Telling your Child about their Birth via Surrogacy

Many parents find the conversation about birth and where babies come from to be an uncomfortable discussion to have with their children. This topic may be difficult to talk about at first, but telling the truth and being honest with your children is always the best solution.

If your child’s birth story involves surrogacy, the conversation can be more overwhelming. However, surrogacy is an important part of your child’s story. Many people agree that it is important to be honest with how your child was born, as surrogacy is a significant part of them.

There are many reasons to talk to your child openly and honestly about surrogacy. Here are some tips for introducing and discussing this topic with your loved one.

  • A heavy burden is placed on intended parents, as well as friends and family members to conceal the surrogacy story
  • Lying or failing to tell the truth about your child’s story can create issues of shame, guilt and distrust, as well as a negative view of surrogacy
  • Lastly, donor-conceived children risk receiving inaccurate medical information if they don’t have access to their donor’s family medical history

When and How to tell your Child’s Surrogacy Story

Many intended parents recognize the importance of explaining surrogacy to their child. The hard part however is how to approach the topic.

Some put off this conversation until their child is old enough to understand. However, waiting to tell them can have negative consequences. It is recommended that you talk about your surrogacy experience with your child immediately. Very young children are often the most open-minded and are able to process this information.

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Preparing to Talk about Surrogacy

Intended parents sometimes need help to tell the story in an age-appropriate way. Start preparing to tell their story even before they are born. Gather information about the surrogacy process and your personal journey with it. Take pictures and document the process of the pregnancy. This way your child will have visuals and understand everyone that was involved in creating their life.

When your baby is born, begin telling them their story as an infant, even though they may not understand. The more practice you have telling it, the more comfortable you will be when your child is ready to really hear their story.

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Steps of the Typical IVF Cycle

Actually, the procedure of IVF (in vitro fertilization) conditionally consists of 3 stages, namely: ovarian stimulation, egg retrieval and the last one is embryo fertilization and implantation. However, these stages can be divided into steps that are needed for successfully conceiving, pregnancy and birth of a healthy child.

The theory of the IVF cycle seems simple. But in the reality one IVF cycle takes 4-6 weeks. In other words, a woman loses 4-6 weeks of her life. Therefore, it is very important to the couple who have dared at IVF have clear idea what to expect and are able to spend their time for different tests, procedures, monitoring, etc.

Typical IVF Cycle

In fact, IVF cycle differs from the usual menstrual cycle with that things that there is no ovulation during IVF. It does not occur, because the doctor removes the egg for artificial insemination. The embryos which are fertilized in the laboratory, are no different from the ordinary embryos.

The embryos which are fertilized in the laboratory, are no different from the ordinary embryos

Here is an approximate cycle of IVF. Of course, each cycle is different and depends on the nature and causes of infertility, hormone levels and many other factors. But this list will help you clearly understand what to expect.

  1. Woman’s menstrual cycle.

IVF cycle focused on the female menstrual cycle and depends on it. Beginning of the menstrual cycle is the beginning of your IVF. At this time, the patient begins to use oral contraceptives and / or Lupron. This allows the doctor to control the level of hormones in the blood and to predict the timing.

Lupron is used as an injection to complete the pre-stimulation ovarian suppression. These injections are done every day for about two weeks. Contraceptives should be taken from two to four weeks.

  1. Baseline.

The proper baseline is very important thing when it comes to IVF. It means, that there are no any large cysts in the ovary, hormone level of some hormones is low, and your uterine lining is thin, clear and ready to begin a new cycle. Violation of these conditions significantly reduces the chances of pregnancy. Therefore, before starting a cycle of IVF doctor assigns a hormonal treatment to eliminate these problems.

  1. Ovarian stimulation.

Well, your hormones and ovaries are in sync, and it’s just the time for ovarian stimulation process. To do this, the doctor uses hormone (or hormone combination) that contribute to the emergence of multiple eggs in the follicles during one cycle. Name and dosage of drugs depends on the diagnosis and situation.

The use of hormonal drugs entails a number of side effects. Therefore, at this time the doctor carefully monitors the health of the woman and helps her to cope with the emotional rollercoaster.

The ovarian stimulation process takes about 8-12 days. During this time, the condition of your follicles and eggs into them is controlled via ultrasound.

