Former Egg Donor Undergoing IVF

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Awkward Post

This is kind of an awkward, hard post for me. It is probably because I want to be in denial and not believe the worst can happen. There is always that chance that I am starting to diagnose myself with everything I am studying in med school to though.

Since my last donation (earlier this year), my periods have become extremely irregular. I never had abdominal cramps during my cycles, but since the last donation, my cramps are horrible. I am unsure if these abnormalities are consistent with the complications and oddities that occurred during my donation, and I am scared to find out the worst possible outcome.

During my last donation, the IVF doctor put me on maximum dosages, and on some days asked me to take the maximum dosage twice instead of the protocol of 1 dose daily. In my opinion, my ovaries were extremely pissed at the doctor for putting it through more hell than it had to asking me to take twice the maximum doses daily. I developed severe OHSS after the egg retrieval. I was also under lots of stress with the last cycle.

Since I study medicine full time, I am constantly reminded how my symptoms (additional ones not mentioned here), are red flags for me to get checked out. It's easy for someone to recommend to see a provider about the issue... but the doctors/providers are always the hardest patients. I can honestly relate to that. It is extremely difficult for me to see a doctor about any issue- because I can come up with lots of differential diagnoses for myself with the knowledge I have now. Of  course I still don't know everything, and doubt I ever will, even as a practicing clinician. The world of medicine is the understanding that we as clinicians should constantly be learning and be humble enough to recognize that we don't know everything.

In school, we had the medical board come speak to us about the laws and regulations, and a quick introduction on "how to avoid getting sued." During their time with us, it struck me how many things the IVF doctor did wrong with my last donation. It is my hope that there are no serious adverse effects to my symptoms- and if there is, I need to restore my faith in doctors. Sometimes, they get so busy, they miss the small details, which in turn can cause life-threatening or negative outcomes as a result.

As a future clinician, I want to always promise myself to treat all patients like they were my own family members. We are all going through hard things, and there is no reason for medical providers to make those "hard things" even harder for us (patients).

Please read my post "10 Basics Things You Should Know About Egg Donation Before Donating." Though the after-feeling of donating is rewarding, we also sign up for the unknown side effects that come with it. Be good to your body... we only have one in life.

- The anonymous egg donor

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Egg Donation for Dummies

So you want to be an egg donor, huh?

The top 9 BASIC things you should know:

1. If you faint at the sight of needles, then egg donation is not for you. For a few weeks, you will be screwing with your natural hormone cycle, by taking approximately 4-6 injections daily in your stomach, quadriceps, and buttocks. In addition, you must get your blood drawn everyday. For the first time during my fourth cycle, my veins got so bruised, it swelled up to the size of a grape. Your friends and family might question if you're a drug addict with all the needle inject sites in random places of your body. My stomach had so many injections, it turned 50 shades of gray, black and blue during that time.

2. You're concerned about your fertility, and not sure how egg donation affects it. When I began donating, I was reassured by every IVF doctor that it did not affect my fertility. Funny you should say that doc, because years later, I'm in the business of medicine, and there's no sufficient data in favor of egg donation and fertility risks. In fact, why on earth would I believe anything the IVF doc is saying, especially when I am the reason behind their fat paycheck from parents at the end of day. Whose side are those IVF docs on? I can guarantee you, it's not the egg donors. 

                                                   Biofeedback baby... don't mess with it.

Oh you don't understand positive and negative feedback of the endocrine system, and the mechanisms behind it? Yeah, I thought I understood it after receiving my undergrad degree in pre-med, but learning about it in detail in medical school really changed my perspective. If you have no desire to conceive, then egg donation is for you.

3. If you are late to most or all of your nail appointments, hair appointments and/or school classes, then egg donation is not for you. Each morning of your donation cycle, you must go into the IVF clinic, to get your blood drawn and do a transvaginal ultrasound... which bring me to number 5. 

4. A transvaginal ultrasound is done nearly everyday. Yep, it's more uncomfortable than what's depicted in the picture too. 

