Choosing The Right Egg Donor For You

by Admin on March 21, 2017

You’ve reached the point in your journey in which egg donation is the next step in growing your family. There are many factors to take into consideration when selecting an egg donor. It’s likely that your doctor will discuss with you the desired health traits of a donor, such as a healthy family history and/or donor’s ovarian reserve quality. Family Creations knows there are other factors to consider, factors that are less about the medical aspects and more about what feels right for you. We’ll talk with you about the characteristics you’re looking for in a donor. This gives us the information we need to assist in selecting the right donor for you.

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We know this is a sensitive process, so we’ve done some of the work for you. We created our profile template with our recipients in mind. It was important to us to provide you with valuable information, while still keeping the donor’s identity anonymous.

Each of our donors creates a profile which allows our recipients to get a snapshot of the donor’s life. Physical characteristics can be viewed through the donor’s photo gallery, and current height, weight, natural hair color, etc. are all listed on the profile. In addition, donor’s profiles include their health history, as well as her family’s health history. Each profile also contains character and personality information through the donor’s responses to questions such as, Who has been the most influential person in your life, and why?, What are your future goals?, and “for fun” questions like, ‘what’s your favorite movie, book, and type of music?’.

*Additional information may be available upon request.

Once a suitable donor candidate has been selected, we’ll walk you through the matching process then manage the cycle, assisting you throughout the entire egg donation process. One of our goals at Family Creations is guiding our recipients and their donors through a smooth egg donation cycle from match to retrieval- we’ll be there for you, every step of the way.

Please contact us directly for a free consultation to learn more about our egg donor program.

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You’ve been matched- Congratulations!

Your Family Creations case manager is going to be there to support you along every step of the way. Your case manager is your go-to person if you ever have any questions about the process, and there’s no need to be shy. No matter how personal, we’ve likely heard the same question from previous donors. Think of your case manager as your donation cycle bestie. You can talk with us about anything.

Here are 5 other tips we thought would be helpful:

  • Communication is really important during a cycle. You’ll want to be sure to check your voicemail, emails, and texts often as the donation process is time sensitive. You wouldn’t want to miss instruction from the doctor or your case manager. Also, if you have any questions about what to expect next, just ask your case manager (a.k.a, cycle bestie).
  • Write it down. We know, life gets busy. Many of our donors are students, have jobs, are mothers -or all three at once! It’s a good idea to take notes on all information you receive from the doctor or nurse to avoid any confusion about medication dosage, follow-up appointment times/dates, etc.
  • You can’t pour from an empty cup. Your body is hard at work producing multiple eggs in just one cycle. You’ll want to be sure you stay rested, hydrated, and well-nourished throughout the cycle. This means taking a break from intense workouts, drinking plenty of water and electrolyte rich beverages, and eating nutrient dense foods.
  • Combat the bloating. It’s very common to experience bloating as a side effect of the stimulation medication. To add to the previous tip, eating well and drinking lots of water will help you prevent or lessen bloating. Drinking water helps to flush out excess fluids in the system and high fiber foods will keep your digestion working efficiently. Try avoiding high sugar and high carbohydrate foods as these may contribute to excess bloating. Be sure to talk with the doctor/nurse about an appropriate nutrition plan for you during the cycle.
  • Remember your ‘why’. Your ‘why’ is the reason you chose to become an egg donor. Whatever the reason, this may be one of the most meaningful jobs you have in your lifetime. By donating, you’re helping a person or couple create the family they’ve always dreamed of… and that’s pretty amazing.
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Things to Consider when Selecting a Surrogate

by Admin on October 7, 2016

How exactly do you decide who to trust to nurture your child while in utero? Selecting a surrogate to help you grow your family is a big decision- one that you don’t have to make alone. Prior to matching, we’ll work together in reviewing our qualified surrogate profiles. You’ll also learn more about the surrogacy process and we’ll answer any questions you have pertaining to specific surrogates. We don’t rest until we’ve found your ideal match.  Family Creations makes the matching process as stress-free as possible by coordinating a meeting time (phone, Skype, in-person) and facilitating the match meeting between the Intended Parent(s) and surrogate. While we cover all of the basics in making sure our surrogates are eligible, there are some other things to consider when determining whether or not a particular surrogate will be a good match for you. Check out this info-graphic for more on selecting a surrogate:

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Family Creations: On the Road Again!

by Admin on August 24, 2016

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Recently, Family Creations hit the road and visited with several clinic coordinators and third party reproduction nurses around Boston, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. It’s always a wonderful experience meeting with the nurses and coordinators we work so closely with throughout donation cycles and gestational surrogacy journeys. Not only do we love to meet the people with whom we have already established working relationships, we also strive to build new relationships with clinics we’ve yet to have the pleasure of working with.

