Egg donation still causes uncertainty, both in donors and in recipients. Regardless, in recent years, the number of egg donors is increasing, giving hope to couples who can’t conceive on their own.
The Journal of American Medical Association recently published encouraging statistics. During the first decade of the 21st century, the number of egg donors increased by over 70%. Therefore, egg donation has indeed become more popular, thus raising hopes of many couples. However, there’s still quite a bit of confusion surrounding egg donation.
The FDA has strict rules and regulations when it comes to all types of donations. Egg donations are no exception. Potential egg donors have to go through extensive testing. They also go through DNA, physical, and psychological screening.
Unfortunately, a lot of women go through the testing only to realize they aren’t eligible for donation. The reason for that, for the most part, is lack of information. That’s why today we’re answering some common questions about egg donation.
1. Can I become an egg donor if I have PCOS?
The short answer would be – no. Women with PCOS usually aren’t eligible to donate their eggs. However, there are some exceptions. PCOS patients can donate eggs to their sisters and other relatives. If the intended mother wishes to maintain a genetic link to the future child, they usually choose a close relative for egg donation.
PCOS usually causes issues with menstrual cycles. Therefore, if a PCOS patient were to donate eggs, that would require thorough planning and monitoring.
One of the steps of IVF is ovarian stimulation treatment. Women with PCOS are more likely to develop OHSS (i.e. ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome) due to the stimulation. It can cause symptoms such as swollen and painful ovaries, rapid weight gain, abdominal pains, shortness of breath etc. Thus, in many cases, women with PCOS aren’t eligible for egg donation.
2. Can I donate eggs if I have herpes?
Yes, you can still donate your eggs, even if you have been treated for an STD in the past. However, doctors probably won’t start you on a cycle if you’re having an active herpes outbreak.
Nonetheless, if your test only shows antibodies of herpes or HPV, you can still go through with the donation. That’s because herpes and HPV aren’t transmittable through egg donation. Other diseases that are transmittable via an egg, such as Hepatitis B and C and syphilis, rend you ineligible for donation.
3. Can women who are diagnosed with depression donate eggs?
Women who have been diagnosed with depression and are taking antidepressants cannot donate their eggs. Due to the extensive psychological screening that the FDA requires all donors to partake in, depression usually doesn’t go unnoticed. Therefore, many women with depression are turned away.
Because the process of egg donation includes injections of hormones, it can cause contraindications with antidepressants. Furthermore, women with depression are often disqualified as egg donors due to the fact that depression can be hereditary.
4. Can I become an egg donor if I smoke?
No, women who smoke can’t donate their eggs. This is due to the fact that smoking can cause a decrease in natural fertility. Furthermore, it can cause additional health issues. Both the donor and the egg are under risk if the donor is a smoker.
Women who smoke have more difficulty conceiving naturally. Their bodies don’t produce as much FSH as do the bodies of women who don’t smoke. Furthermore, they often enter menopause earlier. These facts discourage egg donation.
To become an egg donor, you must be a non-smoker for at least six months.
5. Can I donate eggs if I am overweight?
Weight issues will disqualify you as an egg donor. Whether you are overweight or underweight, in most cases you would be excluded. Weight issues decrease natural fertility. Furthermore, they can cause a whole plethora of issues for the egg donor. Consequently, that can affect the quality and the number of eggs retrieved.
Overweight women have more fat tissue or adipose tissue. This tissue produces hormones such as cytokines, that can cause swelling and inflammation. That can impact egg development and render the egg retrieval ineffective.
Furthermore, adipose tissue produces hormones that can negatively affect the ovarian secretion of estradiol and progesterone. As you know, these hormones are vital for fertility and egg development.
6. Does breastfeeding make me ineligible for egg donation?
You cannot donate your eggs if you are breastfeeding. The medications and the hormone-heavy treatment that goes into IVF egg donation aren’t compatible with breastfeeding. The drugs and hormones pass through the breastmilk onto the baby. Therefore, you can donate your eggs if you just had a baby, but not if you’re still breastfeeding.
7. Can I become an egg donor if I have an IUD?
Yes, you can donate if you have an intrauterine device. If you have a slow-release hormonal IUD, the doctors will have to remove it prior to the hormone treatment. If your ovarian assessment, the vital part of the medical screening for egg donation, comes back with low numbers, you may have to wait and have two normal menstrual cycles until you can start the donation process.
Women who have a non-hormonal IUD can become egg donors immediately. Non-hormonal IUDs don’t release any hormones. Therefore, they won’t counter the FSH treatment. Furthermore, non-hormonal devices can stay in place during the treatment.
8. Can I donate eggs if I had my tubes tied?
A tubal ligation does not affect the ovarian production of eggs. Therefore, women who had their tubes tied can become egg donors.
Women often think that a tubal ligation renders them ineligible for a donation. However, the retrieval of the egg is done directly through the follicles. Therefore, the state of the tubes is not important, as the egg won’t be released into the body.
9. Can I be on birth control and still be eligible for egg donation?
Yes, you can. Birth control will not affect your status as a donor. You can continue to use all forms of non-hormonal birth control during the egg donation process. Furthermore, birth control pills, patches, and rings are also allowed. Only the hormonal IUDs need to be taken out before you start with the procedure of donating your eggs.
10. Can women who are 18 years old donate eggs?
No. The age limit for egg donation is 21. This restriction is in place to ensure the quality and the number of eggs. Donors who are too young don’t meet the fundamental psychological and physical requirements of egg donation.
Furthermore, the necessary levels of maturity and the sense of responsibility aren’t met at such a young age. Usually, the youngest age for egg donation is 21.
Egg donation is a wonderful way to help someone start a family. It’s a way to bring joy and happiness to many deprived couples. However, make sure that you are mentally and physically ready for it as it is an involved process. Furthermore, make sure that you’re eligible to be an egg donor. Not everyone can offer such immense help to others.