As a mom to three beautiful kids, I’m no stranger to reproduction. The internet, in all its wisdom, served up an advertisement about becoming an egg donor. I was intrigued about the subject and decided I’m probably not the only one with questions, so I’m sharing everything I learned in this article. Come along on the journey to learn six things about donating your eggs that you might not have known before.
You can make money
Even though it’s called donation, compensation typically changes hands. The amount varies wildly from nothing for a direct donation up to $25,000 in specific circumstances. The considerable compensation is in exchange for a physically demanding and time-consuming process.
All types of women donate eggs
Women who donate eggs come from every walk of life. For the most part, women become an egg donor between the ages of 22 and 32 years old. Many donors do it in honor of a close friend or family member who struggled with infertility. Some donate eggs to pay off student debt. Others are compassionate women who want to contribute to others because they can, in the same way that people donate blood.
Egg donation is regulated by the FDA
The FDA regulates egg donation in the same way it oversees all organ and tissue donations. Clinics must closely follow a lot of rules and regulations to qualify donors. You can be disqualified if you’ve gotten a tattoo or piercing in the last 12 months and can’t prove sterile procedures were used. You cannot donate if you test positive for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, or syphilis or if you were treated for gonorrhea or chlamydia in the past year.
Strict screening requirements mean only 3-4% of applicants ever donate
Every potential donor begins by filling out an online application that involves demographic info, health history including BMI, family history, and questions that determine if you meet the FDA guidelines. The strict guidelines about age requirements, BMI, and family history lead to disqualifications for the majority of those interested.
The screening process can take six weeks
Tests and visits will take place over multiple appointments and can take as long as six weeks. If the potential donor is accepted, the next step is to test ovarian function using hormones and a transvaginal ultrasound. Based on the number of eggs present, the medical team can determine if you are likely to have a good outcome. A patient consultation follows, which includes drug testing, bloodwork for disease screening and genetic markers, and a psychological test.
Donations occur just before implantation
Technology to freeze eggs is emerging rapidly, but the majority of cycles use freshly harvested eggs. Most donors match with a recipient couple before beginning the process of injections to stimulate production. The egg retrieval procedure only takes about 20 minutes under IV sedation. Most women take prescription painkillers the day of retrieval to relieve cramping and over the counter medication like ibuprofen after that.
I’m not sure donating eggs ever crossed my mind before the universe sent an advertisement my way. The process was a fascinating look at how the process is regulated and what it takes to get through it. I hope you learned as much as I did about the extraordinary women who donate so others can live their dreams. Have you had experience as a donor or have a story to tell? Please share.