LGBTQ+ Baby Making Options

This article is inspired by Tampa Bay Birth Network! You can find more information about the organization at their website: Tampa Bay Birth Network

Some people view not being able to get pregnant while in an LGBT relationship as a positive thing. Natural birth control right?! We must reconsider our words, as some LGBT couples really struggle through the fact that they cannot accidentally conceive or easily begin to try doing so, like a lot of heterosexual couples can. But, there ARE options!!

Choices Beyond Adoption

LGBT couples are four times more likely than heterosexual couples to adopt, likely many due to this challenge or by preferred choice, but what if your family simply does not want to adopt, but wants to have biological children? Your feelings are valid and there are choices beyond adoption!

First, it is very important to make a game plan when trying to conceive as an LGBT couple. What are the realistic options? What are the most cost-effective options? If the cost-effective options do not work, what will be the next step, and can you afford the more expensive treatments? How much money do you need to start saving for the treatments? Set goals for when you or your partner would ideally like to be pregnant! Start eating healthy, whether you are the partner contributing sperm to a carrier, you are the partner getting pregnant, or you just want to be extra healthy for that brand new baby that is going to be coming into your life.

Sperm Banks

If you will be using a sperm bank, there are a lot of different options, and a plethora of things to be looking for. Check the pricing! Is it affordable? What does the initial fee cover? What extra fees are there to view potential donors and once you have decided on one, what are the legal fees involved? What are the sperm shipping costs? How is their matching process? Do they have facial matching options? (This is where you can put a picture of anyone you want, including your spouse, and get matched up with donors that look like that person). Do you want the donor to be completely anonymous, have their contact information released when the child turns 18 (known as an Open-Identity Donor), semi-involved (in their life, but not as a parental figure), or do you want to co-parent with the donor? Do you know someone who will be a donor for you PERSONALLY? Most sperm banks have very strict qualifications as far as medical history, including relatives, luckily! Not all sperm banks are LGBT friendly though. Biogenetics, California Cryobank, Cryobiology, Idant Laboratories, Pacific Reproductive Services, Rainbow Flag Health Services and Fairfax Cryobank are known to be LGBTQ friendly.

Fun fact, there are also such things as Donor Sibling matching sites, where families that used the same donor, can talk about their kids and meet, if they would like to!

Types of Insemination

IVI – This is intravaginal insemination, meaning that donor sperm is placed in the vagina, as close to the cervix as possible, to travel up through the cervix, into the uterus, to meet an egg! This can be done at home with the right equipment, or in-clinic. A midwife, if they are willing, may also assist you, if you feel you want a professional alongside you, depending on state laws. IVI typically has a 10-30% success rate, depending on whether the sperm is washed or not (washed sperm increases chances, but this will have to be done in-clinic and can be more costly).

ICI– Intracervical insemination. This involves the use of a speculum, catheter and syringe to place sperm into the cervix, and then placing a sponge under the cervix to prevent mucus and sperm from leaking out, then is removed a couple hours later. ICI has a 5-30% success rate.

IUI– An intrauterine insemination also consists of a speculum, catheter and syringe, but the catheter will go a bit further, into the uterus for the best chance at sperm meeting an egg, and a sponge is again placed, and later removed. IUI success rates range from 2-40%.

IVF – In-vitro Fertilization is a bit more complex than any of the above listed methods. It requires eggs to be extracted from a donor or the intended carrier, whichever is best for your family, then matching those eggs with sperm from a donor or from one, or both, fathers! Embryos will develop to approximately 3-7 days old, and then be transferred into the carrier’s uterus. This is relatively the same process as surrogacy and involves a protocol of medications and lots of monitoring. It is certainly the most expensive but is sometimes the only option. IVF typically has a 40% success rate, but it truly varies per clinic and their different protocols.

Surrogacy

If you are considering surrogacy to grow your family, here are the things you should be considering!

Traditional Surrogate VS Gestational Carrier

  • Traditional Surrogacy involves using the carrier’s egg, so she would be biologically related to the baby. This may involve home insemination, in clinic insemination, IUI, or the full IVF process (extracting her eggs, creating an embryo or multiple embryos, and transferring the embryo(s) into her uterus).
  • A gestational carrier is simply hosting the embryo(s) and they are not directly biologically related to her; though if it is a a cousin, sister, daughter or any other relative, they will be distantly related. This involves basically the second half of IVF where ovulation is suppressed, lining is thickened, and embryo(s) are transferred. Progesterone and estrogen are supplemented to sustain pregnancy.

