Was egg donation painful for me?
The short answer is, it didn’t hurt much. In this blog, I’ll walk you through my personal journey of donating my eggs and any levels of pain or discomfort I felt along the way.
I have moderate pain tolerance, and being a tad stubborn on top of that makes it easier for me to do things that are important to me, but aren’t inherently “pleasant”. The one trait you will need for a successful donation cycle is motivation. This one thing will allow you to make it through the egg donor process without any snags and make for a very positive, powerful, and fulfilling experience.
The first time I had to give myself an injection I was nervous. I tried to psych myself out and started to get a teensy bit panicky when it finally came down to doing the first one. These needles, mind you, are TINY. I’m talking baby needles. So, honestly, I was being a little bit of a wimp. But once I finally got the first injections out of the way, it became so much easier! This is also an area where it can help to have a little body fat on your tummy or inner thighs (the injection site decided by your individual clinic), as that will make it easier for you to give yourself the little shots.
You should barely feel the needles, but depending on what type of hormone therapy you are given, you may experience a warming sensation near an injection site. My injection sites never once bruised or became swollen, but there was some mild itching toward the last few injections.
All in all, not too difficult except to get past my mind block the first time. Not painful.
When you are an egg donor, your ovaries are stimulated by the injections to hold onto more of the eggs they would normally let go. Ovaries are simply used to having 1 or 2 eggs prepped for fertilization. But when you are donating eggs, the injections tell your body to hold onto as many eggs as possible. They say “all of you stay right here and get ready for fertilization.”
So, it should come as no surprise that you will probably feel a little bloated, and maybe a little tense around your ovaries. I only started to feel “bloaty” around the last day or so before egg retrieval (hello, yoga pants). The slight tension I could feel from the weightiness of my ovaries lasted for around a week.
If you are an athletic person, you’ll also have to abstain from many types of exercise. Walking is your best friend! That way you’ll be able to get out and move, but not risk displacing one of your happy gradually-plumping ovaries.
Some may find it “painful” to abstain from intercourse. This could be from personal desire, or maybe their partner gets frustrated with them. Communicate and make it clear that any intercourse during the egg stimulation process (3-4 weeks in duration) can increase your likelihood of becoming pregnant (with several babies, for that matter).
My husband was in the military, and when he was deployed, we could go for up to 7 months without intimacy. So let’s just say, we had practice with celibacy. I also had 100% of his support with the donation, and he never made it seem like he was unhappy that we couldn’t have sex for a few weeks. It was only a few weeks, nothing you can’t get through for such a great cause!
Honestly, this is the easiest part. Retrieval was not uncomfortable or painful. Being the mother of a toddler myself, I looked at it as a chance to get an uninterrupted nap! I was put under general anesthesia after walking myself into the retrieval room and getting wrapped in warm blankets. It was not scary. It was, dare I say it, cozy.
Granted, I did have to get an IV, and I’ve never met anyone who said those don’t hurt a little. But it’s just a small part and you’ll forget about it as soon as it’s in there (at least I did)!
You’ll only be “under” for a short amount of time. The retrieval procedure usually takes less than 30 minutes, and once you’re awake, you’ll be monitored for a little while then sent home.
You won’t be able to drive because you’ll still be a little loopy from the anesthesia, so have a friend or family member bring you home and video you on their phone for you to laugh at later.
For me, after surgery I just stayed in bed and slept the rest of the day. The day after I was only sore with what felt like period cramps. Some Tylenol and a heating pad had me feeling fine, but I stayed in bed just to rest up enough to go back to work the next day.
The second day after surgery, I was back at my desk job drinking a lot of Gatorade and doing my work with a heating pad on my belly. All in all, I felt fine! I was up and walking around more, and by the day after going back to work, I felt great. I was ready to do it all again, and now 2 months later I’m in another donation cycle.
I hope this helps you get a better idea of what being an egg donor is actually like: besides some minor temporary discomfort, it is so empowering and worth every step!
The blog above was written by Emily, a current egg donor in Fairfax EggBank’s donor egg program. Read her other blog about why she decided to become an egg donor here.
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