An Egg Donor’s Medical Cycle

The medical cycle for an egg donor or intended mother (IM) serves two purposes: it stimulates the body to create multiple eggs at once and manages the timing of ovulation. The goal is to create a large number of viable eggs on the same schedule of the surrogate’s best days to conceive.

The first step is to sync the donors monthly cycle with the cycle of the person who will be carrying the embryo.  This is typically done with birth control pills. Next the doctor will stop the donor or intended mother from ovulating on her own. A drug called Lupron is typically administered painlessly with a small needle into the stomach.

The doctor will also put the donor or IM on medications used to increase the number of follicles in the ovaries. Common drugs prescribed for this include Follistim, Gonal-F, Menopur or Repronex. These medications are also administered via injection, in most cases subcutaneously. In rare cases the doctor may want to inject these medications directly into a muscle, typically in the buttocks. Both methods of administration are usually painless.

The last step in the medical phase consists of an injection of HCG. This will trigger the body to ovulate all of the eggs that have been developing in those follicles.  Next the donor will schedule and complete the egg retrieval.

While on these medications the donor will be extremely fertile. Engaging in sexual activity during this time is particularly dangerous, as the odds of accidental conception are quite high. This is why we strongly recommend abstinence for donors during their med cycles. In many cases, becoming pregnant while under contracts and in medical cycle can constitute a breach of contract and carry some penalties for the donor.

An egg donor will have several doctor appointments during the three weeks that she is on medication. These appointments, calling monitoring appointments, will help doctors make sure that the donor’s body is responding appropriately to the medications. Each appointment will consist of a blood drawl and an ultrasound. Occasionally medication dosages may be changed depending on the results of the bloodwork and ultrasound.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 22 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for the last 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 Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, the American Fertility Association, 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 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 created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 28 years and their two teenage daughters.