Egg donation is gaining popularity all over the world and Estonia is no exception. However, there are various questions and misconceptions about donation, which can be refuted in particular by the real stories of real people. Inna, who donated eggs at the Next Fertility Nordic clinic, shares her story about her donation experience.
Why did you decide to become an egg donor? Do you know any women that have needed donor eggs?
My decision to become an egg donor was quite spontaneous and essentially uninformed. I had never thought about it before, I didn’t even know much about it, but it just so happened that on my own birthday, I saw an advertisement for the Next Fertility Nordic clinic’s donor programme on my Facebook news feed and for some reason I immediately clicked on it and started reading about it. It is somehow very symbolic that I noticed this on my birthday…
However, that is where the idea came from, and after reading about the process on the clinic’s website, I decided to apply and see whether and how it would work out. Of course, I hoped that I would be a suitable donor because the more I read about it and the more I thought about it, the more heartwarming it seemed to help someone fulfil such a dream.
I do not personally know any women in my circle of acquaintances who have needed donor assistance. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they don’t exist; people just don’t necessarily talk about it outside their homes because it is a very personal topic.
Before becoming a donor, candidates undergo a thorough health check. Did you receive feedback on the tests and analyses performed on you? Was this feedback helpful in terms of your overall health?
The health check was indeed thorough, but as it did not reveal anything unexpected or that would rule out donation, the feedback didn’t have to be very long. I was very happy to hear that everything was fine, and in hindsight, I felt more at ease knowing that my health was properly checked.
Did participating in the egg donation programme significantly affect your daily life?
It certainly changed my daily life a bit; mainly, I had to find time for doctor’s appointments to keep track of the process and, of course, inject myself regularly on a daily basis. Considering that it was all temporary, it wasn’t anything disturbing or disruptive, just like a new habit for a few weeks. I also had to limit my exercise during that time and take care of myself more, but a little vacation is always welcome.
I definitely had to plan my time better, since the injections have to be done on a very precise schedule. I remember one humorous incident from the last cycle when my friends and I wanted to go to the cinema, but the film lasted longer than my injection time. So, I just brought the medications with me in my bag and discreetly went to the restroom to inject myself at the right time. When I came back, my friends told me what I missed, and it was like I never even left.
The egg donation process consists of several stages: conversations, analyses, examinations, preparatory treatment and egg donation. What stage was the most difficult for you in this process? What was the most positive?
I have never really thought of it as a difficult endeavour, so it is hard to pinpoint something from that aspect. In hindsight, perhaps the most challenging part was just getting started, when I first started donating. Since it was a completely foreign field to me and I didn’t know what to do or how to do it, the settling in and waiting for feedback on whether I was suitable was perhaps the most uncertain part.
Other than that, it was like a regular visit to the doctor, just much more thorough. However, every staff member at the clinic—truly, every last one—was incredibly helpful and supportive throughout the process.
Everything was explained very thoroughly and understandably, so it really is impossible to say that anything was difficult. All my questions were answered before I even had the chance to ask them, and thanks to the support of the staff, the entire process went very smoothly and was completely stress-free.
There are truly amazing people at the clinic who always create a very warm, welcoming and caring feeling in me, making the whole process extremely positive.
Alright, I must admit that I was most worried about the injection – I had to do it myself… I am not afraid of needles or injections, I even donate blood and never have any problems. When the needle is inserted, I can even watch it happen and nothing happens to me, but the part of injecting myself seemed a bit overwhelming for a while; I didn’t know how I would manage it. It turned out that it was actually very simple and much more comfortable than I dared to think.
I believe many people can relate to this concern because fear and discomfort of needles is quite common. Now, based on my own experience, I can say that if it’s not a real phobia, there’s no need to be afraid at all; the needles are very thin and very sharp, and if you don’t look at them, you wouldn’t even know they are going into your skin. It really is one quick pinch and done!
Did you have any preconceptions about gamete donation before? Has that changed?
I didn’t have any preconceptions, not even an opinion, about gamete donation. Of course, I knew it existed, but before I became a donor myself, I didn’t think much about it, if at all. It seemed like blood donation; those who can, give to those who need it.
In fact, a lot more planning and preparation goes into it, a huge amount of work needs to be done and an ideal schedule has to be set up and followed to ensure that all the stages run smoothly for everyone involved and that all the effort pays off in the end. Let’s say that if I underestimated the undertaking before, I certainly do not now.
Do your family or friends know that you have donated your eggs? How do they feel about it?
My mother and my close circle of friends know and the feedback has only been positive. My friends were very supportive during the active donation cycle and were interested in how everything was going and how I was feeling, so I had support outside of the clinic as well.
What advice would you give to young women who are considering becoming an egg donor?
I would definitely recommend it. It is a good opportunity to get detailed feedback on your health to start with. Of course, the final decision must come from within, but showing interest and getting tests done is not a definitive yes. There is time to think things through.
There is no pressure; donating eggs is as personal a decision as deciding to start a family, but I would still recommend at least taking the plunge. Everything will fall into place exactly as it needs to.
Do we have any hope of seeing you again in our clinic?
I would come again anytime. Both to donate eggs and to just visit.