  1. Egg retrieval.

At this stage the timing is very important. You must come to the doctor in 36 hours after HCG injection: it’s time for egg retrieval. It is mildly invasive procedure, so patient needs anesthesia. For retrieving a doctor uses ultrasound directed follicular aspiration (UDFA).  Due to it the doctor can remove ripe eggs delicately.

  1. Egg fertilizing.

Within a few hours after the egg retrieval specialist fertilizes them with sperm of the partner or donor sperm. Three days later embryos are checked for viability. In 24-48 hours after it results will be known. If one (or more) of the embryos meet the necessary requirements, the doctor determines the day of their transfer into the uterus.

  1. Embryo transfer.

So we have come almost to the end of our road.

This procedure does not need anesthesia. The doctor uses a thin, tiny tube to transfer your five-day embryo into the uterus. As a rule, the doctor uses a single embryo, because multiple pregnancy implies great risk.

The embryos remaining after the procedure can be frozen for later use.

  1. Pregnancy testing.

At this stage, the main thing is to stay calm. During the first week after the transfer your embryo should be implanted in the uterus. If this happens, the body starts to produce a special hormone, showing that pregnancy has come. Approximately two weeks after the transfer of the patient makes a pregnancy test.

Tests can be carried out on days 10 – 14: they need to make sure that the implantation takes place safely.

If pregnancy has come, you can be designated progesterone to maintain it. This hormone reduces the likelihood of miscarriage. If the test is negative, you can do IVF again: the chance of pregnancy increases with each subsequent cycle.

Getting pregnant after 35: Everything you need to know

Getting pregnant after 35 years of age is becoming much more common than it used to be but women can still be concerned about the risks for mother and baby.

Egg production peaks between the ages of 24-26 and so having a baby at 35 or over can be an uphill struggle as your natural fertility has already taken a dramatic decrease.

We spoke to Fertility and Birth Expert at Great Vine, Susie Gower to talk us through what you need to know.

Susie believes that taking hold of your life, keeping healthy emotionally and physically then you have every chance of having a happy and healthy pregnancy after the age of 35.

“You can’t control your fertility but you can control your food, you can control your health and you can control your stress levels so it’s about controlling the things that you can to help boost what you can’t,” she says.

So what are the risks of having a baby after 35 and how can you keep them to a minimum? We’ve looked into all this plus how to boost your chances of conceiving and how to keep you and your baby healthy throughout your pregnancy. So for all the advice on getting pregnant after 35 read on…

What you can do to increase your chances of conceiving:

A woman’s fertility naturally decreases with age and so getting pregnant after 35 is not going to be as easy as if you were in your twenties, which is the natural peak of your fertility.

However even though chances of getting pregnant after 35 are going to decrease it does not necessarily mean that it won’t happen or that you will even have trouble at all.

Susie says the main thing that prohibits women over the age of 35 from getting pregnant is the worry and stress of not being able to fall pregnant.

The main thing to do before anything else is to let that go. Susie says: “With anyone over 35 their age can act as a mental and physical block when they are trying to get pregnant.

They can feel like they’ve passed the system and their own stresses and worries can reduce the chance of them conceiving.

But more and more women are having perfectly healthy pregnancies at that age. The main thing they can do is emotionally prepare themselves before addressing any of the physical things.”

The recipe for success is to: “Rest, relax and release,” says Susie. Reducing the levels of stress in your life has a dramatic result on your chances of conceiving so this is the place to start.

Other things that you can do to help yourself conceive are to firstly see a health professional as soon as possible so that they can assess you. They can create a health record that will keep any information about your menstrual cycle, previous pregnancies, and any health problems to make sure that you get the right help that you need as soon as you need.

Your doctor may refer you for certain tests, including a hormonal profile (also called a hormonal panel). This is a simple blood test taken the first to the third day of your menstrual cycle to measure the levels of reproductive hormones, including FSH, estrogen, and luteinizing hormone (LH) in your body. As well as this you can also have another test taken later on in your cycle, around the 21st to the 28th day to have your progesterone levels checked.

You should also be aware of when you are ovulating so that you can make the most of it. You can track your cycle on a calendar yourself or you can also invest in an ovulation predictor kit (OPK) to let you predict your most fertile days.

Seemingly simple, but incredibly important things like quitting smoking if you smoke or cutting out alcohol from your diet can dramatically improve your chance of conceiving. Keeping fit and healthy is also a great way to boost your chances of conceiving.

Eat foods that will boost your endocrine system like things chock full of omega 3, essential fatty acids, zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and fruit and veg containing antioxidant vitamins C, E, and beta-carotene.