Family Creations only partners with the most reputable clinics in the US. The Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology site is a great way for us to check statistics in regard to success rates. However, meeting with the staff, doctors, and nurses allows us to confidently refer our clients, donors, and surrogates to these clinics. We are in the business of creating families. It’s important to us that the clinics we work with feel the same way and treat each of our clients, donors, and surrogates just as we do- like family.

We can recommend you looking into any of the following clinics if you happen to be in the Tri-State or Boston area:

If you are interested in finding a Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility doctor that is local to you or in a particular area of the country (international clients), please contact us directly as we have many wonderful clinics we can refer you to based on your individual needs.

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Recently NBC News posted an article on the emotional experience of becoming parents as same-sex male couples. There are many ways that gay fathers enter their journey into parenthood such as egg donation, surrogacy, adoption, and even some that became parents while in previous heterosexual relationships. No matter the route they took to create their families, these men all had one thing in common- their deep desire to become fathers.

In this heartwarming video, several gay fathers share their stories of the path they took to becoming parents.

Brian Rosenberg and Ferd van Gameren, pictured below with their son and two daughters, started the website GaysWithKids.com, an online community that offers support to gay men in navigating fatherhood.

“When people outside of the gay community see gay … and lesbian families, they see we are exactly the same – we go to the same school, we go to the meetings after school, we take our kids to sports or play dates,” explains Rosenberg. van Gameren added, “[Heterosexual parents] look at you with your kid and immediately think, I get that“.

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Egg Donation: Do You Have What It Takes?

by Admin on July 22, 2016

Thinking about becoming an egg donor?

Check out this list to see if egg donation is a good fit for you:

You Must Be Responsible Egg donation is a time sensitive process. Missing an appointment or failing to take your medication correctly can be detrimental to the cycle. While every donor is assigned a case manager to guide them through the process, the donor herself is responsible for making sure she follows all instruction given by her case manager and IVF doctor.

Flexible scheduleEgg donation is time sensitive as it is a biological process that is coordinated around the menstrual cycle of the donor and recipient mother or gestational carrier. For this reason, doctor’s appointments are not flexible. An ideal donor candidate has some flexibility in their schedule in order to attend doctor’s appointments and take off 7-10 days for the egg retrieval trip.

You’re comfortable with doctor’s appointments and needlesThroughout the course of an egg donation cycle, each donor is required to attend several doctor’s appointments and is required to administer medication through subcutaneous self injections (see our blog on cycle medications).

Ethnic backgroundFamily Creations welcomes donors of all ethnic backgrounds into our program. We have a beautifully diverse pool of exceptional egg donors available. Certain ethnic backgrounds such as East Indian and Asian are in high demand since there are not many available egg donors from these specific ethnicities. Jewish egg donors are also highly sought after by recipients.

Physical and mental healthAll donors are required to undergo medical, genetic, and psychological screening. Ideal egg donor candidates are in good physical and emotional health. One important health factor is falling within a healthy BMI range. Also, if you’re considering egg donation it’s a good idea to gather information on your family’s health history and ethnic background for the mandatory genetic consultation. The geneticist provides a report based on the donor’s family history that helps the recipient’s IVF doctor determine what type of testing is needed.

Non-smoker Studies show that the ovarian reserve, egg quality, and quantity are reduced in women who smoke. Smokers also have lower numbers of follicles when stimulated for egg retrieval, and have lower numbers of eggs retrieved- none of which makes for an ideal egg donor candidate.

AgeFamily Creations accepts women between the ages of 21-29 into our egg donor program. Even in the healthiest of women, studies have revealed both egg quality and quantity decreases with age, with a significant decline around age 30.

Compassion This is such an important quality to have as an egg donor. The person or couple you are donating for is counting on you to help them make their dreams of becoming a parent a reality. They are in a vulnerable position as recipients. An ideal egg donor candidate understands this and does everything they can to ensure a successful cycle.

So, do you think you have what it takes to be an exceptional egg donor?  If so, we welcome you to apply with Family Creations.

