California IVF Fertility Center | 2590 Venture Oaks Way Ste 103, Sacramento CA 95833 | 530-771-0177

Thank you for your interest in becoming an Oocyte (egg) donor at California IVF.  The goal of our program is to provide eggs anonymously to women unable to produce quality eggs on their own.  Advanced reproductive age is one of the leading causes of infertility and may occur for many reasons.  Delayed child-bearing, radiation or chemotherapy therapy for cancer, autoimmune diseases, and surgical removal of the ovaries are a few of the causes of decreased egg quality.  Ovarian failure at an early age, also known as premature ovarian failure or ovarian insufficiency, is another common reason why women need to use eggs from an egg donor.  Donor oocytes provide couples with a chance of achieving a pregnancy that is up to 75% on the first attempt.  In most cases there are extra embryos that can be frozen and used in the future to further increase the chances of having a baby or subsequent babies from the same “batch” of embryos.

Apply to be an egg donor

Donating eggs will require a commitment of time and attention to details.  Couples with whom you may be matched will be investing a large amount of money for each cycle.  In addition to their financial investment, people become emotionally committed to their treatments.  It is extremely important that you are willing to complete the process once you start the testing and treatment process.  Please let us know if at any time you decide that you no longer wish to participate in this program, and your profile will be removed from the registry.  The whole process will require about 5-6 office visits.  You must be flexible with your schedule and the process may require that you miss school or work in order to make it to your required appointments.

Once you are given an introduction to the screening and treatment process, you will be entered into the pool of donors and given the opportunity to match to a recipient.  The screening process will involve blood work, an ultrasound, and a psychological evaluation.  For the psychological evaluation, you will meet with a psychologist who will talk with you about why you want to be a donor, and her staff will administer a psychological test called the MMPI.  The interview and test are not difficult or threatening.  Additional tests may be required in certain circumstances.  You will not have to pay for any of the testing or screening procedures.  We do however, encourage you to use your current health benefits to make sure you are current with your cervical cancer screening, including having a current Pap smear.  We do not perform Pap smear screening as part of the donor evaluation.

After the initial screening, you may be informed that you have not been accepted as an egg donor.  This does not mean there is anything wrong with you.  We are concerned about many issues including the possibility that you may regret your participation or may have a low chance of being selected by a recipient.  Once all of the screening is completed, and you have been accepted into the program, we will enter you into our donor registry if appropriate.  Recipients will then be able to review your profile and select you as their donor.

We will utilize the information that you provide on your health history and application form to tentatively match you with a prospective recipient.  Please answer all questions accurately and thoroughly.  Contact family members for help as needed.  Some donors are rejected simply because they do not take the questions seriously or provide enough details.  The photos you send will be viewed by potential recipients and should not be “provocative”.  Recipients will review your history and photos in order to select you as a “match”.  Once a tentative match has been made, we will contact you to ask if you are still willing to be a donor.  If you are willing, we will ask you to visit to our clinic where you will meet with one of the coordinators.  The coordinator will instruct you on the donor process and medications.  Testing will be performed.  After all of the evaluation is complete, a session is schedule for injection training and a review of the details of the medications you will take.  During a cycle, you will be required to give yourself several injectable medications.  You may choose to have a friend or partner administer these medications.  These injections are very important to the success of the cycle and it is very important that they be given as directed.

FDA Regulations and Donor Tissues

  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has regulatory oversight of donor tissue programs, including donor eggs.
  • The FDA regulations require us to ask very specific questions regarding health history, sexual history, and other health related activities.
  • Our clinic has completed inspections in the past and will have additional inspections in the future to confirm compliance with the FDA regulations.
  • Compliance with the regulations is necessary to minimize the health risks to the recipient parents.
  • We will require the completion of additional questionnaires which you may have already completed, and repeat blood tests to confirm the absence of infectious diseases.
  • Donors are not billed for the testing and evaluation.

 Apply to be an egg donor

Treatment Summary

The egg donation process involves several visits to our office for testing and monitoring of the effects of the medications that are given.  The process can be broken into the application, evaluation, selection, and treatment phases.  The section below outlines the treatment process.  We will review all of the necessary details with you and during your instructional visit, a calendar specific to your donation will be provided.  Egg donation is easy and rewarding.