Review the laws of surrogacy in the SURROGATE’S home state, as those will be the laws that apply, not your home state. Read laws state by state here.

The process leading up to becoming an intended parent are as follows:

  • Decide on an Agency or Choose to go Independent (aka “INDY”)
  • Medical Evaluation
  • Disease/Drug Screening
  • Psychological Screening
  • Match With Your Surrogate of Choice & Pay for her to go through her process
  • Build up an escrow account for surrogate compensation, medical expenses and a little extra to cover bases
  • Decide on a lawyer to do your contracts
  • Provide sperm and/or eggs to clinic of choice to make into embryos to freeze or use fresh

You might be wondering, what is the process that the surrogate goes through?

  • Requirements: Must be between 21 and 50 (generally), not be on any type of government financial assistance (food stamps, WIC, or any variety of that), have had at least one healthy, complication-free and term pregnancy and be raising said child. People who have had gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, antenatal depression, pre-term delivery, hyperemesis gravidarum, placenta accreta, or any other complication may not qualify.
  • Background Check
  • Medical Evaluation (includes hysteroscopy, pap smear, pelvic exam, blood work)
  • Drug/Disease Tests
  • Psychological Screening
  • Follow all steps necessary to complete all necessary evaluations, contracts and follow RE protocol to raise chance of pregnancy

Contracts are so very important, so be sure to discuss these and more, in-depth, when considering matching with a surrogate.

  • Place of Birth (Hospital, birth center, home?)
  • Compensation (plus lost wages, gas, transfer fee, complication fees, any other fees that may need to be considered.. How will it be broken up, monthly, bimonthly, lump sum, etc?)
  • SET or DET (This is how many embryos you will transfer)
  • What circumstances is termination requested?
  • Involvement & Contact
  • Medical Decisions
  • Surrogate Providing Breastmilk
  • Placenta?
  • Ask questions if you are confused, make sure you and the surrogate are in AGREEMENT before either of you sign, or this may cause future conflict. Do not rush!
  • Contracts must be notarized

Once the surrogate gives birth, you will work out any final payments or paperwork that needs to be done, and you will take home your baby/babies!

Interested in Adoption?

If you decide that adoption IS for you, after considering these options, be sure to check out the laws in your state! You can find a state-by-state guide here.

Final Thoughts

A note about pronouns, respect and understanding for LGBT families in pregnancy, birth and postpartum: Please be sure you use a provider that respects you and your family enough to use proper pronouns. If you prefer non-binary or alternative pronouns, or non-gender specific references as opposed to ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ for example. If they cannot respect you enough to make this simple change, they will likely not respect you in birth, either!

Enjoy building your family!

With all our love and support, HERBAL.

 

Natural Fertility Boosters You Probably Haven’t Tried

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When you are struggling to conceive, you will try just about everything to get you that BFP (that is, Big Fat Positive), but is what the doctors are recommending truly effective? What side effects do they have? What alternatives are there?

When you walk into a reproductive endocrinologist’s office, they will want to first know how long you have been trying and probably want to run a slew of tests on you and your partner, and depending on what they discover, they may want to order you some sort of prescription, perhaps Clomid or Progesterone supplementation.

These drugs, while they can absolutely be helpful in conception when needed, can take a toll on your body and lead to a very uncomfortable pregnancy with more symptoms than necessary. They include side effects such as: bloating, pelvic pain, blurred vision, eye sensitivity, liver damage, yellowing of the skin/eyes, hot flashes, nausea, migraines, heavy bleeding, sore breasts, restlessness, hypersensitivity, vaginal dryness, ectopic pregnancy, hemorrhage, vision loss, fetal heart defects, chest pain, hypertension, fetal dwarfism, cysts, cancer, hair loss, acne, allergic reaction, weight gain, placental complications, and more.

Natural Approaches to Fertility

Here at HERBAL, we say, let’s not be too hasty with the drugs!

