Once the eggs are ready to be extracted, donors are heavily sedated and 10-15 eggs are extracted with a large needle inserted into the ovary through the vaginal wall. Derek describes the egg retrieval as relatively easy and painless. The procedure takes about 30 minutes, and donors usually experience some pain and discomfort for a couple of days after the surgery. It took Derek about ten days to recover the first time, and she says that the recovery period was shorter for her subsequent donations.
But donating eggs multiple times did take its toll on Derek. After her ninth donation, she started to become depressed which she thinks was due to a hormonal imbalance caused by the hormone treatments. "The depression became more and more severe," she says. "It just got worse until I couldn't leave my bed and had to see a doctor. I believe it was linked to my repeated egg donations since there was nothing else going on in my life at the time that could have explained why I became so depressed."