How and where can I donate my eggs?
When you choose to donate your eggs, you are performing a great act of empathy and compassion. Many egg donors understand the struggles an individual or couple may go through in attempts to start a family, and they want to help.
Couples facing infertility, LGBTQ couples, single parents and others often require the assistance of egg donors to have a child. By donating your eggs, you are helping someone's dream of being a parent come true.
Here are the answers to 10 of the most frequently asked questions about egg donation.
1. How and where can I donate my eggs?
You can choose to donate your eggs directly to an egg bank, through a fertility clinic that runs a donor service, to an agency that will match you with an intended parent, or through directed donations.
In a directed donation, the donor donates eggs directly to a family member or friend, without the process of the agency or fertility clinic doing the matchmaking for them. You still need medical support to donate the egg, you just skip the matchmaking process, because this is done between people that already know each other.
If you choose to seek out an agency, it is important that you select a reputable agency that has your best interests at heart and will communicate with you throughout your journey. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
2. How much do you get paid for donating eggs?
Along with the appreciation and gratitude from intended parents, egg donors are given financial compensation for fulfilling their donor responsibilities—compensation rewards donors for their time, effort and dedication.
In general, the egg donation compensation ranges from $6,500 to $30,000. The suggested compensation is put specifically in place so that the process of egg donation not financially coercive. Egg donation is an altruistic act. For many egg donors, the compensation is not the main motivation to donate eggs, but rather the participation in giving the miracle of life.
3. How does egg donation work?
The first step for an egg donor is to complete an online application. It is important to be very thorough with your answers. Not only will it make your profile stand out, but we will need as much genetic information as possible about you and your family to determine if you are eligible to donate.
When your application is approved, you will need to schedule a time to meet with a Donor Coordinator in person, Skype or FaceTime. Your profile will now be searchable for intended parents to view and ultimately match with.
If you are a first-time donor (or a repeat donor who has not cycled in a while), you will have an initial screening visit to the doctor's office. You will have your blood drawn on the third day of your menstrual cycle for hormone tests, and may undergo a transvaginal ultrasound as well as a psychological evaluation by a licensed therapist to make sure you are making the decision completely uncoerced.
When your pre-testing results are optimal, and you have been psychologically cleared, the cycling doctor will want to meet you for the first time to conduct their own medical and genetic screening.
Once you are medically cleared by the doctor, but before you start medications, you will go through the legal process. Your case manager will assign you an attorney to review and finalize a legal contract to be signed by you and the intended parents. Upon receipt of all signed contacts, the intended parent's attorney issues a legal clearance letter, enabling the doctor to begin the medical cycle.
4. What medications are needed for egg donation?
A medication calendar will be created for you by the doctor, and you will be able to begin your medications, which will stimulate your ovaries to produce and grow the eggs.
While on medications, you will be medically monitored to check your response to the hormones. Your schedule will need to be flexible during this time to accommodate the many appointments for medical monitoring—blood draws to test hormone levels and vaginal ultrasound examinations to allow the doctor to monitor the growth of the eggs in your ovaries.
HCG or a Lupron trigger is your final injection, and this initiates the final stage of maturation and timing of the egg retrieval. Your retrieval will be scheduled 36 hours following this shot.
5. What happens during egg retrieval?
The egg retrieval procedure takes about 20-30 minutes and requires about 1-2 hours of postoperative recovery. During the procedure, you will be under light sedation. The egg retrieval is performed vaginally, and the eggs are aspirated with an ultrasound-guided needle. You will need to have a companion drive you to and from the procedure.
6. How old do you have to be to donate eggs?
Guidelines set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) recommend egg donors should be their state's age of legal majority and preferably be between the ages of 21 and 34. Generally speaking, egg donors can be between the ages of 18 and 35, although this will vary depending on the agency or clinic you work with.
7. How many times can you donate eggs?
Reputable egg donation programs will follow the guidelines for egg donors that are set by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and the State Health Department. The ASRM guidelines recommend egg donors donate no more than six times to limit the potential health impact (see question 9 below).
This limit is also necessary because all children from a single donor will be genetic half-siblings. The chance that they might meet later in life and be unaware of the relationship raises health concerns about their potential offspring—if two half-siblings have a child together, there could be genetic complications in that child.
Many egg donors do donate more than once because of the financial freedom, flexibility and rewarding journey in being able to help build families.
8. Does donating eggs hurt?
When starting the stimulation phase, some of our donors have reported feeling tired and bloated—symptoms similar to PMS—while other donors have had little to no side effects. It is good to note that these symptoms are temporary and will go away.
During the egg retrieval process, you will be under light sedation so that you will not experience any pain during the procedure. Because you are sedated, donors may experience grogginess and irritability post-procedure. Donors should be closely monitored for several hours after the procedure.
Although extremely rare, medical complications can arise, and donors are advised to always consult with their physician about any specific concerns and questions. Remember that the clinic has just as much responsibility to you as they do to the intended parent to protect everyone's health and well-being.
9. Is egg donation safe?
Currently, there are no clearly documented long-term risks associated with egg donation.
As with any medical procedure, there may be risks associated with egg donation—controlled ovarian stimulation, the retrieval procedure and anesthesia, among others. In an effort to protect against possible risks, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) tailors their recommendations to limit the number of stimulated cycles for a given donor to six.
Additionally, before an egg donor agrees to begin the egg donation process, she should be given specific information on the known risks of egg donation as well as consulting with her doctor prior to entering into a donor contract. You are your best advocate, and we believe that the more well-informed a person is on the egg donation process, the less anxiety they feel.
10. I want to have a child but am struggling with fertility issues. How do I decide if egg donation is right for me?
When you are investing in your family building journey, struggling with fertility issues can generate a wide range of emotions. And deciding if egg donation is right for you can be one of the scariest, most life-changing decisions you can make.
Using donor eggs may be a great option if your eggs will not fertilize and develop properly due to age, genetic abnormalities, damage from treatments such as cancer therapy, premature menopause or unexplained infertility.
It is important to not only find a fertility specialist that you trust and who will treat you with personal and compassionate care but also connect with an egg donation agency that will do the same.