Here are some suggestions that may work for you in a more natural way before relying on the doctor’s notes…

Increasing the fat and protein in your diet! That’s right, we said it! And no, you will not gain a ton of weight doing this, it is extremely nourishing to your body. Your adrenals require nutrition to work adequately, and if you are binging on carbs and starving yourself of fats and proteins to avoid weight gain, you are starving your adrenals and thyroid, which directly impact your fertility. Even if you are eating plenty of nutrients, you could not be digesting them with poor gut health and poorly functioning digestive system. Give your gallbladder a boost with Betaine HCL plus Pepsin (this is a good one), which helps increase the bile and boosts digestion, Yellow dock (I recommend this tea) will also improve your gallbladder health. Taking a probiotic (this one) is an excellent choice, as well. Coffee or saline enemas may be in your future, if you could have parasites (and most people do), to clear out the gut even more so!

Evaluate how much iron, methylfolate and methylcobalamin (B12) you have in your body. If you are deficient, your body is not focused on reproducing, it is focused on getting you better and absorbing as much as possible for YOU, before you can support another life. Make sure the folate and B12 you select is METHYLATED, otherwise, it has poor bioavailability and may be even more toxic to you than helpful. Black strap molasses and dark leafy greens are a great source of iron, but if you are anything like me, severely anemic, you may need more than that. If you are looking for a supplement, Ritual is a great brand, so is Hemaplex (side note: ALWAYS label read, do not just take our word for it, but investigate those ingredients!) Increasing your vitamin C will also increase your iron absorption and too much calcium blocks your absorption.

Castor oilEw, what?! How does a laxative help me? Wait.. don’t run! We aren’t telling you to drink it at all! Instead, warm some castor oil to body temp and give yourself a deep abdominal massage, nightly. Going in a circular motion all across your abdomen, high and low, and even into your thighs, can not only moisturize and heal your skin, but it can improve your fertility by enhancing blood flow and circulation to your reproductive organs. Look into the Mayan Fertility Massage, and make sure to do it every night! If you are in your fertile window, maybe even have your partner do it.. It may lead to a baby in many ways! (Do not use this massage if you think you have conceived or if your pregnancy has been confirmed, it can stimulate miscarriage.)

Wild Yam Root – This yummy root naturally balances your progesterone and estrogen levels. Wild yam also relaxes muscles so if you have an irritable uterus that is causing you to struggle to conceive, wild yam may be your answer. You can find this in creams, capsules, teas and more.

Vitex (Chasteberry) -Chasteberry is a wild plant. It works by stimulating dopamine production in the brain, balancing the levels of prolactin, estrogen, progesterone and LH in the body. It can also stimulate opioid receptors, giving you a little buzz or pain relief from strong menstrual cramps! It is also beneficial in balancing melatonin, helping you sleep. It is a natural inflammatory, which is of large benefit to those with endometriosis. There have been several studies around the world showing the benefits of chasteberry for fertility enhancement, PMS relief, reduction of menopause symptoms, inflammation, acne, excessive body hair and uterine fibroids against a placebo!! There is science behind the claims which is always a plus! You can find it in the wild and pick it yourself if you know what you’re looking for.. as well as purchase a tincture or supplement of it at your local herb or health food store.

Bee Pollen – Can restore damaged ovaries and balance hormones, also very nutritious and gives life to all cells, and easy to add to smoothies. Bee propolis and royal jelly are also extremely beneficial, and for some, more so, than bee pollen. Bee propolis has been evaluated in studies for endometriosis and shows substantial benefit, in comparison to the placebo group.

Maca – Maca contains an array of health benefits, not just for fertility! It contains more calcium than a glass of milk, iodine for your thyroid, a natural muscle builder and toner, emotional well-being, improves memory and focus, aides sleep, and reduces hot flashes/menopausal symptoms. Women are suggested to consume red maca, while men consume black maca, for fertility.

Shatavari – Shatavari is an overall health rejuvenator and is cooling to the body. It is slightly bitter, so mixing with honey, whether in powder, tincture, or tea form, is likely best. You can also order capsules. It is part of the asparagus family, and supports health blood flow, good digestion, may balance breast milk production, and aides in lung health (increasing all over oxygen). This complete rejuvenation to your body can boost your fertility!

