Throughout the duration of your egg donation cycle, you will be instructed to take egg donor medication to prepare for your body for your egg retrieval procedure. Below is a list of egg donor medication most commonly used with egg donor cycles.
Birth Control Pills
The use of birth control pills is for ease in planning an egg donation cycle, and to ensure suppression before beginning stimulation medication. As an egg donor, you may be prescribed pills for as few as two weeks or as many as a couple of months. Side effects for birth control pills include breast tenderness, nausea, and lighter menstrual periods.
Antibiotics are a commonly prescribed egg donor medication used to decrease the potential risk of infection following your egg retrieval procedure. Side effects of antibiotics may include loose stool, nausea, sun sensitivity, and allergic reaction.
Gonadotropins (such as Gonal-F® and Follistim®) are follicle-stimulating hormones (FSH) prescribed to stimulate your ovaries and promote follicular growth. You will be instructed to take stimulating hormones by injection for approximately 10 days. Side effects from the use of gonadotropins may include injection site tenderness, moodiness and irritability, fatigue, and bloating. In addition, for 1-2% of treatment cases, ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) may occur, where the body’s reaction to gonadotropins becomes uncontrolled. Fertility centers take special care to prevent you from experiencing OHSS, through monitoring to assess your hormone levels and follicular growth, as well as by prescribing special medications following your egg retrieval.
As an antagonist, Ganirelix is an egg donor medication administered by injection once per day, beginning when your follicles reach approximately 10-12mm in diameter (or 4-6 days into gonadotropin therapy). Ganirelix prevents premature ovulation, and side effects may include injection site tenderness, nausea, and headache. On occasion, Ganirelix may be prescribed following egg retrieval in order to reduce the risk of OHSS.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG)
Once used only as a “trigger” shot administered once approximately 35-36 hours before egg retrieval, hCG as a trigger shot has been phased out by many treating physicians, due to the long half-life in the body (thus increasing OHSS risks). Today, when prescribed, hCG is more commonly prescribed as a low-dose treatment through the duration of the egg donation cycle for patients who are more likely to over-respond to FSH, or who may have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). In general, low dose hCG acts similar to luteinizing hormone to supplement the follicular phase. Side effects for low-dose hCG may include injection site tenderness, moodiness and irritability, breast tenderness, fatigue, and bloating.
In the past, Lupron was an egg donor medication prescribed as a down-regulator to prevent ovulation and used for 20-22 days. Today, most treating physicians prescribe Lupron as a subcutaneous injection used once, as a “trigger” shot, approximately 35-36 hours before planned egg retrieval. Used as a trigger shot, Lupron will result in a release of luteinizing hormone from the pituitary gland, triggering the maturation of follicles in your ovaries (through a process called meiosis), and as an added bonus, the side effects of Lupron are more tolerable than those of hCG. Lupron side effects typically involve bloating and fatigue, but due to Lupron’s short short half-life, your risk of OHSS is significantly smaller and your recovery post-retrieval is easier.
As you read through the information above, we recognize you may still have a lot of questions about egg donor medication. We encourage you to contact our office if you have further questions, and in addition, we want to let you know that the medical staff at your treating physician’s office will instruct you on what specific medications will be prescribed during your treatment, as well as how to self-administer your egg donor medication throughout the duration of your egg donor cycle.
Disclaimer: The content provided above is not intended for, nor should it be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice. It should not replace a conversation you have directly with your medical team. Prior to beginning an egg donation cycle, we strongly encourage you discuss the medications, as well as their side effects, with your medical team.