Egg donation can take a toll on your physical, mental and emotional health. In addition to taking medications and undergoing the implantation procedure, you need to prepare yourself for the possibility that the process may not work. To prepare yourself as best as possible, consider the following tips.
Make yourself healthy for egg donation
You are more likely to become pregnant after the implantation procedure, if your body is healthy. Why? Because a healthy body doesn't need to struggle to function normally or to find nutrients. Making yourself healthy means:
- maintaining a healthy weight
- eating nutritious foods
- exercising in moderation
- reducing caffeine (one cup of coffee a day is alright)
- abstaining from cigarettes, alcohol and drugs
Doing these things will give your body a much better chance of becoming pregnant. In your effort, don't overdo it on exercise or severely restrict your caloric intake — both of those will place extra stress on your body.
Avoiding infections is also important. Get a seasonal flu shot as soon as it's available (just check with your doctor first), because flu in pregnancy can cause complications. Be careful about foods, too, avoiding unpasteurized dairy and possibly unpasteurized juices as well. Wash your hands carefully, especially after preparing meats or working in the garden, and have someone else look after the kitty litter because of the risk of toxoplasmosis — a parasitic disease that can cause serious problems for your child.
Ask good questions
Some important questions to ask and consider include:
- Will all the eggs be fertilized?
- If not, what happens to the unfertilized eggs?
- How many embryos will the doctor implant?
- What will I do in case of a multiple pregnancy?
- What will happen to any embryos not implanted?
Follow the doctor's orders
Following your doctor’s instructions — including getting enough rest and eating properly — are essential to the success of the procedure. The medications and other instructions your physician has given you are the results of lots of previous experience. Rely on that experience. If you have doubts or reservations about something, discuss them with your doctor.
Make all legal preparations
The fertility center you're using for the egg donation should have provided legal forms to all involved parties setting out the terms of the procedure, ownership rights to the eggs and all future responsibilities for a child. Make sure that all parties:
- have completed these documents
- understand their contents
- have copies for your records
It's a very good idea to consult an attorney who is experienced in egg donation and who is familiar with the laws in your state and any other states that may be involved. The attorney can review the paperwork to make sure it's legally valid and can also answer any legal questions you may have.
It is additionally important to establish a mechanism for contacting the egg donor later, should the need arise (for example, in regard a genetic question). Often times this is set through a third-party intermediary.
Prepare yourself mentally
The egg-donation procedure is mentally taxing for everyone involved. Before trying it, you may have tried other methods to become pregnant, putting up with all sorts of tests and rounds of medicines. You need to understand that while egg donation to treat infertility has proven quite successful, with a 54.8 percent success rate with fresh embryos in the United States as of 2011 (and a 35.7 percent success rate using frozen embryos), there's still no guarantee that you will become pregnant.
Additionally, you must prepare yourself to devote time and energy to your recovery from the process, and to actually being pregnant, should the procedure be a success. Pregnancy isn't easy on the body, and while you may be ecstatic that you're pregnant, you still need to anticipate the big changes your body will be going through over the next nine months.
Prepare yourself emotionally
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) says that the recipients of egg donation should receive counseling on the complexities of the decision by a mental health professional.
But beyond that, you also need to take steps to prepare yourself emotionally for all possible outcomes of the procedure. It is possible that your body will reject the fertilized egg and that you'll need to undergo the procedure again from the beginning, including picking a new donor. You may also decide to turn to another method to start your family, such as adoption.
The important thing in preparing yourself emotionally is to get yourself ready for either success or failure, so that you don't find yourself overwhelmed with sadness in the event that you don't get pregnant.
As part of your emotional preparation, you might want to consider speaking with a therapist or joining a support group of people in the same situation. Both are helpful ways of handling the stress and can bring other healthy perspectives to what you're going through.
Updated August 2014