Ashwaghanda – This is an adaptogen, which means that it helps your body manage stress and helps the body find balance, whether it is functioning poorly or in over-drive. It is one of the most critical herbs in Ayurvedic medicine which helps balance blood sugar, induces apoptosis (the death of cancer cells), reduces cortisol, increases sperm count and mobility, increases muscle strength, reduce inflammation and more!! It is truly a versatile and necessary herb.

Damiana – Damiana is a natural libido enhancer for both males and females. It relaxes you, makes you feel calm, help you sleep and can even aide ovulation.

Inositol – A natural blood sugar balancer that aides the digestive system and reproductive organ health. This pseudo vitamin (considered B8), synthesized from yeast to create a glucose like structure, may provide relief for those suffering with anxiety, Type II diabetes and PCOS. Studies show no ill effects on the brain, only positive, including increased mood and attention span. It also does not impact liver or kidney health in a negative way like other fertility, mental health and diabetic treatments. It works by decreasing testosterone in the body. Compared to Metformin, Inositol performed at over 40% success rate for improving fertility versus Metformins success rate of only 11%. It is safe for breastfeeding as well as safe for children, including for treatment of ADHD. Inositol is even theorized to be a cancer cell destroyer! A combination of myo-inositol and d-chiro inositol makes it most bio-available and effective in the body!

Your emotional well-being is important too, if you are stressed, depressed, or any other negative feelings, it can hinder your ability to conceive! A blend of Lemon Balm, Dandelion, Nettle, Oatstraw, and Red Clover can aide in not only emotional balancing, but nutrients and gentle detox, as well.

If your stress is caused by high blood pressure, like a high stress job that triggers your adrenaline, or you just get anxious thinking about trying to conceive, try some cayenne or yarrow! They are both blood pressure balancers, can balance your menstrual flow and improve blood circulation all around the body.

What are some other supplements you used for conception? We would love to hear from you!

Happy Conception!! <3

 

Having TWO uteruses and cervixes – An Anatomy Anomaly

Have you ever heard of someone being pregnant but never noticing because they still had a period? How about someone who was pregnant but conceived again while pregnant, carrying two babies? It is possible! There are many variables that could cause this to happen. Today, we are going to talk about a few variations of the uterus!

bicornuate-uterus

There are many variations of Uterus. One of the most common congenital anomalies would be a biocornuate uterus, otherwise known as a heart-shaped uterus! It is estimated that a bicornuate uterus is seen in 1-5/1,000 women. You very well may know someone personally that has a heart-shaped uterus. There are many different variations of bicornuate uterus though. Some more severe than others. It can increase pregnancy and birth complications but most go on to deliver perfectly healthy babies!

uterus 7

There is also what is called a didelphys uterus! This is where there are TWO wombs! This is one way a woman could be pregnant but still have a period the entire pregnancy. This isn’t super common, many might not even know this is possible! Statistics say that 1 in every 3,000 people women will have a didelphys uterus.

With a double uterus, there is also a double cervix, as shown above. YES – 2 cervixes!

uterus 9

A didelphys uterus can be either unicollis, with 1 vagina OR bicollis, with 2 separate vaginas! Yes, a woman can have 2 vaginas! Many with this anomaly do not realize this until they begin menstruating and notice that they still bled after inserting a tampon into their vagina. They continue to bleed because it is the OTHER vagina that is bleeding! Another reason a woman could be pregnant and still have a period her entire pregnancy, leaving her unaware of conception.

These uterine anomalies are the result of the Mullerian Duct failing to fuse correctly when the female is developing in her mother’s womb. There is no known cause of this at the current time. There are many different variations of uteri that haven’t been covered in this short blog, but it is interesting to see (in the image below) how many variations there are!

uterus5

 

Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby!

Sex is such a taboo topic in our society, isn’t it?? But… why?? If we were more open and proud about our sensuality and sexuality, perhaps we would be able to solve more issues such as painful sex, boring sex, or even, lack thereof. There are so many variables and subjects to discuss in sex, but let’s really dig into motherhood and sex, because, well, we are more experienced in that variation of sex, than let’s say, exhibitionism for example, but hey, if that is your thing – own it!

