Common Egg Donor Myths eBook

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1 FACT VS. FICTION: Common Egg Donor Myths and Misconceptions

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2 Table of Contents I: Egg Donors: Helping Families and Changing Lives. 3 In-Vitro Fertilization. 4 Egg Donation. 4 Why People Use Egg Donors. 5 ART Success Rates in the U.S. 5 II: Common Egg Donor Myths and Misconceptions. 7 Myth: Donating eggs depletes a woman’s egg supply. 8 Myth: Donating eggs can cause infertility in the donor. 8 Myth: Any woman can become an egg donor. 8 Myth: There are no limits to the number of eggs a woman can donate. 9 Myth: Women who become egg donors only do it for the money. 9 Myth: Egg donors must take extensive time off from work or school. 9 Myth: Donating eggs is a painful process. 9 Myth: Women who donate eggs have legal responsibilities to any child born. 10 Myth: Women who use donor eggs pass none of their own genes on to their offspring.. 0 III: Egg Donation Changes Lives. 12

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3 Egg Donors: Helping Families and Changing Lives

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From the antibiotic revolution to organ transplantation, modern medicine has improved life for people around the world in countless ways. One of the most remarkable achievements of the last half century is the introduction of assisted reproductive technology (ART), used to treat infertility. IN-VITRO FERTILIZATION Assisted reproductive techniques include in-vitro fertilization, which involves extracting eggs from a woman’s ovaries and fertilizing them outside her body (in a lab) with sperm from her partner or a donor. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the woman’s uterus with the goal of establishing a successful pregnancy. On July 25, 1978, the first-ever baby was born successfully from in-vitro fertilization in Manchester, England.1 Her name is Louise Joy Brown, and today she has two children of her own. EGG DONATION Another form of assisted reproductive technology using in-vitro fertilization is egg donation—only, the eggs retrieved come from a donor. The retrieved eggs are fertilized in a lab with sperm from the intended recipient’s partner, or in some cases, from a sperm donor. The resulting embryo is then transferred to the recipient’s uterus with the goal of establishing a successful pregnancy. The very first baby born from a donor egg arrived in Australia in 1983, followed by a second baby born in Southern California in 1984.2 Since then, thousands of women and men have had their lives transformed by egg donors. 4

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*Per the CDC, ART cycles include “any process in which (1) an ART procedure is performed, (2) a woman has undergone ovarian stimulation or monitoring with the intent of having an ART procedure, or (3) frozen embryos have been thawed with the intent of transferring them to a woman.” 5 WHY PEOPLE USE EGG DONORS Many women who are unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term have turned to egg donors to help make their dream of having a child come true. So have many members of the LGBT community, as well as couples in which one partner has a communicable disease that could be passed on to the baby, such as HIV. The most common reason women use donor eggs is infertility. Some women have eggs that are not viable; or, their eggs may have some viability, but the chances of successful conception through IVF is unlikely or prohibitively expensive. Other reasons people may turn to donor eggs include: A family history of genetic diseases: Including chromosome abnormalities, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, Huntington’s disease, mental illness, hemophilia, and others. A history of pregnancy failure: Such as women who have had multiple early pregnancy miscarriages or late-term pregnancy failure. A history of cancer: Women who have undergone chemotherapy to treat cancer may sustain irreparable damage to their ovaries as a result. Multiple IVF failures: It’s not uncommon for a woman to undergo several IVF attempts using her own eggs without success. Advanced maternal age: Some women who delay having children find themselves unable to conceive when the time is right; others go into premature menopause before they can start a family; yet others intentionally delay having children until after menopause because of career demands or for other reasons. Inability to conceive because of gender: Such as same sex couples and single men who wish to have children. ART SUCCESS RATES IN THE U.S. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) collects data every year from hundreds of clinics across the U.S. that use assisted reproductive technology (ART). In 2015, 231,936 ART cycles* were reported by the 464 clinics across the country.3 In cases where donor eggs were used: 55.6% of embryo transfers resulted in live births when fresh embryos were used. 42.3% of embryo transfers resulted in live births when frozen embryos were used.

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6 For comparison, in cases where fresh embryos from nondonor eggs were used: The full report contains additional information about ART success rates in 2015 (see chart on page 5 of the document). Overall, there were nearly 61,000 live births in the U.S. in 2015 as a result of assisted reproductive technology—a testament to its effectiveness. Many people wonder “how much can you get for donating eggs?” Egg donors provide an invaluable gift to recipients who might otherwise be unable to have a child. Donating eggs is a serious decision that requires careful thought and commitment, and, as such, donors are financially compensated. While financial compensation is often a significant incentive for egg donors, it’s not necessarily the only reason women donate their eggs—which brings us to our next section about common egg donor myths.

