There’s (almost always) no time like the present… And the same holds true for egg donation.
Nurture UK donors are required to be between the ages of 19 and 35 – and there’s a very good reason for this age limit!
A woman is born with a set amount of potential eggs – around 2 million. Each month, our body preps a certain amount of these egg follicles for ovulation (estimated by doctors to be upwards of 1000 per month) – but (usually) only one egg takes centre stage and is released from the ovary.
This egg is the superstar of that month’s batch – basically the Beyonce of your ovaries. It’s the one that the body decides has the best chance of being fertilised, becoming an embryo and then a happy, healthy baby.
The rest of the unused follicles are reabsorbed by the body and lost – unless you give them a boost with fertility medications to help bring them to maturity.
However, as you age, two things start to happen: The number of follicles that your body loses each month accelerates, and the body’s stockpile of superstar eggs starts to decline.
That essentially means that a woman loses more eggs each month and has a higher chance of releasing an egg that is chromosomally abnormal – which could cause things such as Down syndrome or Cystic Fibrosis.
Starting around age 32, a woman’s chances of falling pregnant each month start to decline. And, at age 35, that monthly decline starts becoming steeper. That doesn’t mean that as soon as you pop the bubbly on your 35th birthday you won’t be able to get pregnant – just that it won’t necessarily be as ‘easy’ as it could have been in your 20s.
(This is where we remind you again that fertility is different for every woman, every time!)
In a nutshell, you’ll be producing the highest number of ‘quality’ eggs before you’re 32 – which is music to ears of the intended parents looking for a donor!
So, what are you waiting for?
As a potential Nurture UK donor, we know that you can’t wait to help fulfill someone’s dream of becoming a parent.
You’ve finished your (very lengthy) application and your profile has been added to the database for the recipients to choose from. But, you wonder as you click ‘submit’, HOW do people choose an egg donor? And how can you make sure that they choose YOU?
For many recipients, egg donation is a step in what is often a long, difficult journey to parenthood. Many of Nurture UK’s recipients have endured years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, and the decision to use an egg donor is not always an easy one.
But what does a recipient look for in their donor? Honestly, it’s different for every single one.
Their decisions are often based on your answers to the questions in your profile questionnaire, and on the oh-so-adorable pics you share with Nurture UK.
Recipients might look for a donor who could look like them. Things like eye colour, hair colour and height might be important – if the recipient is a short, blonde woman with green eyes, she might look for someone who could resemble her.
For other recipients, physical characteristics aren’t really a consideration at all. They look for women who share similar interests and hold similar values – basically, someone they could see themselves being friends with.
Do you like running? Play guitar? Does curling up with a good book sound like the best Friday night you could imagine? Do you love cooking? Often, it’s how your personality shines through in your profile that helps a recipient to decide on you – so let your flag fly!
And for some people, all they want to know is that their donor is healthy and (probably) not a serial killer.
Sound like a lot? While we’re taking care of our donors, we’re also helping to work some matchmaking magic behind the scenes to make sure our recipients find the perfect match for them!
So how do you make sure that someone chooses you?
Simply put: This is absolutely not the time to be shy or modest. Be honest, be open, be thorough… Be unapologetically YOU!
And, pick AMAZING pictures of yourself.
One of the biggest misconceptions about egg donors is that they are only in it to make some quick cash –
but after well over 10 years in the business and over 2400 donor cycles, we can comfortably say that it’s simply not true!
Most of Nurture UK’s donors sign up to donate not because of the money, but because they want to do something incredible for another person – and that’s what makes them superwomen.
But yes, let’s talk about the money.
UK egg donors are compensated after their donation – an amount that is, by law, limited to £750 No more, no less.
If that number is making your head spin and you’ve already counted how many pairs of shoes you could buy with that, sit back and take a few deep breaths. Becoming an egg donor takes time, effort, and commitment. It is by no means a ‘quick buck’.
You will need to travel to and from appointments with your doctors, inject yourselves with fertility medications, and take a day off work for the egg retrieval.