Trying to conceive, whether it is your first or last, can be rough on your sex life because it can turn sex into a chore, when it should be fun, and bonding. The best way to re-vision this is that you are not scheduling sex, you are scheduling bonding and intimacy time. Make it into a date, if you can, even if it is just a “Netflix and Chill” kind of date in your living room, after the older kids are in bed. Throw on a film thats inappropriate, funny or scary, and cuddle up with some pistachios and chocolate (yum… well-known and science backed aphrodisiacs) and enjoy each other.

Preventing Pregnancy

When you are trying to PREVENT conception, sex can be intimidating, especially considering us natural-minded mamas that choose not to use hormonal birth control, but really are not prepared to get pregnant again, yet, or ever. Condoms are an option… but have you heard about Neem? Neem has been studied and proven to kill sperm on contact. A male can safely ingest this in neem caps, or by tincture (but just a heads up, it does not taste or smell great, at all), or you can use a Neem oil based lubricant.

Our friend over at How He’s Raised makes this lubricant that is safe and effective.

Also, you really need to consider tracking your fertility, with temping, watching your cervical mucus and checking cervical positioning! We have a video all about it that you can watch here.

Sex During Pregnancy

For pregnant women, sex can be difficult too. You may be overstimulated, exhausted, sore, nauseous, all of the above, and then some. When you feel up to it, sex is amazing for labor preparation, as it stimulates oxytocin release, and semen has natural prostaglandins in it that soften the cervix. Do not worry though, baby will not be harmed. Your cervix and the amniotic and chorionic sacs are protecting baby in your belly and they actually benefit from the oxytocin release, as well.

img_0913

Having Sex Postpartum

Sex postpartum!! This is one of the worst experiences I went through, personally. With my first, I had an episiotomy and husband stitch (GAG) so I was sore beyond even bearing my own touch after using the bathroom for about 12 weeks or so, let alone attempting sex! Eventually my scar tissue kind of broke itself up enough to be “comfortable” but I was still in pain, every time, especially in positions that increased depth. It wasn’t until 3 years later, when I finally saw a Pelvic Floor Therapist after birthing the surrogate twins, that I realized how much scar tissue I had, and how much I could actually ENJOY sex again. It can make us feel like lesser when we cannot participate in sex postpartum, the way that we used to, especially after our first baby. We may believe that sex will never be the same again and that our spouses will always be longing for someone else. It is okay to be a different type of sexy, you are mama sexy now! You have wider hips for holding, bigger thighs for squeezing, stretch marks for kissing, and such. Paint your body into the beautiful womanly figure that it is. Practice mirror therapy to encourage self-confidence.

Final Thoughts

Attend a sex retreat if you can! Seriously, my husband and I had one of the most fun and bonding times together as a couple, at a sex retreat. Now, this is definitely not what you are envisioning when you think sex retreat. We did not take a field trip to the dungeon and have a mass orgy for three days straight, but we went out into nature with other couples and singles, played games involving learning about different sexual fetishes, aligned our chakras, practiced couple bonding, chatted with others about their stories and where they came from, did yoga in the nude, had some really yummy food, and made love under the stars. I highly encourage looking into Moksha Magick if you ever get an opportunity, the ceremonies are mesmerizing and enlightening.

Eye gazing can stimulate bonding and increased sexual energy whether you are TTC, freshly postpartum or just doing it, in general.

Sex is a beautiful thing, and not something to be shameful of, by any means. If you are struggling with pain, lack of libido, or anything else that makes sex unpleasurable, please seek someone to help! There are many herbs that can balance hormones to increase libido, and a pelvic floor therapist can do wonders for pain during sex.

Love yourself and make love as you please!

 

What Makes HERBAL Different From Other Doula Certification Programs

Doula certification organizations are not all the same! It is very important to be sure you know the morals and standards of a certifying program before purchasing. Be sure you can stand behind their beliefs! Many organizations have rules, obligations, additional fees, etc. Be informed before purchasing!

Most all Doula & Birthkeeper certification programs will speak about and cover the following topics:

  • Birth work timeline/ Birth History/ Provider history
  • Antenatal/Prenatal
  • Physiological birth process
  • Assisted birth options and how to assist in each scenario
  • Pain management techniques
  • Post partum/ 4th trimester

The topics directly related to birth and the Doula’s role. We also discuss all of this in full in the HERBAL program.

