The Egg Donor Experience: After Donation

October 6th, 2017
After becoming an egg donor

When something important is happening in life, it’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of day to day activities. After the hustle and bustle ends, we often find ourselves reflecting on what’s just occurred. 

The egg donation process fits squarely into this idea. 

The donor experience is one that consists of busy schedules, doctor’s appointments, and trips to the pharmacy. Once the eggs are collected and stored through a networking facility like Donor Egg Bank USA, you will likely contemplate the last few months and sacrifices you’ve made. Amid medical jargon and self-administered injections, it’s easy to lose track of the final goal. In fact, when it is all said and done, your physical and emotional responses to the experience might surprise you.

Taking care of yourself throughout the process is key to handling these reactions… how to go about doing this, however, will differ from woman to woman.

Physical Side Effects of Egg Donation 

Directly following the egg retrieval surgery, one of the primary concerns should be dealing with potential physical side effects. 

Being aware of how you physically feel post-surgery is an essential first step in taking care of yourself. While recovery looks different for everyone, most patients have mild discomfort the day of surgery, but feel well enough to return to work the next day. 

However, there are some risks that extend beyond mild discomfort. One of the concerns post retrieval is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  Your physician will be monitoring you for this throughout the stimulation phase of your cycle, but you are still at risk for developing it once your egg retrieval is complete. It is commonly believed that the high level of HCG introduced into your system during the retrieval process can cause a dilation of ovarian blood vessels, which sometimes results in the swelling and leakage of fluid, leading to OHSS after an egg retrieval.

Since this is a possible side effect of egg donation, it’s vital that you understand the symptoms. Be on the lookout for any of the following conditions:

• Severe abdominal pain and cramping

• Bloating

• Nausea and vomiting

• Diarrhea

• Sudden weight gain

Don’t delay reporting any of the above to your physician as soon as you notice them. Physicians are successful in managing OHSS, but catching its development early on allows for an easier recovery.  

Aside from a risk of developing OHSS, the most common complaints are minor such as abdominal pain, light bleeding, and/or constipation.

The best piece of advice post retrieval: take plenty of rest, assess your body’s physical reactions, and report on any concerns to your physician immediately. These are essential to your well-being.

Understanding the Emotional Side of Egg Donation

Whether you’ve chosen to donate your eggs as a means of paying for school, or perhaps you were compelled by a personal connection to those struggling with infertility, it’s important to remember one thing:

You have just taken one of the most selfless and beautiful actions possible for a woman to do.

You endured a complicated and trying experience so another couple can understand what it means to have a child. You provided the second chance many men and women have been yearning for, and you are forever a part of their happily ever after.

You should also know that it’s okay to be sad. 

There is no rule book that describes the emotions you may, or may not, feel after you’ve donated your eggs. A combination of happiness, pride, nervousness, and grief are common amongst egg donors.

Despite the beauty in your decision, there is still the reality of what has occurred. You will forever face the fact that you could have a biological connection somewhere in the world. Taking the time to reach contentment in this possibility is not something that happens overnight, in a week, or maybe even in a month.

Allowing yourself to work through each of these emotions is not only recommended, but a fundamental part of the process. Attempting to swallow down your fears and hesitations only makes the experience more difficult.

When these feelings seem overwhelming, however, reflect on the gratitude that will one day belong to you. Imagine the couple who receives your eggs - the joy they feel when they finally see the positive pregnancy test they’ve been hoping for; the awe a mother feels as she experiences those first kicks within her belly; and, most importantly, the appreciation they hold for you during so many moments of their child’s life. 

Understanding Your Rights 

Before starting the donor egg process, you are required to sign certain contracts discussing various items, such as the risks involved in donating and your legal rights to any eggs retrieved during your surgery.

It’s important donors realize they are giving up legal claim to the eggs collected during this procedure. Recipients also sign a contract ensuring that they cannot hold you responsible for any children born from those eggs. 

These contracts help ensure the child is protected from legal ramifications between the egg donor and parents. It also helps protect the anonymity for both parties if that is preferred. 

Anonymity, however, can be a gray area and with the internet and companies like 23 and me, it’s possible the donor-conceived child will learn your identity.  

Before proceeding with a donor egg cycle, it’s necessary to consider the role you would like to take in a child’s life that may be born using your eggs. Most donors and recipients prefer not to have any sort of connection and that’s completely fine.

Other women, however, feel they want the opportunity to have a relationship with the child, especially if that child shows an interest in learning about their biological connections. Being upfront about your wishes in regards to the family that receives your eggs helps ensure that you are matched with couples who share similar wants or a willingness to cooperate.

Your Life After Egg Donation

Donating your eggs is not an easy experience. 

It’s a stressful situation that takes a physical and emotional toll. The positives, however, far outweigh the negatives.

Remembering, first and foremost, what brought you to this decision is a beneficial way to get past many of the hardships. At the point in your life when you turned to egg donation, there was a need. That need could be fulfilled through a selfless action that makes a world of difference to someone else.

The strength to go through this challenging experience for the sake of someone else’s happiness is something you can reflect proudly on forever. 

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