(Side note: You will need to make sure that you have enough money available to get yourself to and from the clinic for your appointments and retrieval. You won’t receive any money upfront, so no Uber Black for you!)
Remember: You’re not selling your eggs, and no matter how many happy, healthy eggs are retrieved on the day of your donation, you will receive the same amount from the clinic that handles your donation. You are being rewarded for your time, effort and dedication – not your eggs!
Much like trying to find the perfect date,
choosing the right egg donation agency for you is a critical step in your journey.
If it’s not the right fit, the experience is going to be long, drawn-out and painful. But, if you’ve made the right choice and found the perfect partner, it’ll be a dream – and possibly even life-changing!
So here are some things to look for in choosing the right egg donation agency for you.
What’s their track record?
Let’s face it, as soon as you meet someone new, you head straight on to your phone to find their Instagram profile and learn as much as Google will allow you to. If the cutie at the bar looks dodgy online, you’ll be deleting that number, right?
It should be the same for choosing an egg donation agency. Try to find out as much as you can about the agency – from how long they’ve been in operation, to who their employees are. Has the agency ever been in the news? Do they have real references from real donors? Do they mention some of the fertility clinics that they’ve worked with?
Of course, if you can’t find any information on the agency you’re interested in, that should be a major red flag!
Do they play by the rules?
Egg donation agencies should follow the guidelines and ethics outlined by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: HFEA
Nurture UK adheres to all guidelines and ethics outlined by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: HFEA, and we will always put the health and wellness of our donors first.
Can you get in touch easily?
You should never have to work hard to find the right people to contact, and the people that you do get in touch with should be compassionate, professional, and easy to talk to! As with dating, chemistry is always important. If you don’t ‘click’ with your agency, it’s time to move on.
And because no one likes staring at their phone waiting for a reply… It’s important to us that our donors feel supported and loved from the start. We’ve been known to answer emails at 2am and reply to WhatsApp messages at all hours!
Do you get all the information you need, upfront?
One of the HFEA guidelines states that egg donors must be fully informed about the process, including the potential risks and side effects. If you ever feel like the agency is dodging questions or not answering them properly, take that as a red flag. You shouldn’t have to drag answers out of them – you have a right to be fully informed at all stages. And remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question!
Luckily for you, here at Nurture UK we’re chronic over-sharers.
Trust your gut
At the end of the day, YOU are the one that needs to make the decision on which agency to donate with. So, the biggest piece of advice that we have for you is to trust your gut.
If at any stage of your research for an egg donation agency you get a funny feeling about the agency or the people you will be working with, rather let them know that you have chosen not to go with their agency.
- Pick Nurture UK. We’ve been in the business for over ten years and counting, and are positively fabulous. 🙂
So, you’re getting ready for your first-ever egg donation – exciting times!
By now you’ll have met with one of our fab Nurture UK women, been matched and are getting ready to go. Here are a few extra tips from a former donor for making your first donation a stellar experience.
Never be afraid to ask questions during the donation process. If something interests you, ask. If something worries you, definitely ask! If you’re not sure, or are sure and just want to make extra sure, then ask! There’s no such thing as a stupid question. This is an awesome opportunity to learn about some rad science, and your own health and fertility – so take it!
There are some quick (and cheap and easy) fixes to make sure you stay healthy when you’re getting ready to donate – and help make beautiful eggs for your recipient! Pop to the chemist to find some folic acid (which will boost your egg quality AND make your hair and skin look awesome, total no-brainer) and some good old-fashioned multivitamins. Choose more fresh fruit and veg and fewer processed foods. And (deep breath) – cut back on the alcohol and cigarettes. But especially the cigarettes – smoking has a major impact on your egg quality.
Staying hydrated is important to promote circulation throughout the egg donation process. Drink as much water as you can, choose fluids with electrolytes, and cut down on anything that can dehydrate you.
Let yourself take time off to rest and relax both before your donation, and after! Try to make sure that you’re not scheduling your egg retrievals for times that you know will be stressful for you, and that you take the opportunities to meditate, nap, or bond with your couch and your new favourite series!