If you’ve been trying to have a baby for over 6 months and have not had any success then it might be time to see a fertility specialist so that they can work out the best way for you and your partner to move forward.

It is also worth getting your partner’s fertility checked out at this point – it’s not just on you!

In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) treatment can be an option for some couples, but the success rates with this treatment also decrease with age so it is worth really talking this through with your partner and the health professional.

What you can do to make sure you have a healthy pregnancy:

If you are pregnant and are over 35, first of all – Congratulations! There are many things that you can do to make sure that your pregnancy is a healthy one.

Susie’s advice is: “When you are pregnant continue what you started when you were trying to conceive because your body will need the same things to create your baby.

Talk to your doctor about medication –
Some forms of over the counter or prescribed medicines are not suitable for pregnant women so once you have got the confirmation that you are pregnant talk to your doctor about any medication that you take.

Go to regular antenatal classes –
Because of the increased risks for pregnant women over the age of 35, it is incredibly important that you attend regular antenatal care. This means that doctors will be able to keep a close eye on you and if any problems do arise they will be able to treat you quickly. Meanwhile, you can get the support and counseling and childcare education that you need.

Maintain a healthy diet –
Don’t eat food that isn’t pasteurized; eat fresh fruit, lots of vegetables and drink lots of water, watch the mineral content of your cravings and where possible, try to go organic.

Exercise –
Susie wouldn’t recommend taking on any new exercises when you’re pregnant, so if you didn’t run before pregnancy, this is not the time to start. Before you think about getting pregnant it might be worth starting yoga classes so that you have a form of exercise that you can do while pregnant.

Keep relaxed –
This can be harder said than done but a happy mother is usually the key to a happy baby so take some time to really pamper yourself during your pregnancy. It’s worth doing things like spending quality time with your partner, reflexology or anything that makes you relaxed and content.

Supplements –
Taking regular supplements are a really good way to keep your baby healthy and boost the levels of serotonin, zinc and folic acid in the body.

Stop smoking/drinking –
Like when you were trying to conceive, smoking is not an option if you want a healthy pregnancy. While some women like to have the occasional alcoholic drink during pregnancy they are strongly advised not to, especially in the first 3 months as this can greatly increase the chances of miscarriage.

After that, women can drink 1-2 units every one or two weeks if they would like but it is uncertain what effects this might have on your baby so it is strongly unadvisable.

The risks:
There is no denying that having a baby after 35 years of age increases the risks from conception to birth as your natural egg reserve has already started to diminish but this does not mean that you will definitely encounter these problems.

The chance of miscarriage increases dramatically over the age of 35 and so in the first trimester of pregnancy it is very important that you see your health adviser regularly so they can help in any way to reduce the risk.

As well as this, there is an increased chance that if you do become pregnant, your baby could be born with a genetic abnormality, most notably Downs Syndrome, the number of cases is approximately 1 in 300 in pregnancies of women over 35. There are tests that will show if your baby has any genetic abnormalities at 10-12 weeks if you wish to take it and there are various options available including counseling to couples if this test shows anything.

There is also an increased risk for pregnant women over the age of 35 to develop high-blood pressure or diabetes which can be a big problem for your baby. There is also an increased risk of ectopic pregnancies as well as placenta previa (where the placenta lies low in the uterus, partially or completely covering the cervix), pre-eclampsia and placenta abruption (where the placenta separates from the uterine wall).

This all sounds scary but the more that you look after yourself, the larger the chance that your pregnancy will be as normal and healthy a pregnancy as someone in their twenties. So remember a healthy, happy you means a healthy, happy baby.

For more advice on pregnancy over the age of 35 consult your doctor.

How it Feels to Be a Surrogate Mother

This Surrogate’s Moving Facebook Post About Carrying Other Women’s Children Is Going Viral

“He was the second baby I placed in another mother’s arms.”

Australian nurse and mother Mel Holman has never had trouble getting pregnant, as she wrote in a message shared on her blog and on blogger Constance Hall’s Facebook page on Tuesday. When she realized that others did, she was compelled to take action. Now, her letter on the joy she finds in assisting would-be mothers through egg donation and surrogacy has gone viral.

“While working as a nurse, one day I came across a woman in tears. She was devastated after yet another round of failed IVF,” Holman wrote. “All I wanted to do was fix it for her.” Holman added that now, 18 babies have been born thanks to her donated eggs, and that a few weeks ago, she gave birth to “the second baby I placed in another mother’s arms” as a surrogate.

