How Many Eggs Do I Donate?
When you first start thinking about being an egg donor, it’s totally normal to have a lot of questions. Egg donation isn’t something that’s talked about a lot, and when it does show up in the media or in pop culture, the details are sometimes pretty sketchy. As a result, there are quite a few myths and mysteries around this topic. We’re here to help clear things up.
One of the most common questions we get is “How many eggs do you take?” Some potential donors are even under the impression that they might be signing up to give away ALL their eggs. Some think they’re only donating one. (Remember how Rebecca on My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend kept talking about donating “an egg”? That’s… not really how it works.) In reality, the exact number of eggs that are retrieved during a cycle is usually somewhere between 10 and 20.
Ovaries, follicles, and eggs: the facts.
The most important thing to know is that you don’t lose any more eggs in the egg donation process than you would in a natural cycle. Your ovarian reserve and future fertility are unaffected. We’ve written another post for you with all the scientific info behind this if you want to check it out in detail:
Every cycle, your ovary starts to mature 10 to 20 eggs in follicles, but usually only one of those eggs makes it all the way to ovulation. The rest are absorbed back into your body and disappear. If you’re donating your eggs, the fertility medications you’ll take will help your body mature most or all of those eggs. Then, instead of you ovulating and releasing an egg into your fallopian tubes, the doctor will retrieve the eggs while you’re under sedation, so that you can donate them to the waiting family. That’s the only difference. At the end of the cycle, you still have the same amount of eggs in reserve that you would have had even if you hadn’t donated.
You’re unique, and so are your eggs!
Every woman’s body is different, which is why no one can predict exactly how many eggs you’ll donate in your cycle. Egg donation isn’t a one-size fits all process. When you donate your eggs, the final number will depend on how many follicles your ovaries naturally produce each month, as well as how your body responded to the stimulation of the fertility medication. Several of the tests you take at the beginning of the donation process are used to help the doctor determine the right dose, so that you can donate as many mature eggs as possible from the developing follicles. The careful monitoring you receive during the stimulation cycle is used to keep an eye on your follicles and eggs to see how they’re maturing and decide when it’s time to retrieve them.
You can even donate more than once
Because donating your eggs doesn’t diminish your ovarian reserve, it’s completely safe to donate more than one time. In fact, you can donate up to six times! There are a couple of reasons that the number of donations is capped at six:
- Your health
Egg donation is a very safe process, and the American Society of Reproductive Medicine has found that there is no reason to believe that it can cause long-term negative health effects. That’s great news, but we also know that donating your eggs is a big commitment, both physically and mentally. After six rounds of fertility medication and egg retrieval procedures, your body deserves a rest.
- Limiting the number of related donor-conceived babies
Depending on how many viable embryos result from an egg donation, a family could end up having several children using the same eggs. When you multiply that by several families, the number of babies who share the same donor’s DNA can rise quickly. Limiting the number of donations to six helps minimize the chances that these children might run into each other in the future.
There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering egg donation, but there’s no reason to stress out about the number of eggs you’ll be giving away. If you have any worries or concerns, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask about it. There’s seriously no such thing as a dumb question when it comes to donating your eggs. We know it’s a big topic, and we know that it’s not always easy to find accurate information. That’s why we’re working to break the silence around egg donation, and bust the myths people have about what it’s like. When you’re weighing up a big act of generosity like this, the more knowledge you have, the better. It’s your body, and you deserve to know all the facts!