An Egg Donor’s Medical Cycle

potential egg donor

The medical cycle for an egg donor and a surrogate or intended mother serves the dual purpose of simulating the body to create multiple eggs at once while also managing the timing of ovulation. The goal is to create a large number of viable eggs on the same schedule of the best days to conceive for the woman carrying the child or children. This can be completed in two ways: a donor banking process or fresh cycle.

 The Egg Donation Process for Donors 

  • What to Expect: Before beginning the medical procedures for an egg donation, egg donors in agency settings are extensively screened to make sure each woman is prepared for the journey ahead. Once accepted, the process can proceed.

In a fresh cycle, the first step is to sync the donor’s monthly ovulation cycle with the cycle of the person who will be carrying the embryo. This is typically done with birth control pills. A doctor will stop the donor or intended mother from ovulating on her own with Lupron. This drug is administered with a small needle into the stomach and is typically painless.

The doctor will prescribe a medication -Follistim, Gonal-F, Menopur or Repronex -to increase the number of follicles in the ovaries. These common drugs are administered via injection, in most cases subcutaneously. In rare cases, your doctor may want to inject these medications directly into a muscle, typically in the buttocks. Both methods are usually painless.

An injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) is the final step in the medical phase. This will trigger the body to ovulate all of the eggs that have been developing in the follicles. The donor will then schedule and complete the egg retrieval, a common practice that usually allows women to return to work on the day following her procedure. Although eggs will be taken out of the woman’s body, the procedure does not impact her future fertility.

  • Risks: An egg donor should make several doctor appointments during the three weeks that she is on medication. Each meeting will consist of a blood draw and ultrasound. In rare instances, a woman’s body may react negatively to the hormone medications, leading to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and ovarian torsion. This will be closely monitored, and medications may be adjusted to best accommodate each donor.

While on these medications, the donor will be extremely fertile. Engaging in sexual activity during this time highly increases the odds of accidental conception. In many cases, becoming pregnant while under contract and in a medical cycle can constitute a breach of contract and carry some financial penalties. Abstinence is recommended.

The Egg Donation Process for Surrogates or Intended Mothers

Birth control is usually used to have the egg donor and woman carrying the baby on the same menstrual cycle. However, if the intended mother cannot get on the same schedule as her donor, donor banking may be used before the fertilization and embryo transfer take place.

Once an embryo is transferred into the surrogate or intended mother, pregnancy proceeds as it would with any other type of pregnancy. There are no additional medical risks for the surrogate or intended mother carrying a baby conceived with another woman’s egg.

Ready to take the next step with Growing Generations? Check out our resource centers for egg donors and future parents and contact our team.

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for intended parents, surrogates and donors. She is the co-owner of Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019) as well as the children's book You Began as a Wish (Independent Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. She has two adult daughters.