Have more questions? Give us a call! 818-225-1700

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

References:

Sherbahan, R. (n.d.). Smoking Tobacco and the Effect of Cigarette Smoking on Fertility, Infertility and IVF Success. Retrieved from http://www.advancedfertility.com/smoking.htm

Sherbahan, R. (n.d.). Female Age, Fertility and Infertility. Retrieved from http://www.advancedfertility.com/age.htm

 

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The surrogacy process can be confusing for adults to understand. So, you may not know where to start when it comes to explaining the process to your children. We know, and we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list is of the top 5 books on Amazon that simplify the surrogacy process in terms that your children will understand.

1. Sophia’s Broken Crayons: A Story of Surrogacy from a Young Child’s Perspective

Sophia’s Broken Crayons is a book for young children, recommended for children ages 2 to 6 years old which tells a story of surrogacy from a young child’s perspective in a practical way that children can understand and grasp. Follow the story of Sophia as she learns about sharing and helping out friends in need as well as why moms and dads choose surrogates to help grow their families and why surrogates choose to help other families that way.

2. Why I’m So Special: A Book About Surrogacy With Two Daddies

Why I’m so special: A Book about Surrogacy with Two Daddies is a lighthearted picture book on surrogacy with two daddies. The book is a story that all parents who used a surrogate may share with their young children to let them know just how special they are. This story is ultimately about hope, perseverance, and lots of love.

3. The Kangaroo Pouch: A story about surrogacy for young children

The Kangaroo Pouch introduces young children, ages 2-to-8, to the concept of surrogacy. The story is narrated by a young kangaroo named Oliver whose mother has decided to help another family have a baby. The Kangaroo Pouch is designed to act not only as a conversation starter, but also as a “how-to” manual for children to refer to throughout the surrogacy journey. The book has been reviewed by child specialists to ensure that it conveys age-appropriate messages.

4. The Very Kind Koala: A Surrogacy Story for Children

The Very Kind Koala is a charming picture book for young children which provides an introduction to surrogacy through the simple story of a koala bear and her husband who needed the help of a very kind koala to carry their baby in her pouch. Parents can begin reading this story to children as young as 3 years of age to begin the dialog about their own helpful surrogate.

5. Daddy Dog and Papi Panda’s Rainbow Family: It takes love to make a family

“It only takes love to make a family.” This children’s book is about the formation of a non-traditional family. The characters are same sex parents who created their family through a combination of adoption and surrogacy. The book presents the topic of a modern family in a simple fun way geared towards children.

 

Resources: All photos and book descriptions are from Amazon

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Without stimulating medications, the ovaries make and release only 1 mature egg per menstrual cycle (month). During your egg donation cycle, there are typically 3 medications that you will take over the course of 2-4 weeks. These medications allow your body to produce multiple eggs in one cycle. The medications are self-injectable, and will need to be administered daily. These injections are not intravenous; they are subcutaneous, which means they are inserted just under the skin. The injections are very easy and painless. A nurse coordinator will give you instructions and an overview of how to administer the injections to yourself.

The side effects of the medications are very similar to PMS – you might feel a bit moody, tired, and bloated. However, most donors report not feeling any differently while taking the medications.

The Medications

There are several ovarian stimulation medication protocols that are used to “pump up” the ovaries to make enough follicles and eggs. IVF stimulation protocols in the US generally involve the use of 3 types of drugs:

1. A medication to suppress the LH surge and ovulation until the developing eggs are ready.

There are 2 classes of drug used for this:

  • GnRH-agonist (gonadotropin releasing hormone agonist) such as Lupron
  • GnRH-antagonist such as Ganirelix or Cetrotide

2. FSH product (follicle stimulating hormone) to stimulate development of multiple eggs

  • Gonal-F, Follistim, Bravelle, Menopur

3. HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) to cause final maturation of the eggs

The ovaries are stimulated with the injectable FSH medications for about 7-12 days until multiple mature size follicles have developed.

