Fact – Egg Donation does not cause Infertility

It’s one of the biggest and most harmful misconceptions about egg donation… One commonly cited by egg donation naysayers.

 

We’re talking about The Myth: That egg donation causes infertility.

 

The main takeaway is this: There are no studies that prove a link between egg donation and infertility later in life. One of the most common “sub-myths” is that donating egg puts a donor at risk of running out of her own eggs.

In order to unpack this, we need to take a step back. Yes, it’s true that women are born with a finite number of eggs – but that number is estimated at around two million! While young girls lose a lot of eggs a lot more quickly (ending up with around 400 000 potential eggs at puberty), with each menstrual cycle, between 15 and 20 eggs begin maturing for ovulation. However, usually one “Superstar Egg” is released for ovulation (the one that has the best chance of being fertilized), while the remaining dozen or so are flushed out of your system. What fertility medication does is to fully develop those remaining eggs for retrieval – the ones your body was going to ditch anyway. Long story short? During an egg donation cycle, you’re not losing more eggs than you were going to naturally! Of course, there are a few horror stories online of women who have suffered extreme complications during their egg donations, that have had an impact on their future fertility.

 

(WARNING: We’re about to get serious.)

As with every medical procedure – from a visit to the dentist to having your appendix taken out – there are some risks – which we always be upfront about. But these are very, very rare.

With every surgery, there is a chance of infection. Many clinics will give you a shot of an antibiotic while you’re under to mitigate this risk, but if you start feeling feverish or unwell, give us or the clinic a call straight away to have it sorted out!

There is also a risk of something called “ovarian torsion” – and yes, it’s as painful as it sounds! Basically, after your retrieval and when your ovaries are a little grumpy, there is a (miniscule) chance that the ovary can twist in on itself and cut off blood supply to the ovary, causing severe pain and requiring surgery. If left untreated, that lack of blood flow could result in tissue death.

 

(We told you this was going to get serious!)

But studies have put the risk of ovarian torsion at between 0.1% and 0.2% – although donors are asked to take it easy after their donation and avoid strenuous exercise, heavy lifting and activities like horseback riding for a week or two after their donations.

And so there you have it! No, you won’t run out of eggs – and the risks are super low! If you have any questions or concerns, give us a shout. We’re always on hand to listen.

What to expect on retrieval day

So, the big day has finally arrived! The doctor is thrilled with how your ovaries are looking,

you’ve finished all of your injections, fasted for a few hours, and you’re ready to go. It’s retrieval day.

While you should have been able to fit your appointments in around work or classes, you absolutely must take the day off on egg retrieval day. While you’ll only be in the clinic for around three hours, you need to factor in some time to recover from the anaesthetic (you might still be quite groggy), and REST. Make sure you’re stocked up at home with snacks and drinks and painkillers, just in case – as well as a good series to watch on Netflix!

 

When you arrive at the clinic (usually sometime between 7am and noon – most retrievals are scheduled in the morning), you’ll be checked over by an anaesthetist and a nurse to make sure that everything’s looking OK, before you’re asked to change into the lovely flattering hospital gown.

By this time you’ll have been in and around the clinic so often that you’ll recognise friendly faces – so if you’re feeling nervous or have any questions, don’t be shy! When it’s time to get started, someone will walk you into the procedure room to get you settled on the bed and ready to go.

 

You will have been asked to fast for a few hours before you undergo anaesthetic, which is referred to as “twilight” anaesthesia. The anaesthetist will insert a cannula to administer the anaesthetic, and you’ll be asked to count backwards from 10. You’ll be out before you know it!

While you’re out, your eggs will be retrieved by a process known as “ultrasound directed needle aspiration”. A needle is passed through the top wall of your vagina, guided by ultrasound, into the ovaries and then the follicles to get at the eggs. The eggs are then ‘sucked’ in through an aspiration needle and safely retrieved. The amazing thing? This process takes less than 30 minutes! That’s much shorter than an episode of Game of Thrones!

 

Then you’re wheeled into the recovery room where you’ll wake up shortly after your retrieval is done. You’ll probably feel a bit groggy and disoriented, or maybe even a little nauseated. This is all normal! A nurse will come to check in on you and, when you’re ready, give you something small to eat and drink, and painkillers if you need any. They will also check your blood pressure a few times. When they’re happy that you’re recovered enough to leave, it’s time to head home. Your Donor Coordinator will liaise with you to see how you’re getting on and also ensure your donor compensation is paid to you.

You must have someone there to leave the clinic with you – most clinics don’t allow you to leave on your own – even though you might ‘feel fine’.

 

When you get home, it’s time to take it easy. It’s time for you to nap, to snack, to bond with a new Netflix series. This is the perfect excuse for a real day off!

You might experience some spotting and some cramping after the retrieval (again, totally normal, and hot water bottles and pads are great to have on hand), but give the clinic a call if you experience any ‘scary’ or unusual pain or bleeding. Don’t be a hero!

 

You should be fine to return to work or classes the day after your retrieval, but every woman is different, so listen to your body. If you don’t feel up to it, rather take another day off and rest. Be kind to yourself – you have just done an incredible thing, you can afford to put your feet up!

If you have any further questions, give us a shout! One of our fabulous Nurture girls will be on hand to answer any and all questions.