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7 Common Egg Donor Myths and Misconceptions

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There are plenty of myths and misconceptions swirling around egg donation. Let’s look at some of the most common. MYTH: DONATING EGGS DEPLETES A WOMAN’S EGG SUPPLY Egg donation does not significantly reduce a woman’s egg supply. Approximately 10-15 eggs are removed during each donation cycle. Keep in mind that a woman is born with one to two million eggs inside her ovaries and loses only a few hundred eggs through ovulation in her lifetime. MYTH: DONATING EGGS CAN CAUSE INFERTILITY IN THE DONOR There is no evidence that the egg donation process negatively impacts a woman’s ability to have children. As with any medical procedure, there are risks involved—a very small number of women will develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) or ovarian torsion; infection, bleeding, and damage to internal organs are also possible, but rare. There are no studies showing that infertility is a significant risk for women who donate their eggs. MYTH: ANY WOMAN CAN BECOME AN EGG DONOR Unfortunately, not all women are eligible to become egg donors. Eligibility is limited to women of a certain age (typically women between the ages of 21 and 30) who score high on fertility tests and who meet additional criteria, which may include: General good health, with both ovaries intact Body mass index (BMI) below a certain threshold No family history of inheritable genetic diseases, such as cystic fibrosis U.S. citizenship (some donor agencies) Certain education requirements (e.g. some college, or college graduate) No psychiatric disorders or family history of such disorders Non-smoker, and social drinking only No current or previous substance abuse No contraceptive implants or hormonal IUDs Desire to help someone create a family 8

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9 MYTH: THERE ARE NO LIMITS TO THE NUMBER OF EGGS A WOMAN CAN DONATE For the safety of donors (egg donation is a medical procedure, which has inherent risks), the American Society of Reproductive Medicine has established guidelines limiting the number of times a woman can donate her eggs to six (6) times. How long a donor must wait between egg retrieval cycles will depend on the overseeing doctor’s recommendations and the policies of the particular IVF clinic. MYTH: WOMEN WHO BECOME EGG DONORS ONLY DO IT FOR THE MONEY Many people assume that financial compensation is the only reason a woman would donate her eggs, but in reality, egg donors are often strongly motivated to help families—at a minimum, they know they are helping someone in need. Donors receive compensation for their time and any expenses they incur, including commuting and time missed from work or school. The egg donation process requires commitment and physical investment. It’s not something to be taken lightly. That’s why reputable egg donor clinics like The Donor Solution carefully screen potential egg donors. MYTH: EGG DONORS MUST TAKE EXTENSIVE TIME OFF FROM WORK OR SCHOOL While egg donation requires a commitment of 6-10 weeks, appointments can often be done early in the morning, before school or work, and most doctor’s visits take place within a few weeks of the actual egg retrieval. The Egg Donation Process with The Donor Solution Note: This is a brief overview of the egg donation process. The Donor Solution will provide additional information and details on exactly how the egg donation process unfolds. Step 1: Apply to become an egg donor Step 2: Interview and screening Step 3: Physical exam (similar to well-woman’s exam) Step 4: Visit with psychologist Step 5: Wait for lab results and for menstrual cycle to begin Step 6: Set up calendar for donation cycle, and begin taking birth control pills (for approx. 3 weeks) Step 7: Begin taking stimulation medication Step 8: Begin self-administered hormone injections (after training) for approximately 10-14 days, with doctor visits every 2-3 days Step 9: Actual egg retrieval (procedure itself takes just 30 minutes) Step 10: Compensation, and recovery at home (a day or two for most women) Depending on the location of the clinic, you may need to spend several nights away from home. The actual egg retrieval process takes just 20-30 minutes, after which you’ll need a full day to recover. In all, most women are able to easily arrange their schedules around the egg donation process. MYTH: DONATING EGGS IS A PAINFUL PROCESS Prior to egg retrieval, donors must self-administer a series of hormone shots over the course of about two weeks. Shots are always a bit painful, and some women tolerate needles better than others. Women who normally brave through shots without a problem should do fine—those who panic or even faint when given shots may not be suitable candidates for egg donation. Some women experience bloating, cramping, headaches, nausea, and breast tenderness as a result of the hormone medication, while others experience none of these symptoms at all. It’s important to keep in mind that any possible side effects are temporary. The egg retrieval procedure itself is painless; donors are sedated for the procedure and will have no memory of it.