Possible side effects of the injectable medications

•    Mild bruising and soreness at the injection site

•    Mood swings and fatigue

•    Nausea and/or vomiting

•    Temporary allergic reactions, such as skin reddening and/or itching at the injection site

•    Breast tenderness and increased vaginal discharge

•    Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS)

“Earlier reports from several decades ago suggested a link between ovarian cancer and the use of fertility medicines. However, more recent and well-done studies are reassuring and do not show this association.”(ASRM, 2015)

Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome

Most symptoms of OHSS are mild and typically subside without any special treatment within a few days after the egg retrieval. Mild symptoms of OHSS include nausea, bloating, and weight gain due to fluid. Severe OHSS is reported in 1-2% of IVF cases. This means essentially that the body has “over-responded” to the FSH and the ovaries become excessively enlarged. Great care is taken by the physician to minimize the chances of this occurrence. In severe cases, OHSS can cause large amounts of fluid to build up in the abdomen (belly) which can lead to blood clots, shortness of breath, abdominal pain, dehydration, and vomiting.

For more information about OHSS, see ASRM fact sheet: Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and/or contact a medical professional.

Egg Retrieval Procedure

During the egg retrieval, the doctor will use an ultrasound guided needle that is inserted vaginally. It will go into your ovaries and with gentle suction they will remove the eggs and follicles produced during your cycle. Family Creations ONLY works with highly reputable clinics in the US. This greatly decreases the risk of egg retrieval complications. “Serious complications from IVF medicines and procedures are rare. As with all medical treatments, however, there are some risks. ” (ASRM, 2015)

Most donors do report feeling slightly bloated for a few days after the retrieval. However, the majority of our donors fly back home the day after their retrieval and are able to return to work/school immediately.

Possible Risks of the Retrieval Procedure

•    Mild to moderate pelvic and abdominal discomfort. In most cases, the pain can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications and dissipates within a few days.

•    Injury to organs near the ovaries, such as the bladder, bowel, or blood vessels. Rarely, bowel or blood vessel injury can require emergency surgery and, occasionally, blood transfusions.

•    Pelvic infection (mild to severe). Pelvic infections following egg retrieval or embryo transfer are not common. Severe infection may require hospitalization and/or treatment with intravenous antibiotics.

•    Rarely, surgery may be required to remove one or both of the ovaries and tubes and/or uterus. Women who have had pelvic infections or endometriosis involving the ovaries are more likely to get IVF-related infections.

Potential Risks of Anesthesia for the Egg Retrieval Procedure

Lawrece Tsen, associate professor in anesthesia at the Harvard Medical School has indicated that the risks associated with anesthesia are generally very low in the healthy, young women that become egg donors. Falling within the range of a healthy BMI significantly decreases risk associated with anesthesia. (See Family Creations blog on BMI)

Although the risks are considered to be very low in the egg donor population; some of the major morbidities associated with anesthesia are heart attacks, stroke, pulmonary emboli, difficulty breathing and respiratory failure.

Summary

As with any medical procedure, there are potential risks in egg donation. It’s so important to do your own research to make sure that egg donation is the right choice for you. We strongly suggest you speak with a medical professional if you have any questions regarding your personal health and how the egg donation process may affect you. While we have not seen any major medical issues arise with any of our egg donation cases, we at Family Creations encourage all of our donors to be their own best advocates.

We are happy to refer you to a doctor that specializes in Assisted Reproductive Technology to answer any specific questions you have regarding the medical process of egg donation. Give us a call at 818-225-1700.

We look forward to helping you every step of the way!

 

References
American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). (2015). In vitro fertilization; what are the risks?. In Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology.

Giudice, L., Santa, E., & Pool, R. (Eds.). (n.d.). Assessing the medical risks of human oocyte donation… In Institute of Medicine and National Research Council Workshop Report (pp. 31-40). Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Ovarian Stimulation IVF Protocols Medications and Drugs for In Vitro Fertilization (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2016, from http://www.advancedfertility.com/ivfstim.htm

 

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3 Basic Guidelines of Weight Loss

by Admin on June 24, 2016

Beginning a weight loss routine can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Let’s keep it simple. Consider the 3 guidelines below your foundation towards building a healthier lifestyle.

1. Drink More Water

Adequate water intake curbs cravings, boosts your metabolism, cleanses your body of waste, and helps combat water retention. So, how much water should you be drinking daily?

Here’s a simple formula: Your total body weight divided by 2 = the appropriate daily intake of water in ounces. For example, if you weigh 160 lbs then you’ll want to drink at least 80 ounces of water a day.

If you like to indulge in alcohol, coffee, and/or other caffeinated drinks then your formula gets a little more complicated: (Oz of diuretics x 1.5) + body weight/2

*No more than 100 oz/day. Consider a beverage like coconut water to replenish electrolytes if you have a very active day and sweat excessively.