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According to the CDC, some 12 percent of women of reproductive age have trouble getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term. While fertility treatments are evolving, some aspiring mothers’ best option — especially if they don’t have eggs or their eggs are unhealthy — is to work with a surrogate who becomes pregnant using the would-be mom’s chosen sperm and the surrogate’s own egg.

Holman says that the women whose dreams of motherhood she helps realize exemplify persistence: “While supporting women through infertility, I am constantly amazed at the strength, resilience and determination of these women,” she wrote. “Most of all, their endless capacity to love and care for their sisterhood … Maybe you can’t change the world. But you can give the world to someone, and change their life.” The most-liked response to Holman’s post, meanwhile, expresses appreciation from the other side of the surrogate-mom relationship. “Feeling [grateful] to my very own beautiful surrogate who is carrying my baby for me. We have 6 weeks to go. I feel blessed,” one commenter wrote. Fertility struggles are devastating for so many. It’s heartening to see an example of one woman helping others overcome them and start their own families, and receiving their gratitude and compassion in return.

Is fertility treatment with donor eggs or embryos for me?

If you’re older than 40 or unable to become pregnant with your own eggs, donor eggs can help you conceive and deliver a baby. If you and your partner both have fertility problems, or if you’ve had repeated miscarriages because of embryo issues, donor embryos may be an option.

Single women with fertility problems can also conceive using donor eggs or embryos, and men without a female partner can become fathers by using donor eggs or embryos and a gestational carrier. (In certain states, however, there may be laws restricting unmarried people from using gestational carriers. Some embryo donation agencies also require clients to be married.)

If you’re at risk for passing a genetic disease to your child, donor eggs or embryos may be an option, though many couples prefer to try IVF using their own embryos that have been genetically tested to screen for inherited disorders.

Where do I start if I want to use donor eggs or embryos?

Give yourself plenty of time to find a donor. It can take months to choose someone and address the legal matters, and longer for you and the donor to complete all the necessary medical and psychological screenings. Using an egg bank can be quicker because many of these steps are completed before any eggs are frozen. Here’s how it works:

  • Find a donor. If you’re using donor eggs, decide whether to use eggs from a friend, family member, or anonymous donor. If you decide to use donor eggs from an anonymous donor, you can find one through a fertility clinic, a frozen egg bank, or an egg donation agency. You’ll usually be able to choose the donor based on physical characteristics, ethnic background, educational record, and occupation. Most egg donors are between 18 and 30 years old and have had medical and genetic screening. Be sure to ask how candidates are screened – some organizations do less extensive testing than others. If you decide to use donor embryos, look for embryo donation agencies (also called “embryo adoption” agencies) or fertility clinics with donation programs.
  • Get counseling. Once an agency or clinic finds a donor match, you and the donor get professional counseling on the medical, ethical, and emotional impact of the donation.
  • Make it legal. You and the donor may have lawyers draw up a contract that defines parental rights, financial obligations, and future contact. Laws vary from country to country, but donors usually sign away their rights to any children.

What to Pack in your Hospital Bag: Your Complete Checklist

Whether you’re a surrogate or going through a traditional pregnancy, after nine months of carrying the baby, your next step is the delivery. This exciting part can be surreal and go by quickly, so it’s important to have all the essentials ready to go. This includes everything that you’ll need during the labor and birth, and for after the baby is born.

It is good to have a bag packed by the time you are approximately 36 weeks pregnant. Hospitals vary in their policies about what you are allowed to bring with you when you have the baby. It is recommended that you pack two bags. One for yourself and another one for the baby.

What Should be Packed for Labor?

  • Your birth plan and maternity notes
  • Dressing gown. This will be useful if you end up pacing hospital corridors in early labor. Hospitals can be warm, so pack a lightweight one
  • Slippers/socks. Believe it or not, your feet can get cold during labor
  • An old t-shirt and extra underwear
  • A birth ball. This can help you get into a comfortable position during pregnancy, labor and after the baby is born
  • Lip balm. Your lips tend to dry out quickly during labor
  • Snacks and drinks. It’s important to stay hydrated. Sport drinks are good to have during your labor
  • Hairbands. Make sure you have something to hold your hair back if you have long hair
  • Pillows. These will make the environment more personal and comfortable
  • Breast and maternity pads
  • Toiletries including: a towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, hairbrush, and deodorant
  • Eye mask/ear plugs or anything that will help you sleep after the birth
  • A going home outfit. Loose, comfortable clothes for your journey home and time at the hospital will be needed