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10 MYTH: WOMEN WHO DONATE EGGS HAVE LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES TO ANY CHILD BORN Becoming an egg donor requires relinquishing all rights and responsibilities associated with both the donated eggs and any children born as a result of them. Egg donors must typically sign legal contracts, parental rights waivers, informed consent releases, confidentiality agreements, and other forms, which may vary somewhat from agency to agency. Egg donor arrangements are often anonymous, which means the egg donor won’t know who receives her eggs, and recipients won’t know the donor. In anonymous situations, any information about the egg donor is presented in a non-identifying manner. This means a donor’s last name, address, phone number, email address, and other identifying information will not be given to recipients. MYTH: WOMEN WHO USE DONOR EGGS PASS NONE OF THEIR OWN GENES ON TO THEIR OFFSPRING Advancements in scientific understanding have revealed that mothers can in fact pass on some of their genes to their offspring, even when they use donor eggs from another woman.4 This is significant, since the idea of having no genetic relation to their baby is sometimes a concern for women considering using donor eggs. Molecules called microRNAs, which pass genetic information from the mother to the fetus, are secreted in the mother’s womb, making their way into the developing fetus through the endometrial fluid. MicroRNAs can be thought of as “packets” of information that regulate the expression of genes. They can influence everything from the baby’s physical characteristics to the onset of diseases later in life. The discovery of microRNA transfer in the womb helps explain why some babies conceived from donor eggs bear a resemblance to someone on the birth mother’s side, including mom herself! The Donor Solution offers three different levels of donor anonymity: Completely anonymous donation: Neither the egg donor or recipient receive any identifying information about each other. Identity release: The egg donor agrees to be contacted by a third party if a child resulting from her egg donation requests to contact her, as long as the child is at least 18 years of age. Known donation: The egg donor and intended parents meet in person and decide the level of future interaction.

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11 Egg Donation Changes Lives For the 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. who struggle with infertility,5 for members of the LGBT community, and for those who have a family history of genetic diseases (to name just a few potential egg donation beneficiaries), egg donors provide an invaluable gift. Egg donation and in-vitro fertilization have helped hundreds of thousands of couples as well as single women and men realize their dreams of having a family. Egg donation can also be tremendously rewarding for donors—helping people build families is often a strong motivator for becoming an egg donor. And, for those wondering what sort of compensation can I receive when donating my eggs?, donors are generally well compensated for their time and commitment to the process. The Donor Solution invites prospective egg donors and recipients (intended parents) to learn more about the egg donation process.

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12 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Brown https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_donation#History https://www.cdc.gov/art/pdf/2015-report/ART-2015-National-Summary-Report.pdf http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3259508/Scientists-hail-amazing-discovery-s- revealed-infertile-mothers-use-donor-eggs-pass-DNA-children.html https://www.womenshealth.gov/a-z-topics/infertility Sources:

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13 About The Donor Solution One of the most highly-regarded agencies in the industry, The Donor Solution has been helping people build families for nearly a decade. Founded by Mary Fusillo, RN, BSN, MS, The Donor Solution has matched nearly 800 egg donors and recipients since 2007, working with dozens of IVF clinics. Mary’s involvement in the egg donor industry began nearly two decades ago, when she experienced her own challenges having children and was introduced to the arena of reproductive endocrinology and infertility. Today, she has substantial experience running donor egg programs, having served as Clinical Infertility Nursing Director at one of the oldest and most prestigious infertility clinics in the United States, as well as managing the donor egg pharmacy program for one of the largest Pharmacy Benefit Management companies in the country. Mary and the entire team at The Donor Solution are committed to helping people from all walks of life realize their dream of having children. The Donor Solution is owned and managed by licensed professionals in the field of infertility. We carefully screen and select donors, and we work closely with intended parents every step of the way, ensuring their needs and wishes are met and all their questions and concerns are addressed. Choosing The Donor Solution means working with a team who genuinely cares about your comfort and happiness. To learn more about finding a donor or becoming a donor, please call (713) 827-0301, or visit thedonorsolution.com. Mary Fusillo, RN, BSN, MS Founder and Executive Director of The Donor Solution

Summary: https://thedonorsolution.com/resources/common-egg-donor-myths-ebook/ | This book is intended to educate potential egg donors and interested parents on the truth behind egg donor myths

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