Tips:

  • Start your day off with about 32 oz of water – This helps with cellular function throughout your body and gets things moving in your digestive track. Add a tablespoon of lemon juice for an extra detoxifying boost.
  • Drink a tall glass (16 oz) of water about 30 minutes before each meal. – This helps to curb cravings and over eating.
  • Sip on water throughout the day. – Get yourself a nice water bottle that you don’t mind carrying around all day and make sure you know how many ounces it holds so that you can keep track of your intake.

2. Get Moving

This will look different for everyone. Maybe you like to dance or skate, swim, run, walk, climb, Crossfit, Yoga, Pilates, Barre or Spin. Whatever it is that you like to do, just do that and at the least, a few times a week.  If you’re like me (and most people) you’re busy and life gets in the way of your “you time”.  Not okay ladies and gents, that is just not okay. Do it for you, do it for your family. Make your health a priority.

Tips:

  • Find someone to hold you accountable, otherwise known as a workout buddy. – Having a workout partner makes it more likely that you’ll work out on days that you’re not feeling it.
  • Look into at home workout routines for those days that you can’t break away or if you’re on a budget. – I love Bar Method Online, just $120 per/year, they have various levels of Barre routines, and both mini (20 mins) and regular (about 45 mins-1 hr) workout videos.

3. Start Cooking

Maybe you’re a Julia Childs in the kitchen, maybe you can’t boil water. No matter your skill level, get to cookin’. This is the best way to keep track of every ingredient that goes into your body, allowing you full control over your diet. Home prepared meals do not necessarily need to be complicated. Keep it simple with recipes like avocado egg salad and crock pot carnitas. Yum!

Tips:

  • “Eat real food, not too much, and mostly plants” – Michael Pollan
  • Look into healthy meal food delivery services, such as Hello Fresh by Jamie Oliver. – Jamie says: “By portioning up all the ingredients and delivering them straight to your door, you can just get on with the cooking, and in my mind, anything that helps busy people be able to cook from scratch is a good thing”
  • Pinterest is your friend. – Use this marvelous source to find weight loss encouraging recipes that you and your family will enjoy.

 

– Blog contributed by Family Creations Director of Client Services in our Atlanta office, Elysa Romano. Elysa holds a degree in Psychology and is a Certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.

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Body Mass Index (BMI)

by Admin on June 17, 2016

Bass mass index (BMI), aka those three little letters (and a few too many/too little pounds) that may be keeping you from pursuing your desire to become an egg donor or surrogate mother. BMI is calculated by an algorithm that takes an individual’s height and weight, and provides a value that is an indicator of the individual’s body fat. What’s your BMI?

Potential Surrogate BMI must be between 19-33

Potential Egg Donor BMI must be between 19-28

BMI – Classification

Below 18.5 – Underweight

18.5-24.9 – Normal

25-29.9 – Overweight

30-39 – Class 1 and 2 Obesity

40 and higher – Class 3 Obesity

For Donors: Being under or over weight affects egg quality. Statistics show that egg retrievals are less likely to be successful when the woman has a BMI of less than 19 or over 28.

For Surrogates: The doctors set these limits for a variety of medical reasons, but the most common include:

  • Gestational diabetes. Women with a BMI that falls in the obese range are more likely to develop gestational diabetes than are women with a lower BMI.
  • Preeclampsia. Increased risk of developing preeclampsia. A pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys.
  • Infection. Increased risk of urinary tract infections. Obesity also increases the risk of postpartum infection, whether the baby is delivered vaginally or by C-section.
  • Overdue pregnancy. Obesity increases the risk that pregnancy will continue beyond the expected due date.
  • Labor problems. Increased risk of labor induction and interference of pain medication (such as an epidural block).
  • C-section. Increase in the likelihood of elective and emergency C-sections. Also an increase in the risk of C-section complications, such as wound infections.
  • Pregnancy loss. Obesity increases the risk of miscarriage.

We would like for our egg donor and surrogate applicants to be aware that if you have been disqualified from our program due to your BMI that it truly has nothing to do with your appearance and it is not for vanity reasons.  It’s just that the facts about the correlation between BMI and infertility are overwhelming.

If you would like to become an egg donor or surrogate but you are over or under the BMI, check back in often as our in-house Nutritional Therapist will be posting nutrition tips and recipes on our blog that will guide you through making health and lifestyle changes towards your goal of a healthy BMI!

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