Recipients are investing a heap of money and emotions in this process, and we take that VERY seriously. Besides, why would you want to be anywhere else? We treat you in the same way we’d like to be treated – with courtesy, understanding and commitment as we share in this fantastic journey. This may be the greatest thing you do in your life.
If you really want to go elsewhere, that’s fine, but we must ask that you let us know immediately if you are chosen, as you can only donate to one couple at a time. We are all about professional service, and we need our Recipients to be comfortable that you are available and committed to helping them achieve their dreams of a family.
We care about one thing only – professional services to the special groups with whom we work: Donors, Recipients and Clinics. We have plenty of experience in managing the process of Egg Donation and – at the end of the day – it’s all about a successful pregnancy. It’s about you, not us.
We want, manage and support committed, high-quality Donors; we provide these special people to Recipients with empathy and an understanding of their special circumstances and we support busy Clinics with properly-screened, responsible and committed people.
Our system is the most competent and non-intrusive secure database in existence, and we have international affiliates in the pipeline.
For us, it’s all about results. Dandelions thrive under the most adverse conditions, releasing dozens of seeds representing fertility and abundance. A dandelion has the ability to hold the weight of a wish of love and of hope.