What to Pack for the Baby

  • 2 or 3 sleepsuits
  • A baby blanket
  • Nappies. Your newborn will go through as many as 12 in a day
  • Socks/booties
  • An outfit for the way home. Something stretchy, comfy and soft
  • A cloth. This will come in handy for mopping up any milk that the baby might bring up
  • Baby car seat. Some hospitals won’t let you leave without one

As the big day approaches, you as a surrogate mother, or as an intended parent will have plenty of questions that will arise. This checklist will help guide you through your delivery and after it.

Understanding The Importance of Surrogacy Contracts

The surrogacy contract is one of the most important pieces of every surrogacy process. The contract guides the entire surrogacy journey, clearly outlining each party’s rights, roles, and responsibilities before, during, and after the pregnancy.

A surrogacy contract can be overwhelming to consider and understand, but is designed to protect everyone involved equally.

Here’s a look at what the contract should include, and how to ensure that you receive a good one.

What Should be Included in your Surrogacy Contract?

The basic principle of the contract is to prevent conflict in the event of potential circumstances that could arise from a surrogate situation. It is critical that your contract includes:

  • Mutual agreement to number of embryos to be carried by the surrogate
  • What should happen to the baby in event of injury or death of the intended parents
  • Who will be present at the prenatal appointments and birth
  • Lifestyle choices of the surrogate, typically including an agreement to avoid alcohol, tobacco and illegal drugs during the course of the agreement
  • Financial responsibility for medical bills earned as a direct result of the pregnancy

These are just a few of the common points that should be a part of the contract. It is important to remember that your contract can, and should, be catered to you. If something is very important to you, it should be noted in the agreement.

Who to Work with?

It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to work not only with a lawyer for the drafting of your contract, but to work with a lawyer who specializes in fertility and reproductive laws. Reproductive law is managed on a state level, not a federal one, meaning the laws vary from state to state and are constantly changing. That’s why it is crucial to find a lawyer who is aware of these laws, in additional to having background in writing surrogacy contracts.

Understanding your Contract

Make sure you read over every page of your contract before signing it, and ask questions if you have any. This may be the first contract you’ve ever signed in your life. It is therefore completely normal to feel overwhelmed or intimidated by it, so asking questions is encouraged!

Don’t risk complicating this exciting time for you. The surrogacy contract is intended to protect both parties, and is the first step to a successful journey. Work hard on getting together a secure agreement with your lawyer or surrogacy agency.

From Sperm Motility to Sperm Count: What Every Couple Needs To Know About His Load

Women change their entire lifestyles to get their bodies ready for growing babies. But since it takes two to tango, it’s also important for our men to take a serious look at their habits if they want their seeds to latch on and grow! Health and diet have major consequences on a man’s sperm count and motility. Here’s what you need to know about sperm so you can start baby making!

Since we women are the ones actually carrying the baby, we fret a lot about our fertility and what we need to do to give ourselves prime conditions for getting pregnant. However, men aren’t off the hook. What they put into their bodies and their overall health has a direct effect on the health of their sperm.

What is sperm motility?

Ok, I’m going to take you back to middle school, ladies. This is a fact you likely learned in your sixth grade health class but a refresher is always good!

Sperm motility refers to the forward motion of sperm. So after you do the deed, sperm have nowhere to go but up! Believe it or not, our vaginas aren’t very welcoming hosts. Sperm has to work really hard to get through our canal and some simply can’t do it. Sperm that moves relatively slowly, makes it harder or impossible for them to move through a woman’s reproductive tract to the egg.

Generally, low sperm motility occurs when less than 50% of his sperm reaches its destination.

What is sperm morphology?

Sperm morphology describes the shape and size of sperm cells. The image we’re all familiar with – oval head with a long tail – is generally accepted as a “normal” healthy shape for sperm. Abnormal sperm have defects ranging from misshapen head, crooked tails, or even two tails!

What is considered low sperm count?

“A low sperm count was traditionally defined as less than 20 million sperm [per ejaculate], however more recent guidelines have revised this criteria and define a normal sperm count as anything greater than or equal to 15 million.”

To figure out if your man has high or low sperm count, doctors perform a semen analysis and look at four components – “volume, motility, sperm count and morphology.”

