Choosing to be an egg donor gives you the unique opportunity to be part of a life-changing experience for people dreaming of a family. However, it is important to understand that becoming an egg donor can be a time-consuming process that requires multiple screenings, doctor visits, and more. As experts in fertility, our team of fertility specialists, reproductive endocrinologists, psychologists, nurses, and support staff help you understand what is involved and are with you throughout the process.
Why Become an Egg Donor
Most women are driven to donate because they want to help someone’s dream of a family come true. While egg donors receive compensation, financial gain is not the main reason that donors choose this path. Learning what motivates you to become an egg donor is part of the initial screening process. Our fertility specialists and psychologists will discuss why you’re exploring egg donation so you and our team can better understand what’s important to you.
If you'd like to become an egg donor, you'll first need to contact our team. A donor nurse coordinator will reach out to you to discuss the process and how you can complete a short informational form.
Becoming an Egg Donor
We’ll analyze your family medical history and make sure you meet certain health requirements:
- First-time donors must be between 21 and 30 years old. If you’ve previously had a successful donation, you may be eligible to donate up to age 35.
- Your body mass index (BMI) must be between 20 and 30.
- You cannot be using tobacco, nicotine, or drugs.
It’s safe for donors to have one drink of alcohol per day before beginning the donation process, in line with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control. A donor should not consume alcohol immediately before donation or during the stimulation cycle.
The Screening Process
The process starts by talking with a donor nurse coordinator, who will begin the information gathering process. If you meet the age and health requirements, you will receive a longer, in-depth survey requesting additional medical information and insight into your personality to get to know you better. For example, there might be questions about your strengths and hobbies. This allows the Duke Fertility Center to create a fuller profile of who you are as a person.
After we evaluate your application, you may be contacted to schedule two separate appointments with our staff. The first is an in-person physical and pelvic exam. We’ll also draw blood to test for genetic disorders and infectious diseases. We may perform a Pap smear for cervical infectious disease testing.
A psychological screening will take place during the second appointment and includes an interview and written questionnaires. The results of the physical exam and psychological evaluation will determine if you’re a good match for egg donation, at which point you’ll be entered into our donor registry.
Our team of fertility experts see people at the Duke Fertility Center in Durham.
What to Know About Egg Donation
Donating is a safe process. If you choose to donate, you will still be able to have children of your own. According to peer-reviewed medical research by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, there is no link between egg donation and infertility, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or any other diseases. Egg retrieval is a minimally invasive procedure with medication to block pain.
Issues with Hormone Injections
Hormone injections used to stimulate egg production may cause soreness at the injection site. The hormones may cause fatigue, cramping, mood swings, temporary water weight gain, or headaches. On rare occasions, women may temporarily develop ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) which can cause a temporary shift in fluid levels in your ovaries, abdominal pain, and a general feeling of illness. Sometimes these symptoms go away on their own. The most severe cases require a hospital visit to drain fluid.
You’ll receive a hormone injection that greatly reduces the potential for OHSS but does not eliminate it entirely. During your initial visit, your providers will talk to you about OHSS and other potential complications.
Getting Pregnant After Egg Donation
Donating won’t negatively impact your production of eggs in the future or prevent you from having children of your own. Because it won’t affect your egg production and you will not run out of eggs, you can donate up to six times in your life.
Additional Insurance Coverage
As an added layer of security, egg recipients provide donors with medical insurance coverage that covers egg cycle-related complications. This includes your exams and any medical treatment related only to your donation and that take place immediately before, during, and after the donation. This coverage is complementary in addition to any insurance you may already have and lasts throughout the donation process and three months after you donate. You won’t need to change or discontinue your own insurance if you have it -- this additional coverage is provided at no cost to you. It cannot be used for other kinds of appointments or treatments.
Duke Fertility Center staff will file all necessary paperwork on your behalf and ensure you’re covered. Our team will provide you with a special insurance card that can be used for medical coverage during and after the donation process.
There is no timeline for how long you may wait between completing all your screenings and when an ideal match is made with a potential recipient. Matches are based on the preference of the recipient with guidance from Duke providers. The donation process doesn’t begin until there’s a match.
With the rise of publicly available genetic testing, lifelong, completely anonymous donation is difficult. However, we will not share your name or contact information with the egg recipient or future children unless you authorize it. When a match is made, you and/or the recipient can choose to remain anonymous during and after donation. Our goal is to respect your privacy as well as support you and the recipient family with common informational needs. A full explanation of the latest laws and practices around de-identifying information is provided in the donor consent form. We will also discuss this topic with you in depth during the screening process.
Donor Sibling Registry
You may consider being part of the Donor Sibling Registry, a non-profit organization that provides donors and recipients a way to communicate anonymously. This can be helpful if you or the egg recipient have any questions after the donation related to your health history. Joining the Donor Sibling Registry is optional.
Duke University Hospital is proud of our team and the exceptional care they provide. They are why we are once again recognized as the best hospital in North Carolina, and nationally ranked in 11 adult and 9 pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report for 2021–2022.