But How is HERBAL Different?

At HERBAL we cover topics other programs might not discuss. A few of those topics would be:

  • Unassisted birth – how to support those who choose this option (YES, we support unassisted birthing women)
  • Birth emergencies – signs to look for and what to do in these scenarios
  • Fertility – how to track your cycle; the hormone process involved
  • Everything breastfeeding (with no additional cost!)
  • Bereavement and loss – how to support those who experience loss
  • Parenting choices
  • Nutrition
  • Homeopathy & Herbs/tinctures
  • Essential oils through out motherhood
  • Cultural awareness in birth – how to support those in other cultures as well as things to be aware of in how they are treated differently.
  • LGBTQ- how to better serve this community
  • Recognizing Domestic violence – addressing abuse in pregnancy; how to handle clients struggling with domestic violence
  • Self care in birth work – how to keep yourself safe in your work
  • Business guidance – how to get started; business-related pointers

We cover a great deal that is not covered in other programs. We feel this extra amount of information is necessary to better serve our mamas! This is also where Birthkeeping differs from Doula work. HERBAL Birthkeepers hold more holistic knowledge than your average Doula certification program.

What Else Does HERBAL Offer?

We also have a Placenta Encapsulation Specialist certification course as well which is available in the HERBAL program. This would teach the different placenta variations, how to properly examine, handle and prepare a placenta for consumption, and more! The cost of this program is $100. Most other programs do not have this certification option.

A few other added bonuses we have that others might not, are:

  • No additional costs – some require re-certification fees or additional charges, we do not – EVER.
  • Private student forum – We have a forum for our students to reach out and discuss various topics, share stories, ask questions, and fellowship with like minded women. Our students are added to this group upon enrollment and reaching out to one of the founders.
  • Payment plans – we are very flexible. Our main goal is to educate and empower women; revenue is not our purpose. We can make payment plans to help fit your budget, all you have to do is ask!
  • Scholarships – we give away multiple scholarships, to many woman, for many different reasons. Again, we are out to educate and empower. Revenue was never the priority.
  • Hands on workshop trainings across the US – there has been one held so far in our mere 3 months of HERBAL being open. We have 2 more planned for the year of 2019, stay tuned for details! These are optional and not mandatory!
  • Spanish translations- we are in the works of translating all of our course modules into the Spanish language so that we can reach more women, in diverse communities – and we couldn’t be more excited! This opens so many doors!
  • Audio recorded modules – We are also in the works of translating all of our course content into audio videos that can be listened to. We are hoping this opens more doors and makes our course accessible to others who may have disabilities.

We also have far fewer “rules” and “regulations” than your average Doula certification program. We feel women shouldn’t be confined in how they love on and support families. Here are a few examples of how we might differ from another Doula certification program:

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Whichever program you choose to go with, be sure you can agree with their views and morals. There is not a certification program that is perfect for everyone, but there is definitely one out there for anyone who desires to certify! Be sure you pick the right one for YOU!

Egg Donation: Risks For A Natural Mama

You want to give back to society with the extra that you have, and make a little extra money, seems easy, right?

There are many ads that pop up on Google, Facebook, the radio, and more, encouraging women to do a great service by donating their eggs and market the process as short and simple for $6000+ WHAT?! What a deal!

…..but here is what they DON’T tell you.

The process of egg donation is as follows, the same as the first half of IVF, known as a stimulation protocol:

Before you can even think about medications, you have several steps to go through, that are unpaid, and sometimes, out of your own pocket, to start. This includes a fertility screening through vaginal ultrasound and may even include a saline hysteroscopy. Blood tests will be drawn and a general pelvic exam will be performed. You will be checked for blood type, drug use, titers, infectious diseases, and general health. You and your partner will likely be required to go through an STD panel. You will be checked for genetic disorders and your family history of health issues will be analyzed in depth. Then you will go through a psychological screening to make sure you are sane, consenting to this process and have intentions beyond the dollar value. You will have an opportunity to speak with the reproductive endocrinologist that will make your protocol and perform your retrieval, it is very important that you ask and they share all the potential risks you can encounter. If they do not disclose this to you in full, RUN AWAY.