Don’t worry if he’s not, uhh, releasing a strong cavalry every time you have sex. Low sperm count does not mean you won’t get pregnant!

What habits are harmful for his sperm?

“For men, smart lifestyle choices can have a significantly positive impact on their sperm count and morphology, [or] the shape of the sperm,” Dr. Knopman tells us. “It is recommended that men, just like their female partners, who are attempting to conceive, reduce their alcohol consumption [and] quit smoking…”

Yes, a lot of what made your twenties so fabulous, adventurous, and a tad reckless have to be phased out for the sake of baby-making. But if the two of you make a pact to do it together then it won’t be as hard and you’ll discover new ways to spend quality time together (besides, y’know, all the sexin’ you’re about to do!)

Ok, but what’s the worst habit?

Steroids, hands down. Dr Knopman tells us that “men taking anabolic steroids are often infertile and in fact it is not uncommon to see a sperm count that approaches zero!” If your man’s a roid-head, he needs to stop – not just for your future family but for his future health as well!

“Exercise is always helpful and encouraged but steroid use can single-handedly render a couple infertile,” Dr. Knopman warns.

What habits keep his sperm healthy?

Dr. Knopman recommends men begin maintaining “a well-balanced diet and employ stress reduction techniques” to keep their sperm healthy.

Luckily for him (and you!), frequent sex helps reduce stress, but it’s also worth it for him to figure out methods that’ll relieve tension that don’t involve you or his right hand .

Yoga, meditation, weekly exercise, and making a point of listening to soothing music are all great stress relievers. Plus it’ll be good for him to know exactly how to manage his stress before the baby comes, right?!

Does his age matter?

For women, when you hit your mid-30s the biological clock doesn’t just start ticking, it’s start knocking on your door, pounding your windows, and throwing eggs at your car. Dr. Knopman reminds us that 35 years is the age when a woman’s “chance for obstetrical and neonatal complications rise.” It’s a little harder to predict for men but the docs are trying!

“Most define [advanced paternal age] between 45-50 years old. Men over the age of ~ 45-50 years old appear to have a higher chance of conceiving a child with autism, schizophrenia and autosomal dominant disorders.” Overall, semen volume, sperm motility and the proportion of normally shaped sperm appear to decrease gradually as age increases.” So, like women, age kinda does matter.

How common is male infertility?

“Male factor infertility is fairly common and often quite treatable,” says Dr. Knopman. “In 20% of couples struggling with infertility, the sole problem will be what is called ‘male factor’ simply put ‘a problem with the sperm.'”

Ok, so how is male infertility treated?

“Treatment varies from lifestyle modifications, surgical procedures (varicocelectomy), intra-uterine insemination and IVF with or without intracytoplasmic sperm injection,” Dr. Knopman explains.

“The latter describes a technique whereby the sperm is injected into the egg to further increase the chance of fertilization. In certain instances such as severely low sperm count and/or morphology, this procedure may be required to help the sperm fertilize the egg.”

The final word from Dr. Knopman….

You should take an active interest in your man’s sperm health. If you haven’t gotten pregnant after a year of unprotected sex, then yes, it’s time to consult a fertility doctor but don’t freak out too soon.

“Approximately 15% of couples will not conceive after one year of trying,” Dr. Knopman says. “It is important to remember that even the most fertile of couples have no greater than a 20-25% chance of conceiving per month. Simply stated getting pregnant is not so easy!”

Egg Donor Preparation: What You Need to Know

Egg Donation is a wonderful gift with countless rewards. However, it can take a toll on your physical and emotional health. You need to  prepare for the process, both emotionally and physically.

Eating and Drinking

Prepping your body for an egg donation is a simple process. Eating and drinking well are the first steps to becoming prepared. The nutritional food that goes into your body will nourish your uterine environment and optimize egg donation success.

Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are an excellent source of iron. They increase red blood cell production which enhances circulation to your uterine lining. Red meat, beans and mushrooms are other great examples of iron that increase cardiovascular health. Foods with high calcium and vitamin C are also recommended.

With all these nutrients entering your body, make sure that you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and help move around all those nutrients.

Exercising

Exercising in moderation is another key factor when preparing for egg donation. Performing aerobic exercises like swimming, spinning and fast walking is a great way to get your blood pumping. Flexibility training is also good for your body. Yoga or dance classes are great ways to strengthen and align your pelvis.

