Egg donation > Egg donation treatment cycle

The egg donation treatment cycle

Leading up to donating eggs

What happens in the lead up to egg donor treatment may vary from place to place, but on the whole, treatment centres usually follow the same format. We will let you know how it all works and what to expect, and will give you specific written information about the centre you will go to.

Sometimes you will be offered a second appointment (convenient to you) with a doctor about six to eight weeks after the first. The purpose of this appointment is:

  • For the doctor to talk you through the results of the tests.
  • To go through the consent forms for donating eggs which you will sign.
  • To give you a prescription for the drugs that you will need to take.
  • To see a nurse who will explain the process and start you off on the egg donation treatment cycle. It will be your decision as to when it is convenient for you to start.

Watch our videos in which an Altrui donor talks to the experts: Click Here

Starting the egg donation treatment cycle

At the second appointment, having determined the date of your last period, it will be discussed with you about when you wish to start the egg donation treatment. If you decide to start in your next monthly cycle, you will be told which medication that you need to take and when. You will also be given a written ‘schedule’ to take home; this will be your own individual treatment plan. The centre will explain to you how and when the medicines are delivered and you will be given contact numbers in case of any difficulties or problems.

Once you have decided when you wish to begin the treatment, the ‘treatment cycle’ starts on the first day of your period.

The egg donation treatment cycle itself

The cycle for donating eggs will be explained in days, Day 1 being the first day of bleeding. If you have been put on the Pill the first day of bleeding will usually occur about three days after you have been told to stop taking it. It might be very light and scanty, but if you are in any doubt, ring either the centre or, if you can’t get through and are worried, give us a call at Altrui.

Watch our videos in which an Altrui donor talks to the experts: Click Here

Day 1:  Your period starts. If you have spotting or light bleeding at the start of a period, Day 1 will be the first day of full, fresh bleeding.

Day 2/3:  You will attend the Licensed Treatment Centre for a scan, and start daily injections to stimulate your ovaries to mature the eggs. You can administer these injections yourself as they come fully loaded, just like a diabetic injection with a very small, fine needle. The response to this drug varies from person to person; during the course of taking it, you might find that you will be asked either to decrease or increase the amount.

This drug is Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), the same hormone that you naturally produce each month to make the eggs grow. With this treatment you are given more than you would naturally produce, to help develop and mature the entire group of eggs, rather than the usual single one. FSH can produce the following side effects:

  • Feeling bloated and a bit sick
  • You might have tender breasts
  • You could feel quite emotional

Day 2-5: Once the eggs have reached a certain size your body’s natural reaction would be to ovulate (release your eggs). Obviously this is not what anyone wants, so you will start a second drug to prevent this happening before the doctors have had a chance to collect the eggs. While the eggs are waiting to be collected the body will react as if you have gone into the menopause, where nothing is happening in terms of fertility
You will have a choice as to how this medication can be taken – a decision that will be made by both you and the medical team at the start of the process. You may prefer to take it as a nasal spray, much like you would a sinus medication, rather than as a second injection. Either way the side effects, which are similar to those experienced during menopause, are very rare. They are:

  • Feeling a bit headachy
  • Feeling very tired even after a good night’s sleep
  • Feeling quite emotional

You will continue to take both drugs up until two nights before your egg collection is scheduled. Some people will need additional vaginal scans and/or blood tests during this time, and the unit will let you know in advance if this will be necessary for you.

Day 9: You will have another internal scan to see how the eggs are developing in the ovaries. The aim is for the follicles – which contain the eggs – to measure about 18 to 20 millimetres in diameter. If the follicles are not quite large enough and you need another scan, this is usually done 48 hours later.

Two days before the eggs are due to be collected, you will be asked to stop both drugs.

About 36 hours before the egg collection, you will have one final injection of a third medication. There are no side effects associated with this drug. This drug, which ripens the eggs ready for them to be collected, needs to be given at night. The timing of this drug is very important – if given too late the eggs will not be ripe; if given too early the eggs might be released before they can be recovered.

Day 10, 11 or 12: It is not possible to predict exactly when in the cycle the eggs will be ready for collection, as it can only be accurately determined during the scan on Day 9. However, it is usually sometime around this point, although some donors have reached egg collection very quickly and others have taken longer. This response is very individual and you will know by the results of the scans when egg collection is likely.

Watch our videos in which an Altrui donor talks to the experts: Click Here

What is involved in the recipient’s treatment cycle?

Both yours and the recipient’s menstrual (monthly) cycles will be synchronised, with you both usually going on the Pill for a month or so before the actual treatment cycle starts. The clinic looking after you will tell you both to stop taking the Pill at about the same time.

As the egg donor, you will then start the stimulation process so that the hormones mature the eggs. Meanwhile, the recipient will start taking a drug to thicken the lining of her womb ready for the embryo to be implantated. Each of you will undergo scans and blood tests during this time to check that all is going according to plan.

The egg donation process mimics the natural path of a normal menstrual cycle: building the lining of the womb, developing the eggs, ovulating (egg collection) and finally implantation – or not, if the procedure proves to be unsuccessful.

The Egg Collection

To help make the egg collection process as comfortable for you as possible, you will be asked to take a pain-relieving medicine one hour before the procedure begins. Once in the egg collection room you will be introduced to the team involved, which will probably consist of the doctor, a nurse, an embryologist, an anaesthetist, and his or her assistant.

The anaesthetist will give you a sedation to keep you asleep and pain free during and after the procedure. An ultrasound probe will then be placed inside the vagina and a fine needle (which is attached to the side of the probe) will gently pass through the vaginal wall into the follicles in the ovary; follicles are the sacs containing the eggs. The fluid from each follicle is put into a small tube and the procedure is then repeated with the other ovary. As each egg is found, it is placed in a special fluid in an incubator. Once the egg collection is completed you will be told how many eggs were collected.

The procedure usually takes about 20 minutes, depending on the number of follicles that you have. Afterwards you will need to rest for about an hour before you are taken home.

It is important that you have someone there with you on the day. As well as being able to offer moral support, the sedation might make you feel a little light headed or nauseous and it is better that you are not on your own.

Now that your task of donating eggs is over you should feel incredibly proud of yourself. You will have given the most incredible gift anyone can ever give.

One of Altrui’s donors described her treatment cycle:

I’d like to write a realistic account of the medical side of things and the time commitment. In general the whole process is surprisingly easy.  I didn’t have any symptoms caused by the stimulating drugs, other than slight nausea for the last couple of days. No pain after the collection, although the bloating was bad for a day and half. I felt really sleepy for three days after the collection which I think is caused by the general sedation. But on day 4 I was completely back to normal. From beginning to end I had 6 visits to the clinic: 1 for the initial scan, 1 for counselling, then 3 scans after the stimulation started and 1 for the egg collection. All appointments took on average half an hour including waiting time and can be scheduled early in the morning or weekends. The egg collection was an out-patient procedure required one day off work. So personally I experienced minimal disruption of my work.

For further support and advice about egg donation, please feel free to talk to us in total confidence on 01969 667 875

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