Synchronization and stimulation
Donor Qualification: Phase 4
A medications calendar will be created for you by the doctor. As the contract has been signed, you will then be able to begin your medications, which will stimulate your ovaries to produce and grow the eggs. Typically, you will start with birth control pills to synchronize your monthly cycle with the carrier, who could be the aspiring mother or the recipient’s surrogate. After, you will learn to give yourself daily injections of hormones, often administered in the thigh or belly, for two to three weeks with a small needle. The injections are simple to administer. You will most likely start by taking Lupron injections for about 10-14 days, which will shut down your ovulation, putting you in a short-term menopausal condition. This may cause the following side effects: mild headaches, hot flashes, or a sense of fatigue. Of course, you may not have any side effects at all — hormones can cause different reactions in each person.
After injecting Lupron, you will begin a series of injections using gonadotropin hormones such as Follistim, Gonal-F, Repronex or Menopur. The active ingredient in the gonadotropins is known as follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) because it works to increase the number of follicles developing in the ovaries. The follicles are the fluid filled sacs within the ovaries that contain the eggs. HCG is your final injection, and this initiates the final stage of maturation and timing of the egg retrieval. HCG is a natural hormone and works to stimulate ovulation; it has been used safely for many years. The doctor’s office will instruct you on how to take/inject your medications and will be available to answer any questions you may have.
If you are prone to premenstrual syndrome (PMS) you may feel some of the side effects attributed to the gonadotropin injections. These effects are usually mild and may include allergic sensitivity, breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, headaches and/or mood swings. You may even gain a few pounds, which will only be a temporary weight gain as it is when you have PMS.
While on medications, you will be medically monitored to check your response to the hormones. Your schedule will need to be flexible during this time to accommodate the many appointments for medical monitoring. The monitoring will include blood draws and vaginal ultrasound examinations. The blood draws are to test hormone levels, and the transvaginal ultrasounds allow the doctor to monitor the growth of the eggs on your ovaries. If you are traveling for your cycle, your case manager will find a facility near your home for most of your monitoring appointments before you travel back to the doctor for the retrieval.