FAQ: Common Questions for Egg Donors

Who are the recipients?

Couples generally choose to use donor eggs because they're unable to conceive a child with the female partner's own eggs. There are many reasons that a woman may not be able to conceive with her own eggs, including older age, early menopause, poor-quality eggs or previous cancer treatments that damaged the ovaries. Frequently, recipients have already been through extensive fertility treatments without success.

Egg recipients can be couples or single women or men. At UCSF, all recipients for our egg donor program are UCSF patients.

Why should I choose the UCSF Ovum Donor Program?

The UCSF Egg Donor Program is part of the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health. Our team has expertise from some of the top programs in the country, and all of our physicians are board certified in both obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. We have been helping patients become parents using donated eggs since 1991 and were one of the first programs in the Bay Area to do so.

Because the UCSF Egg Donor Program only provides eggs to UCSF patients, you will receive all your care in one setting. Egg donor agencies may send you to donate at various locations, all of which may have different processes.

If I'm interested in participating, how do I get started?

You may download an application, fill it out and email it to eggdonorprogram@ucsfmedctr.org. Once the application is returned, we can consider you for the next steps of the screening process.

Alternatively, you may call our egg donor coordinator at (415) 353-9251 or email us at eggdonorprogram@ucsfmedctr.org.

What's involved in the screening process?

You will be asked to complete a detailed questionnaire about your background and your medical, family and personal history. After that is complete and has been reviewed by our staff, we will call to arrange screening appointments with our psychologist and genetic counselor. The last step in the screening process is a physical examination with a doctor and laboratory tests.

What's the compensation?

We offer ovum donors $8,000 for their time, travel and efforts, once they have completed an ovum donation cycle. The medical screening you will receive before donating is performed at no cost to you, and you may request results of all your medical tests for your own records or to give to your doctor.

Many egg donors report the positive emotional impact as an additional form of "compensation." Knowing you've helped complete a family can be very rewarding.

Can you describe the whole process?

For a detailed description, please see Egg Donation Process for Donors.

How much time is involved?

The screening process generally takes a few weeks to complete. You will speak to the Egg Donor Program coordinator by phone and come into the office for a few short visits at our Mount Zion location. Once you're chosen as an egg donor, a cycle takes approximately four weeks.

During a two-week period, you'll come to the clinic about seven to 10 times for ultrasound monitoring and blood tests. These appointments generally require a 15- to 30-minute visit in the morning. The day that you are scheduled for the egg retrieval, you'll be at our clinic for a large portion of the day. Most donors are able to continue to work or go to school during the process.

Will I need to give myself shots?

Yes. The shots are done at home. You can do them yourself, or have a friend or family member help you. We will teach you how to mix and administer your medication in our office.

Are there possible side effects and risks?

As with any medical procedure, there are possible side effects and risks. Many women feel very minor or no discomfort during the donation cycle. Others have varying symptoms that typically resolve after the egg retrieval procedure. Some donors may feel bloating, pressure, abdominal pain and swelling, breast tenderness and moodiness from the hormone medications, which will go away by the next menstrual period. Severe side effects are rare and will be discussed with you in detail by a doctor before you join the program.

  • Injection side effects and risks — The blood tests and hormone injections are usually well tolerated. However, some women experience pain, redness or minor bruising at the injection site. Allergic reactions are rare.
  • Medication side effects and risks — There is a small risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) developing during an egg donation cycle. OHSS generally occurs after the egg retrieval and involves enlargement of the ovaries, significant increases in fluid retention within the abdomen and concentration of the blood within the blood vessels.

  • In its more mild form, OHSS can be uncomfortable but resolves within several days. The severe form, which occurs in about 1 percent of donor cycles, may require hospitalization for monitoring. While the condition is serious, it usually lasts no more than one week.
  • Procedure side effects and risks — The egg retrieval procedure is guided by transvaginal ultrasound. The risk of serious complications from this procedure is rare — about 1 in 1,000. Serious complications involve bleeding that requires observation in the hospital, blood transfusion, or both, as well as damage to internal organs and infection.
  • Other side effects and risks — To date, evidence doesn't suggest any increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer from serving as an egg donor. There is no evidence of increased risk of infertility.

Are there any restrictions during the process?

You can get pregnant during the egg donation process, so we ask that you abstain from intercourse during the process.

Your ovaries will become enlarged during the egg donation process. We ask you to refrain from high-impact activities such as running, mountain biking and jumping until several weeks after the egg retrieval. After approximately one month, your ovaries will return to their normal size.

Can I become pregnant during treatment?

Yes! It's very important to avoid intercourse from the time you start the hormone medication until three weeks after your egg retrieval. This will prevent an unwanted pregnancy and ensure the cycle goes as planned.

Will it impact my fertility or deplete my eggs?

No. The procedure itself doesn't have any impact on your future ability to have children. Women are born with about 2 million eggs. Each month, a group of eggs begin the maturation process, but the body selects only one egg each cycle to ovulate, while the rest are absorbed by the body. Fertility medications "rescue" some of these excess eggs that the body would have ordinarily discarded.

Can I still work or go to school?

Although the egg donation process requires you to adhere strictly to your medication and appointment schedule, most women are able to continue with work and school without difficulty.

However, you must take the medication as instructed, and on time. You must be on time for all monitoring appointments, and you must arrange for transportation to and from the egg retrieval. This means you will need to make your egg donor cycle a top priority during the few weeks that it occurs, and you may have to reschedule other events, classes or work times as necessary.

What are my responsibilities if I agree to become a donor?

The responsibilities of ovum donors are:

  • Be truthful in all portions of the donor screening process.
  • Follow the doctors' orders during the treatment cycle.
  • Adhere strictly to your medication and appointment schedule. You must take the medication as instructed and on time, and arrive for all monitoring appointments on time. This means you must make your egg donor cycle a top priority during the few weeks that it occurs.
  • Arrange for transportation to and from the egg retrieval procedure.
  • Abstain from sex from the time you start the hormone medication until three weeks after your egg retrieval, to prevent an unwanted pregnancy and make sure the cycle proceeds as planned.

Do I have legal responsibilities to any child born?

When you agree to donate your eggs, you are giving up all rights and responsibilities associated with the eggs and any child born as a result of them.

Will the recipients know me or meet me?

Most egg donor arrangements are anonymous, meaning you won't know the recipients and they won't know you. Information about you is shared with the recipients in a non-identifying manner. For example, we share the following information: your blood type, ethnic background of your mother and father, height, weight, body build, eye color, hair color and texture, years of education, occupation, special interests and family medical history. Pictures you give us will also be shared with potential recipients. We will not share your last name, address, telephone number or email address.

We are committed to creating egg donation arrangements that fit the personal needs of both donor and recipients. Some donors and recipients are interested in meeting each other and we support that process, if all parties are willing. On your application, you will indicate whether you're willing to meet the recipients, and whether you would be willing to meet their child when the child is an adult.

Can I donate more than once?

Yes. If all goes well with your first egg donation cycle, we would be happy to have you come back and donate again. Repeat donation may take less of your time, because you will have already completed the initial screening process.

For your safety, ovum donors can donate no more than six times. This guideline was established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.