Infertility is quite common. Fortunately, advances in infertility treatments have made achieving parenthood more attainable for everyone. In many cases, donated eggs are the key to successful pregnancy. Your donation would be a precious gift to those individuals whose only chance of conceiving is through the volunteer efforts of other women.
Some donors help save lives. Ours help create them.
-Dr. Valerie Baker, Director of the Johns Hopkins Fertility Center
If you are a healthy woman age 21 to 30, you may be able to help by anonymously donating eggs to a qualified infertile individual. Generous financial compensation is offered for this service. All donations are strictly confidential.
The decision to become an egg donor is a complex one. To help clarify the process of becoming an egg donor, we have compiled frequently asked questions below. For more information on becoming an egg donor, you can also call us at 410-847-3650 or email us at [email protected].
Frequently Asked Questions:
- Who would receive my eggs?
- Who are good candidates for becoming an egg donor?
- How do I become an egg donor?
- What is the egg collection process?
- How will I be compensated for my participation?
- Will I go through menopause early if I donate some of my eggs?
- How is my identity protected?
Who would receive my eggs?
Some women are infertile because they were born without ovaries, had their ovaries surgically removed or went through menopause at an early age. Many are capable of carrying a pregnancy without difficulty if they receive eggs from another woman. In addition, there are healthy women who are carriers of serious genetic conditions that could be passed on to their children if they use their own eggs. By receiving eggs from a woman who is not a carrier of an inherited disease, the risk of passing the disease to their children is eliminated.
There are also patients who require donated eggs because they have been found to have persistently poor egg quality during previous attempts at in vitro fertilization (IVF). Many of these women are in their late 30s or 40s; some have a history of endometriosis, a condition that can cause infertility. Their chances for pregnancy are significantly improved if they receive eggs donated by a younger individual who is not infertile.
Donated eggs are fertilized with the recipient’s partner’s sperm. Therefore, any babies that may result from this treatment would carry the genetic material of the father but not of the recipient mother.
Who are candidates for egg donation?
The Johns Hopkins Fertility Center invites healthy women between the ages of 21 and 31 to participate in this program. The donor must be within 20 pounds of her ideal body weight, a non-smoker and free of any significant medical illnesses.
She must undergo screening for inheritable diseases by completing a family history form. In addition, we routinely perform screening tests for syphilis, hepatitis A, B, and C, HIV (AIDS), gonorrhea and chlamydia.
The egg donor will meet with our team of psychologists to review the psychological aspects of egg donation and will complete a psychological evaluation. The screening of each potential egg donor is expensive and time consuming; therefore, we want to ensure that every woman who is interested in becoming an egg donor is aware of the time commitment, benefits and potential complications before we actually begin performing the process.
Our team is happy to answer any questions that you may have by telephone (410-847-3650) or in person in order to help you make an informed decision. Nothing is more devastating to our infertile patients than having an egg donor withdraw from participation after she has completed screening and been matched to a recipient couple.
How do I become an egg donor?
Women interested in becoming an egg donor are asked to complete a family medical history form and submit a recent photograph for our files. Once your completed questionnaire is received, one of the physicians in the IVF program will review it. If approved, we will contact you to set up a consultation with one of the physicians to complete your screening.
You will come to the Fertility Center’s offices at Green Spring Station to meet with our team. The medication schedule and egg collection process will be explained to you, and any questions you may have will be answered. A physical exam, cervical cultures and blood testing will be performed at that time. This process usually takes about one hour to complete.
After the results of the cultures and blood tests come back, an appointment will be made for the computerized psychological testing (MMPT-2). Once the results of the preliminary studies are in, you will be scheduled for a session with the team psychologist for a psychological evaluation and to discuss the psychological aspects of being an egg donor. This session should last approximately one hour.
Once these evaluations are completed, you will be asked to come to the office for our injection teaching class. The medications you will be using to stimulate the development of multiple eggs can only be received by injection. You can bring someone with you who will be giving you the injections, if so desired. If you have concerns or second thoughts about being an egg donor at any time during the process, please contact someone in our office. We are happy to address any questions or concerns that you may have.
What is the egg collection process?
The eggs develop inside fluid-filled cysts called follicles. The mature eggs will be removed from your ovaries by using ultrasound to guide a needle through the vaginal wall directly into these cysts. The fluid from the cysts is aspirated through the needle to collect the eggs using suction. The needle is only slightly larger in diameter than the needle used to draw blood from your arm.
We try to aspirate all the follicles in both ovaries and collect an egg from each follicle. The actual egg collection process takes approximately 30–45 minutes (depending upon the number of follicles) and is performed in the operating room.
What happens on the day of egg retrieval?
You will need to come to the operating room area two hours before the scheduled time of egg collection. Please do not eat or drink anything after midnight the evening prior to the procedure. Please do not chew gum the morning of your retrieval.
Immediately prior to beginning the egg retrieval, the anesthesiologist will give you medicine through an IV to induce sleep. You will be breathing on your own with supplemental oxygen.
After the egg retrieval is completed, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation over a one- to two-hour period. You will then be released to go home. Since you received anesthesia, someone will be required to drive you home.
You should be able to return to work the next day. We ask that you abstain from vaginal intercourse from a period of three days before to a period of four days after the egg retrieval. You will need to use a barrier contraceptive method such as condoms or a diaphragm until you get your period. After that, you may resume your current method of birth control.
How will I be compensated for my participation?
Johns Hopkins will financially compensate you for your time during the egg donation process. You will receive a check two weeks after the egg collection.
Will I go through menopause early if I donate some of my eggs?
No. The ovaries contain approximately 400,000–500,000 eggs at the time of puberty. Only 400–500 of these will develop to the point of ovulation during the course of the woman’s childbearing years. The remaining 399,500 eggs undergo a process called atresia. This means that they fail to mature and are gradually absorbed by the body between puberty and menopause.
Because of the large number of these “spare” eggs, there is no evidence to suggest that the use of fertility medications or egg donation will decrease the egg reserves in such a manner as to lead to premature menopause.
How is my identity protected?
You will be assigned a code number known only by the members of our team. All blood studies and cervical cultures will be processed under this number rather than your name. The surgical record will also list this number rather than your name. All records are kept in a locked file cabinet.
The couple receiving your eggs signs a consent form stating that they understand that the egg donation is anonymous, and it will not be possible for them or any children born as a result of this therapy to contact you in the future. During the selection process, the recipient couple will be given general information regarding your height, weight, complexion, ethnicity and family medical history.