You will be put on birth control until you begin your medication protocol. This is to align your cycle with the recipients cycle, so they can immediately get the recipient pregnant, with your eggs, if there is a parent on stand-by! Otherwise, it is done so that the clinic is in control of your cycle and dates that they will begin specific medications, to align with scheduling convenience of the retrieval procedure.

First, you will need a medication to suppress your body’s natural LH (luteinizing hormone) surge and ovulation, until a bundle of eggs are ready to be released. This may be a GnRH-agonist or GnRH-antagonist. The medications that may be used include Lupron, Ganirelix, Cetrotide, Firmagon, Elagolix, Plenaxis, Zoladex, Trelstar, Vantas, Synarel and more. These same medications are used to prevent puberty in children that may want to go through hormone therapy to shift gender.

Side effects of these medications include bone softening, headaches, nausea, low libido, dizziness, hot flashes, weight loss or gain, yeast infections, swelling, skin peeling, severe depression, seizures, urinary tract blockage, liver damage, and incontinence of bowels. These medications have been linked to an increase in diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These medications are typically injections that will need to be injected into your lower abdomen daily.

Next, they will give you a FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) product to stimulate the production of multiple eggs. Examples of medications you may use for this, include Follistim, Bravelle, Menopur and Gonal-F, which are also injections. Side effects may be headache, bloating, pain, vaginal bleeding, fever, severe swelling, fatigue, dizziness, stroke, labored breathing and hives. This is done for about 7-12 days until the clinic has deemed that enough eggs have been developed.

Then, you are given an HCG “trigger shot” for final maturation of the eggs, for extraction. They have to monitor you very closely at this point for several risks, including OHSS and release of eggs pre-extraction.

This stage is where OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) can occur. This is a very serious syndrome, involving risks such as rapid weight gain, severe abdominal pain, extreme nausea and vomiting, blood clots, lack of urination, ovarian torsion, hospitalization, and even death. It can develop anywhere from 1-10 days of the trigger shot. It occurs only 3-6% of the time, fortunately, but it is something to be mindful of.

Using a reproductive endocrinologist familiar with Prolonged Coasting can decrease your risk of developing OHSS, should you decide to move forward with egg donation.

When eggs are ready to be retrieved, the doctor will use a speculum to slightly open the cervix and insert a needle with suction, guided by abdominal ultrasound, to gently pull the eggs out. This procedure can be slightly uncomfortable and cause bloating and cramps immediately to follow. Infection and injury is also a minor risk of the egg retrieval. If you have had any reactions to a form of anesthesia, be sure to let the doctor know, or you may not want to move forward with egg donation, as they may use a form of anesthesia on you for the procedure.

Doctors say that an egg donor can return to their normal activities, the day following the procedure, but based on egg donor experiences, recovery can take about a week or so before the woman actually feels normal enough to get back to her routine, some can hardly even get out of bed. So, be sure to prepare effective childcare and work coverage, if you choose to move forward with egg donation.

Make sure, that the egg donation agency you go through, provides you with health insurance and life insurance coverage, in the event that something terrible happens to you as a result from medication or any procedures within the donation process. This is absolutely essential and if they do not provide this, they are not reliable.

In the long-term, many egg donors have reported that they have developed breast, colon, ovarian and/or cervical cancer. There are not enough studies to prove direct correlation, but many studies are following egg donors closely, due to the reports. This will be crucial to know, in years to come, so there can be true informed consent in the egg donation process. All agencies, until it is proven, are legally allowed to say that there are no long-term effects of egg donation. It is important to keep this in mind, regardless of the fact that there are not enough studies to fully back the claim yet, and also be mindful of the fact that egg donation can permanently disrupt your own fertility, and you should be done with your own family 100% before moving forward with egg donation.

It also must be known, that egg donation agencies will write-off your compensation as a tax reduction on their part, and you will receive a 10-99 in the mail, come tax time, so be prepared to put aside 15% of the income you receive as an egg donor, to give back to the IRS or be prepared for them to come looking for it!

Egg donation can be a beautiful thing, and make someone a mother, do not get me wrong, I get it… BUT it is important for you to also have complete informed consent, because the egg donation agencies are looking out for their pockets, not for the individuals trying to help someone.

Best of luck!

-Taylor