When it comes to donating your eggs for some needed cash, there are many things that you should consider before making a decision.
Donating your eggs is emotionally and physically tolling and the process shouldn’t be taken lightly. This article will go over the entire egg donation process and give better insight into what young women go through when they chose to donate their eggs.
Knowing each step of the way can be comforting if you are already in the process of donating your eggs or can immensely help with the decision process. While extensive research has been done to answer these questions, I highly recommend researching specific agencies and clinics on your own as some of the processes vary by where a donor chooses to donate their eggs.
Egg donation is when a young woman donates her eggs to another person so that they can have a baby. It is designed to help women who are having trouble conceiving on their own for various reasons. This process involves removing eggs from one woman (the donor), fertilizing the eggs, and then implanting them in a woman (the recipient) wishing to be pregnant or their assigned surrogate. The process used is called in-vitro fertilization and can help solve some reproductive challenges.
Donating your eggs was first started in the 1980s and has become a very lucrative industry in American society. Unfortunately, infertility rates are increasing and with that more families are dependent on egg donations to become pregnant. There are a plethora of agencies and clinics that are now established for egg donation throughout the United States.
When determining how much you can earn from donating your eggs there are a lot of factors in place. However, the average egg donor receives anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 per cycle. This number can increase depending on the agency and the quality of the eggs. Some donors can get as much as $50,000 per cycle!
More can be earned through egg donation if a young woman donates more than one cycle of her eggs. An egg donor, if qualified, can donate up to six cycles in total. Some agencies will also pay more for repeat egg donations versus first time donors. An example I found is $12,000 per cycle after the first cycle at $10,000.
Using the example from above, an egg donor could earn a total of $70,000 if they donate six cycles.
$10,000 x 1 donation + $12,000 x 5 donations = $70,000 in financial compensation
It’s important to note that most agencies will cover all the costs that are involved in donating your eggs along with egg donor compensation. These costs include all travel, medical, and testing expenses that are a part of the process.
If you are traveling to donate your eggs at a location you do not live in, most agencies will pay for the flight, mileage, meals, and lodging for you and a significant other.
*** Please research what a particular egg donor program will pay and what expenses they cover when making your final decision.
You may be curious if you are qualified as a potential egg donor. Every fertility clinic has a different screening process to find viable candidates for egg donation, but they all have similar requirements.
Here’s a list of the common criteria I found for potential donors:
When trying to decide if donating your eggs is something you’d like to do, it is beneficial to go over the process that it’ll take to donate them. While everyone's experience is unique to the individual and the agency or clinic used, here’s what the typical process should look like.
A good candidate is found through an egg donor application process and a phone call is usually exchanged with donor coordinators. Important information is gathered along with personal history. When starting the egg donation process, the qualified women are asked to sign a legal agreement and give up potential parental rights to the prospective parent.
A donor must be tested for a variety of infectious diseases and genetic disorders. Usual testing includes HIV, Hepatitis B and C, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. This testing is done by blood tests. Then genetic and medical history is collected and based on that information, there are different tests performed depending on the donor's specific historic and ethnic background. A psychological screening is also performed to make sure that mental health is in check. Fertility specialists may even decide to run a chromosomal analysis for Fragile X syndrome.
Once the testing is performed and results are collected, the egg donation process can start. This process begins with the donor taking medication for approximately 10 days. This medication is a fertility medication used to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs in one cycle. This medicine, or Follicle Stimulation Hormone, needs to be self-administered through injections. Many doctor visits are required to monitor progress and make sure that the injections are doing what they should be doing. This monitoring involves a transvaginal ultrasound or more.
Before the donor is going to ovulate naturally, the eggs are removed by placing a needle that is attached to an ultrasound probe through the vaginal tissues. The eggs are then gently removed from the ovaries. This minor surgical procedure is done under conscious sedation and while there may be some discomfort for the donor, the process is generally safe and painless.
While this process is happening the recipient's uterus needs to be synchronized with the donor so that they are ready to receive the embryo. They are usually given medication as well, although this medication is used to suppress her ovaries and delay her cycle. If the recipient's natural cycle is already in sync with the anonymous egg donor, no medication is needed to delay her cycle. Once the donor starts their FSH injections, the recipient takes estrogen to prepare her uterine lining and then takes progesterone right before implantation.
When the donor’s eggs are retrieved from the donor they are fertilized and become embryos. After three to five days this embryo is transferred to the recipient's uterus and hormones continue until the early part of the first trimester (if the embryo takes). An embryo’s chance of taking is about 50%.
When deciding whether or not to donate your eggs, it might be beneficial to understand why many people rely on egg donations to conceive.