If you are not already on birth control pills, we will have you start them within the first 5 days of your menstrual cycle.  This is to help synchronize you with the recipient and to help make the eggs start growing at the same time.  You will not have to be on birth control pills for more than a few weeks unless there is a scheduling problem that requires longer use of the pills.  In some cases you will be on birth control pills less than 2 weeks.  Even if you have an IUD or use another form of birth control, we will still have you use birth control pills to synchronize your cycle with the recipient.  If you have a medical condition that prevents you from being on birth control pills, this should have been disclosed in your health history or you should notify our clinic before starting any treatments.
In some cases we will utilize a medication called lupron to help coordinate you and your recipients’ cycles.  If you are taking oral contraceptive pills, we will overlap the lupron and the pills for a few days, and then have you stop the pills.  Before beginning lupron you will be required to come to the clinic in the morning for an ultrasound of your ovaries, a physical exam, and a blood tests.  We frequently use a form of lupron that will last for 30 days.  Lupron will suppress your reproductive hormones and allow us to have control of the timing of your cycle.  Usually within a week of starting lupron you will have a menstrual period.  It may be a few days late, and may be heavier than normal.  When this period occurs please call our office and we will give you instructions about when to begin the next medication.  Side effects of lupron include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and headaches.  These will diminish when you start the gonadotropins (injectable medications that stimulate egg growth).  If you have not had an egg retrieval within 30 days of the lupron shot we will instruct you to begin daily injections of a small amount of lupron.  The needles for Lupron are similar to insulin injections, and are usually not uncomfortable or difficult to give.
Antagonist medications such as Cetrotide or Ganirelix may be used as an alternative to Lupron injections to suppress ovulation.  If you are not given instructions for Depot Lupron (1 injection that lasts 30 days) or daily Lupron, you may be instructed the use a gonadotropin releasing hormone antagonist called Cetrotide or Ganireleix.  These medications will block ovulation and allow us to grow the follicles to the proper size before going to the egg retrieval.  These are daily injections that usually start around day 6 of the gonadotropins, or medications intended to grow the eggs.   An individualized calendar will specify which type of medication you are to take and how often.  Be certain to follow your calendar exactly as outlined.
Gonadotropins are medications that will stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple mature eggs in a cycle.  It is given by subcutaneous injection (small needle into the skin like a diabetic injection) every evening for anywhere for 10-18 days (the average time is 12 days).  There are several brand names of gonadotropins available and we will supply you with the medications, syringes, and needles. Common brand names include Follistim, Gonal-F, and Menopur.  You will also receive instructions for mixing and injecting your brand of medications.  A common dose of gonadotropin is 225 to 300 international units (IU) each evening.  We will instruct you how much medicine to take, and what days you are supposed to take the medication.  After taking injections of gonadotropins for approximately 9 days, you will come in for your first monitoring visit.  All of our monitoring ultrasound visits take place in the morning and there is very little flexibility in scheduling these appointments.  At each visit you will have an endovaginal ultrasound to monitor the progress of your ovaries’ response to the medicine, and you may have blood drawn for an estrogen level (also to monitor your response to the medicine).  At each visit we will discuss with you your progress and arrange your next visit.  We will usually need to see you several times throughout your stimulation phase.  Once the follicles (fluid sacs containing eggs) on your ovaries have reached the desired size you will be instructed to administer the third type of medication – HCG or Lupron.
There are two different types of medications that can be used to prepare (or trigger) the eggs for the egg collection procedure.  We will instruct you on which medication you will take and how to take it.  If you have been using Lupron to block ovulation, you will likely use HCG or Ovidrel to prepare for the egg collection.  If you have been using an antagonist, Cetrotide or Ganirelix to block ovulation, you will likely use Lupron to prepare for the egg collection.

HCG is given in the evening 2 days before egg retrieval. It is very important that you take this injection at the exact time instructed as we will plan the egg retrieval for 36 hours later.  HCG will cause the eggs to become mature and be released from the wall of the follicle.  It is important we perform the retrieval before the eggs are ovulated into the abdomen.  After the HCG you will not take any more injections.  HCG may continue to stimulate the ovaries and you may notice an increase in abdominal bloating after the procedure.  Ovidrel is a form of HCG.  The dosing of Ovidrel is different than HCG and if this medication is being used, you will receive specific instructions.

