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Egg Donation Process – Treatment

Menstrual Cycle v Egg Donation Treatment Cycle

Menstrual Cycle

Every month, a healthy, fertile female will usually release (ovulate) just one egg. How does this happen and what’s the difference between this and an egg donation treatment cycle?

The basics

In a natural menstrual cycle, the female body produces a hormone called Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH). Follicle Stimulating Hormone is responsible for encouraging an elite team of about 10 to 12 eggs to grow (if we delve even deeper behind the scenes, several hundred eggs were involved in getting these 10 to 12 top player eggs to where they are!).

As with any team, one of the elite eggs is normally slightly ahead of the rest; that’s the egg that goes on to become the natural leader; it matures and is then released (ovulated). Perhaps it will meet some healthy sperm along the way and be fertilised. Perhaps it won’t. If it does fertilise and the embryo implants the female become pregnant. If it’s not fertilised or if it is fertilised and the embryo doesn’t implant then the female goes on to have a period.

Wondering what happens to the rest of the egg team? Those eggs just shrink and are reabsorbed by the body. Isn’t biology brilliant…

In an egg donation cycle, the aim is to supercharge the entire elite egg team with an extra helping of FSH so they can all be released. Clever, eh?!

Egg Donation Treatment Cycle

Here’s what an egg donation treatment cycle looks like:

1. Suppression/Down Regulation (daily injection or nasal spray for 2 to 4 weeks or 10 to 14 days):

  • You will suppress your ovaries with either a daily nasal spray or daily injection.
  • Depending on the medical protocol that your clinic has decided is best for you, the Suppression (or ‘Down Regulation’) stage could take between two and four weeks before the next stage (‘Stimulation’) begins.
  • Alternatively, the Suppression stage might take place at the same time as the Stimulation stage.
  • Regular blood tests and scans will take place to see if your body is responding to the medication appropriately.

2. Stimulation (daily injection for 10 to 14 days):

  • You will stimulate your ovaries to make egg follicles with a daily injection of Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) for between 10 and 14 days.
  • You can do the injections yourself or ask your friend, partner, clinic or other healthcare provider to do them for you.
  • You will have regular scans and blood tests to see how your body is responding to the medication, including how many egg follicles and their sizes.
  • You might experience some mild discomfort and bloating towards the end of the stimulation phase.

3. HCG Trigger Injection (one injection 36 hours before Egg Collection):

  • When the blood tests and scans indicate that your body has responded to the medication and that you have appropriately sized egg follicles, you will be asked to inject yourself at a specific time with an ‘HCG trigger shot’ to induce ovulation.

4. Egg Collection (15 to 20 minutes):

  • Your eggs will be collected about 36 hours after the ‘HCG trigger injection’.
  • Your egg collection will be performed at the clinic under general anaesthetic, heavy sedation or local anaesthetic; your clinic will discuss the best option for you individually.
  • Usually you will be able to go home within a few hours of your egg collection.
  • You might experience some mild discomfort after your egg retrieval, which can usually be alleviated with pain relief as advised by your clinic, and a hot water bottle.
  • It’s a good idea to take it easy for a few days after egg collection as your abdominal area may be a little tender. Also, if you’ve had an anaesthetic you might want to make sure the after effects have worn off.
  • You’ve done something so amazing that you now deserve some time to be pampered!

Once your eggs have been collected the embryologist will prepare and mix them with the recipient’s male partner’s sperm or donor sperm in the laboratory. Hopefully the eggs will fertilise to become embryos. Between two and five days later, depending on the number of embryos available and the recipient female’s age, one, two or three embryos will be transferred into the female recipient. Your recipients will find out if they are pregnant about two weeks after the embryos have been transferred. You can also ask your clinic the outcome of your donation.

In The Media

Over the last ten years there’s been an increase in egg and sperm donors coming forward in the UK. This didn’t happen by accident. Media coverage, in whatever way, shape or form, has an important role to play. The more media inches, the more awareness, the more donors come forward.

It is as simple as that.

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