Women use egg donations when they are not able to get pregnant using their own eggs. This can be due to menopause, being born without ovaries, not responding to hormonal treatments or poor egg quality with previous IVF attempts. Some women also choose to use a donor's eggs versus their own if they have a genetic disease that they do not want to pass down to their children. Older women may choose to use donor eggs so that they know they are using healthy eggs to conceive.
An egg donor is paired with the intended parents depending on what the parents are looking for in a child. Since egg donors go through a medical screening, blood work, and genetic testing, there is more control over genetic factors through this process than through normal conception. While these parents have been longing for a child of their own, they also have the ability to choose what they want in that child. Some factors that they have control over are health history, physical appearance, education, and even possible personality.
When it comes to health history an egg recipient can ensure that out of the prospective egg donors, they find one that does not carry a genetic mutation that they do. For physical appearance, they can choose a candidate that has a higher chance of certain traits that they are looking for. These traits include height, hair color, eye color, BMI, and so on. Education for some is a big factor as well. The intended parents can choose to use eggs from a donor that has a higher level of education or is engaged in school in some way. Some agencies will even provide a short video of the donor so that the intended parents can see how the donor speaks and what her demeanor is.
An important factor to research before donating your eggs is if there are any risks involved. There are several potential risks and side effects to donating your eggs. Some of these include mild discomfort during blood draws and ultrasounds, allergic reaction to medications, and physiological distress.
The majority of the risks are involved in the medication taken and the egg retrieval procedure. The medication can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, mild abdominal pain, breast tenderness, bloating, and pain at the injection site. Egg Donor of America goes further in-depth with possible risks associated with the fertility drugs taken. Here are the risks that they share,
“Fertility Drugs - moderate weight gain, mood changes, stomach pressure, headaches, allergic reaction, Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) of the ovaries (5% chance in any cycle). In very rare cases, hyperstimulation could lead to enlarged ovaries and increased susceptibility to developing blood clots necessitating hospitalization. In very rare cases it may also lead to the development of fluid in the abdomen or lungs, kidney failure, or stroke. In extremely rare cases, an enlarged hyperstimulated ovary will rupture. This may necessitate general anesthesia and major surgery, with all the inherited risks. Loss of one or both ovaries is possible. The risk of hyperstimulation is minimized if the follicles are aspirated as is planned to occur at the donor egg retrieval. The risk increases if, after taking the fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries, you choose not to undergo egg retrieval. There also exists an unlikely possibility of a lasting effect on your pelvic organs, including pain, irregular menstrual function, or impairment of future fertility. Finally, an association between fertility drugs and ovarian cancer has been suggested but not proven.”
Besides the discomfort that comes with the egg retrieval process, there are other risks associated with it as well. Egg Donor of America explains this in-depth as well. They share these risks,
“Ultrasound-guided egg retrieval - mild to moderate discomfort after the procedure. Potentially serious complications include bleeding, infection, and injury to the bowel or blood vessels. In extremely rare circumstances, surgery may be necessary to repair damage to internal organs or to control significant internal bleeding (i.e., hemorrhage). Anesthesia will be necessary for egg retrieval. (The risks associated with anesthesia will be explained during a consultation with an anesthesiologist.) There may be additional risks of donating eggs, which at the present time have not yet been identified. Since it is theoretically possible that not all of the developed eggs will be recovered at the time of retrieval, there is a risk that you may become pregnant if you engage in unprotected intercourse during the egg donation cycle(s).”
Many agencies claim that there is little to no long-term risk involved in egg donation and this may be the case, but there are others that claim differently. The real answer is that there hasn’t been enough testing and research put in to know for sure. At this point, there is “no known long-term risk” to egg donation.
When a donor goes through the process of donating her eggs, she is heavily monitored. However, this monitoring stops after the process is over. The long-term effects of donating eggs are not certain because a donor doesn't receive further monitoring years later to see if there have been any effects from the process. There currently isn’t a national donor registry to monitor this process.
Some egg donors have reported cancers and fertility issues years after donating their eggs. This however can not be confirmed to be associated with the surgical procedure done and medication taken for egg donation.
To some, it may be puzzling to know why someone would choose to donate their eggs and go through the taxing process. However, many women choose to go through this process, and here are some of their reasons why:
After reviewing this article I hope you have a better idea of what is involved with egg donation and if it is something that you are interested in. The decision to donate your eggs is not an easy one and I recommend doing a lot of research and reaching out to multiple clinics to grasp what it would be like for you personally.
If you are looking for support on this decision I suggest finding a support group of women that have gone through the process already. There are private Facebook support groups for people interested in egg donation that can be super helpful for potential egg donors. In the groups, donors talk about their experience donating their eggs, ask questions, and give advice to others. We Are Egg Donors is one of the groups on Facebook and is an invite-only private group.