Lupron can be given to prepare the eggs instead of HCG.  This is a newer technique that is used for women that produce larger numbers of follicles and may be at increased risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  By using Lupron, the risk of OHSS is reduced to very low rates.  Lurpon is taken in the evening approximately 36 hours before the procedure and repeated approximately 24 hours before the procedure.

On the day of the egg retrieval, also known as a TVOR (trans-vaginal oocyte retrieval), you will not be able to drive.  Please make arrangements for transportation to and from the clinic.  On the morning of the oocyte retrieval you will be taken to the recovery and observation area.  From there, the nurse will instruct you to change into a gown and they will insert an IV catheter in your arm.  We will administer medications through the IV catheter that will make you very sleepy during the egg retrieval.  We use very potent sedation medications that make the procedure essentially pain free.  Most women are not able to remember any details of the retrieval.  The egg retrieval is performed using an endovaginal ultrasound with a needle guide attached.  A needle is passed through the back wall of the vagina and into the ovary and the eggs removed.  A typical egg retrieval takes 10-15 minutes.  After the retrieval you will return to the recovery area to rest for about 1/2 hour.  Once you feel awake, have something to drink, and empty your bladder, the IV will be removed and you can go home.  You cannot plan any other activities on the day of retrieval.  Cramping and spotting are not uncommon for 1 to 2 days after the procedure.  We can provide pain medications to assist you with recovery in the unlikely event that you have more pain than expected after the procedure.

We may not be able to remove all of the eggs during the retrieval which means you could easily become pregnant.  We strongly suggest that you use a barrier form of contraception (Foam, diaphragm, condoms) and abstain from intercourse until after you have a period.  After the egg retrieval you will probably start a period within 10-14 days.  At this time you may return to your normal form of contraception.

There are several complications that may occur while participating in a cycle of egg donation.  The primary risk to be aware of is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS).  The risk of Ovarian Hyperstimulation exists any time these medications are used, though newer approaches to using the medications has greatly reduced this risk to 1%.  Most women will feel bloated, have some abdominal tenderness, and a temporary 5-10 LB weight gain.  In severe cases, patients may require IV fluids, pain medication, hospitalization and monitoring to prevent severe medical complications. If you have regular periods you are not at high risk for developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.  There is a risk of causing bleeding within the ovary which could require a blood transfusion, but this is extremely rare.  There is a higher chance of ovarian torsion (twising of an ovary requiring surgery to fix the ovary), but this is very rare.  There is not thought to be an increased risk of ovarian cancer from use of infertility medications.  Studies suggest that the risk of ovarian cancer is not increased by the use of gonadotropins, but the studies are not designed to detect very small risks such as 1 in 20,000.  Use of birth control pills and pregnancy can both decrease your risk of ovarian cancer.  We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

We will ask you to sign consent forms prior to beginning a cycle that will detail the risks and responsibilities involved with oocyte donation, conscious sedation, and egg retrieval.

You will receive compensation for your time and inconvenience.  Donors are not compensated for the quality of the egg, social/ethnic background, or the results of the procedure.  The compensation will be subject to taxation and we will provide you with a Form 1099 for filing your taxes.  Donors are not eligible to participate in more than 6 cycles including cycles completed at other centers. Dishonesty about the number of cycles completed at another center is grounds for disqualification from the donor program.

Rescuing Eggs That Would Be Lost

A woman is born with all of the eggs she is going to have during her life.  The eggs are constantly trying to grow up from the time the ovary forms until menopause.  Even though a woman may only ovulation 1 egg per month, many more eggs are attempting to grow up during the same time period.  Fertility medications rescue eggs that would have otherwise died.  Because we are rescuing eggs that are already destined do die, the egg donation process does not take away any eggs from the donor’s future and will not cause her to go through menopause any earlier.  The eggs that are collected were going to die.  What better way to make use of these extra eggs than to donate them to a woman struggling to become a mother.

 Questions? If you have any questions or would like to meet with us to discuss becoming a donor, please do not hesitate to call.  There is no cost to you and no obligation to proceed. There is no greater joy than sharing a gift of life with another woman.

Apply to be an egg donor