Taking part in any of these workout routines for at least 30 minutes a day will create an ideal space for your reproductive organs, and make you feel refreshed!

Rest

Your doctor will likely recommend you to get plenty of rest, and they’re right! Taking care of your spiritual and mental health is another aspect that is important in preparing your body. Try and focus on improving your sleeping habits. Once your body recognizes a consistent sleep pattern it can begin to wind down and rest.

Preparing to be an egg donor requires the same love and healthy lifestyle that your body would need at any other time in your life. By following these simple steps you and your body will be ready in no time for your donation!

Follicle size for IVF

Well, the very moment is coming, when eggs are ready to be extracted. How to determine this moment, you want to know? The primary sign, that indicates readiness degree of woman’s eggs, is follicle size.

Physiology

The fact is that during the late luteal phase population of follicles with diameter 2-5 mm is formed; the dominant follicles will be selected for the next cycle. It is called ‘recruitment. Typically, we can talk about 3-11 follicles, but their number is reduced with age.

At the beginning of the menstrual cycle the largest follicles (5-10 mm) continue to develop, and the others regress. At 5-7 day one of the follicles 10 mm in size becomes dominant. The dominant follicle suppresses other ones. It becomes more on 2-3 mm daily and as a result reaches 17-27 mm. What is interesting, it is impossible to determine in advance what follicle will be dominant.

Before ovulation, follicle grows very quickly. It protrudes from the ovarian cortex, attains its border, and then explodes to release the egg and some antral fluid.

 Follicular monitoring

Follicular monitoring is used to track the state of follicles from late luteal phase to ovulation. To do this the follicle is assessed at regular intervals, and the result is recorded in the documents. Follicular monitoring is carried out by means of ultrasound diagnostics. The first measurements can be carried out on the third day of the cycle, their aim is to describe the features of the follicles (their quantity, shape and so on, everything, that is possible).

On the seventh day, we can begin to guess what follicle will be dominant and destined for ovulation. As a rule, there are three types of follicles competing for this role:

  1. Atretic dominant follicle.On the third day this follicle can be the largest, but it doesn’t mean it will lead to ovulation. Such follicle has rough edges and an irregular shape.
  2. Ovulatory dominant follicle. This follicle has smooth borders and round shape.
  3. Anovulatory-luteinizing dominant follicle. This type of dominant follicles grows quickly but fails to ovulate, and later turns to a cyst. These are smooth and round too.

As soon as one of the follicles reaches 16 mm size, specialists recommend a daily follicle monitoring. The next step is the detection of ovulation thanks to some signs.

Time to retrieve

Specialists say it’s very important to catch the moment when eggs will have ripe enough: in this case it’s just the time for egg retrieval when size at least 2 follicles is 18mm or greater, 50% or even more of all the follicles are at least 15mm in size and Estradiol levels are 1500-5000. These numbers refer to blood levels and measurements taken on the last day of stimulation, because, as a rule, nobody will take any blood on the day of retrieval.

Now, eggs must be retrieved, but they are not mature yet. To determine the moment when each follicle of 15mm or more produces a mature egg, doctor takes a final injection, that is called HCG.

For the first 36-40 hours after the HCG shot is taken, the larger eggs will go through their final maturation process. Full maturation of oocytes is a prerequisite, it’s a vital question: immature oocyte will not be fertilized. This is unacceptable to extract eggs prematurely. But also it must be done not more than 40 hours pass after the HCG shot, otherwise the egg is not fertilized too. The point is that ovulation can occur after 40 hours:  egg will come out from the ovary and appear in abdominal cavity; therefore, there will be nothing to retrieve. That is why it is so important that the last injection has been carried out according to the instructions. Optimal time is 36 hours. If you are late only on couple of hours, it’s not a disaster. But a longer delay can reduce the chances for success to zero.

So, an Egg Retrieval will be nearly in 36 hours following. This procedure implies minimal surgical intervention: a needle penetrates through the upper vaginal wall directly into the ovary and thus the eggs are retrieved. Depending on the number of follicles, this procedure can take from 20 to 45 minutes.

Is an Egg Retrieval painful? No, fortunately, it’s absolutely painless procedure. The only thin, after anesthesia mild drowsiness can remain.

The most interesting fact is that some follicles may be empty. In its turn, eggs from follicles 14 mm or less in size are often difficult to fertilize because they are immature. Then an embryologist studies the contents of all the follicles under the microscope and extracts eggs.