5. If go "insane in the membrane" when you can't fit in a daily work out, then egg donation is not for you. As an egg donor, undergoing injections, you should not work out. In fact, do not do any form of cardio even after the surgery- don't even fast walk! You must wait until your ovaries return to their normal size (so, after your next period). In laymen's terms, the injections stimulate more follicles to grow, causing your ovaries to swell up like a large fruit. Your normal ovaries are 3 to 5 cm! The fallopian tubes (aka: the arm looking things holding onto your ovary) can't deal with the weight, and twists on itself (torsion). When this happens, your blood supply to the ovary is cut off, and it starts to "die" (no blood to organ = organ death). This is what we called ovarian torsion and it is a medical emergency! It's a risk you sign up for when you agree to be an egg donor! Which brings me to number 7...

6. I have donated 4 times, and I suffered from ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS). It's no fun people! I had to go the ER, and emergency room visits are not a day in the park, Due to lack of time (I have 4 exams next week), I am copying and pasting just a few of the adverse effects from OHSS from the Mayo Clinic:

  • Rapid weight gain I gained 10 lbs in one day
  • Severe abdominal pain - more like excruciating pain
  • Severe, persistent nausea and vomiting - story of my life for 2 weeks after surgery
  • Decreased urination - you retain water
  • Dark urine - you retain water
  • Shortness of breath - can't breathe because your visceral organs are so cramped from your super big and super pissed off ovaries. 
  • Tight or enlarged abdomen - this is an understatement. 
  • Dizziness - Oh, one thing, I didn't have
7. Never ever sign a contract without reading it in detail. Get it checked out by a lawyer even. Even if the agency hires one on your behalf, be cautious. 

8. If you believe the eggs you are donating, are really your offspring, then donation is not for you, period. 

9. If you are donating for the money, then donation may or may not be for you. Many alumni donors regret their decision of donating because they did it solely for the cash. 

I'm sure there are more things that could go onto this list, and I will continue to add on as I get more time! :)

Peace and Love 
- the anonymous egg donor

Disclaimer: As always, all opinions are my own

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Does Egg Donation Affect My Future Fertility?

Q: If I donate my eggs, does it affect my future fertility? 

( I get this question so many times in my email, that I decided to publicly post my response for all to view. If you are a skim-reader, at least read the wording in red). 

A: Truth is, there are no long term studies showing the after effects of egg donation. So don't accept their guarantees that there are no consequences to your fertility.  Per my previous four donations, I was always told by my  agency and IVF doctors that there was absolutely no risk to my own fertility. After befriending many other egg donors, and completing my first year in medical school, I have come to the devastating realization that it is very possible that my previous  four donations have put me at increased risk of cancer and reducing my ovarian reserve. Some of my egg donor friends have actually gone into early menopause before the age of 30, likely caused by egg donation. 

For a long time, I couldn't wrap my head around my agency and IVF doctors constantly reassuring me that I was not putting my body in any sort of danger. Since then, I have realized that I was a very trusting and naive individual. I also was not a medical student back then either. Of course I shouldn't put all my faith into those people who are using my body as an egg vending machine. I was merely another check in the bank! I want to believe that my original agency whom I had done 3 cycles with, really did not know that it did in fact take a major toll on their donors. Recently, I was asked by them to do a fifth donation. However, I denied the offer. I am no longer willing to donate. Partially because of what I have learned in medical school, partially because of my nightmare experience with another agency I worked with on my fourth cycle, and partially because of I am on new medications that disallows me to be a donor anymore. I hope potential donors reading this takes consideration of the serious health risks you take on as an egg donor. 

When girls ask me about whether I would recommend egg donation, I am unable to really give a straight answer. Instead, I like to tell them what I know medically behind the process, and the possible consequences. I also tell them about my first 3 donations, and how wonderful my agency treated me. In 2 of those 3 donations with them, I was put in the best hotels, and taken care of very well by them. During one of the donations, one of the hotels was pretty bad, and in a sketchy part of town. I was not sure if it was because the cost of living was higher in this area... or what, but that was my last donation with that agency.  

If you have any more questions as a potential donor, donor, or intended parent, please tweet or email me! The best way to contact me is on Twitter