Egg Donation & BMI
Applying to become an egg donor encompasses a wide range of responsibilities. Throughout the process of your donation, you’ll be required to follow specific steps to make your donation as safe and as comfortable as possible. At PNWF, one of the requirements for becoming a potential egg donor is to have a 'normal' Body Mass Index (BMI). For your safety, your BMI should be between 19 and 27 to participate in our egg donor program.
First, what is BMI?
Body mass index (BMI) is a simple calculation based on height and weight. BMI is one measure of body fat and defined as weight (in kilograms) divided by height squared (in meters). You can calculate your own BMI by using a simple on-line calculator. While not perfect for predicting health, it is an easy way to study and compare the impact of weight on health.
The World Health Organization established the following categories of weight based on BMI:
Underweight if BMI < 18.5
Optimal weight if BMI 18.6-24.9
Overweight if BMI 25.0-29.9
Obese if BMI >30.0
Why does BMI matter for egg donation?
While requiring a specific BMI range of our donors may seem confusing or perhaps insulting, there are a number of reasons we take BMI into consideration during our egg donor screening process.
During an egg donation cycle, you will inject egg-stimulating medications to help your eggs mature and be ready for retrieval. These medications are more effective and predictable when BMI is in an optimal range
An optimal BMI also makes the retrieval of your eggs safer for you. At the end of your cycle, when your eggs are mature, one of our doctors will perform a vaginal ultrasound-guided egg retrieval. You will be under anesthesia for this minimally invasive, quick procedure. It is easiest and safest if your BMI is normal. If your BMI is too high, your risk of anesthesia increases and the procedure is much for difficult for the physician to perform.
What if my BMI is too high?
Fat cells affect the body’s ability to absorb and use any hormones being injected in order to mature the eggs. When the BMI is high, the dose of medications needed is often higher, but can also be unpredictable. This makes it difficult for the physician to manage your medications to get the optimal number of mature eggs for the intended parents and to keep you safe.
Most importantly, a high BMI is a recognized risk factor for complications from anesthesia. It is very important to us that our egg donors assume as little risk as possible when they are generously going through a surgical procedure for the benefit of others. If you are interested in becoming an egg donor and your BMI is too high, you are welcome to reapply to the PNWF egg program at a later date when your BMI is closer to the established range.
What if my BMI is too low?
A donor with a very low BMI may respond to egg-stimulating medications in an unpredictable manner and is at a greater risk for developing Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). In OHSS, the ovaries overreact to the medication and become enlarged, filling with fluid. The donor may experience rapid weight gain, excess bloating, shortness of breath. Due to new medication protocols, OHSS has become rare in egg donors who have a normal BMI.
If you are interested in becoming an egg donor and your BMI is too low, you may be reconsidered at a later date if your BMI reaches a normal range.
At Pacific NW Fertility, we strive to take the best care as possible of our egg donors in order to minimize short and long-term risks to their health. Requiring a normal BMI is one of the ways in which we do this. If you are interested in egg donation, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions you may have.