Journal and take photos
This is an amazing experience that you’re on – and it has the potential to be life-changing for you. Write in your journal, make notes on your phone and take a million photos. That way, when you’re old and grey and looking back at your life, you can remember all the small details.
In your quest to become a well-informed egg donor, you’ve no doubt
encountered one or more misconceptions around the process that may have you a bit concerned.
Fear not, we’re here to talk through some of the most common ones – so grab a cup of coffee, kick back and relax while we bust some major egg donation myths!
Donating my eggs will hurt my chances of having a baby
Contrary to (somehow) popular belief, women don’t just make one egg per month. In fact, we’re born with about two MILLION potential eggs!
Each month after we hit puberty, batches of those potential eggs are called up – with (usually) just one making it all the way to maturity and ovulation.
The rest of the potential eggs in those batches are like the runners-up on Idols. Still fantastic, but not The One – so your body gets rid of them. What fertility meds do is help to “rescue” these eggs and give them a purpose – encouraging your body to mature those eggs that were headed for the drain.
Long story short? Egg donation doesn’t tap into any reserves that weren’t going to be wasted by your body, anyway.
Donors sell their eggs for a quick buck
Woah! There are a few things in here for us to unpack.
First things first, a donor doesn’t “sell” her eggs. The amount paid to all UK donors – which is currently £750 – is compensation for her time and the effort of travelling to appointments, taking off work, and injecting herself with the various prescribed medications.
That also means that a donor will receive the same amount no matter how many eggs are collected on retrieval day – whether it’s five or 15.
More importantly, while a few donors may be initially attracted by the prospect of some extra cash, most of the time they’re also committed to helping would-be parents fulfil their dream of having a baby.
And that’s something money can’t buy!
Egg donation is dangerous
Look, we’ll level with you – any medical procedure comes with some risk. But at Nurture, we work with only the very best clinics and doctors to make sure that you’re cared for every single step of the way.
The primary risk is something called Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome, which is still super rare! It’s caused by your ovary producing too many eggs in response to your injections – which is just one of the reasons you’ll be going for regular scans. Our docs will be able to pick up anything dodgy on the scans and adjust your meds accordingly.
If you do get OHSS, it’ll usually be a day or two after your retrieval, and you’ll know about it! You may experience severe bloating, pain and nausea. Don’t be a hero – call us straight away! Usually you’ll just be put on bed rest while your ovaries calm down, but that’s the doctor’s call.
The great news is that in South Africa we use a medical trigger protocol involving the use of a drug called Lupron, which pretty much totally removes the risk of OHSS – hurrah!
And as with every medical procedure – from a dentist’s appointment to a knee op – there’s also a small risk of infection, but most clinics will give you a shot of an antibiotic to reduce that risk.
Donating my eggs will hurt
You’ll have figured by now that we believe that honesty is the best policy. So, while we would love to say that it absolutely won’t hurt, it’s different for every woman. Some may be up and about straight away with not a care in the world, while others experience more discomfort than others.
However, it shouldn’t be excruciating pain!
Firstly: Yes, there are injections. About one a day for two weeks. But the sisters at the clinic will show you how to inject yourself so that you don’t really feel it, and after the first few days you’ll have it totally in your stride! (Spoiler alert: Bruises are normal while you’re learning this new skill. Wear them with pride!)
The hormone medication can make you a bit uncomfortable – you could have sore boobs, some bloating, some cramping, some headaches, or… Nothing at all!
During the procedure, you’ll be put under a mild anaesthetic and won’t feel a thing. When you wake up, you might be a bit “crampy” and sore, but much like with period pain, a hot water bottle and some pain killers will have you sorted. You have our full permission to spend the day on the couch bingeing on Netflix and napping.
But remember, feel free to ask your doctors, nurses and Nurture BFFs any and all questions at any stage of the process! Our goal is to make you feel informed, empowered and – dare we say it – loved!