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February 12, 2022 by Allia Luzong
Though more and more people are choosing to become childfree, most people still want a chance to have their own children. Back in the day, aspiring parents only had two choices for having children: do it the old-fashioned way or adopt a child.
Thanks to modern technology and advances in medicine, parents can have children that are biologically related to at least one of them, regardless of the sex of either partner or their age. Depending on the parents-to-be’s situation, they may opt for artificial insemination, in-vitro fertilization, surrogacy, or the use of donor eggs.
In this article, we’ll be talking specifically about donating eggs for people who want to donate eggs. This guide will have everything you need to know about what egg donation is, what you need to know about donating eggs, and the potential legal technicalities you need to prepare for when you donate eggs.
For readers who aren’t interested in being egg donors but in receiving eggs, stick around to understand what it’s like to donate eggs so you can better prepare for collaborating with the egg donor if you happen to know yours.
Egg donation is exactly what it sounds like. When a person donates eggs, they’re giving another person their egg cells as part of a fertility treatment to help them conceive a child.
This is typically done when the receiving person is no longer able to produce egg cells (i.e menopause, illness, etc.), has hormonal issues that affect her egg cells, or produces eggs that have not resulted in viable embryos. Egg cell donation is also beneficial for male-to-female transitioners who do not have the reproductive equipment needed to create egg cells naturally.
However, there are instances when a person may opt to look for an egg donor even if they’re able to produce their own healthy egg cells.
If a woman is aware that she has severe genetic conditions that may be passed on to her child, for example, she may choose to use an egg cell provided by an egg donor. If that’s the case, the egg cell will be provided by a non-biologically related donor.
If the woman’s family has no history of severe genetic diseases, she and her partner (assuming there’s one involved), can still have a child that’s genetically related to her by means of a relative’s donated egg cell.
If you’re planning to donate an egg cell, there’s likely one question at the forefront of your mind right now: how much money can you make by donating eggs?
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Here’s the answer most of you have been looking for: $5,000 to $10,000 per cycle. However, that number is based on the average range you can expect to make by donating eggs. Depending on your circumstances, the money you make from being an egg donor can be much higher or lower. Certain fertility clinics and agencies will offer as much as $8,000 to $10,000 per cycle.
Of course, if you’re donating to a relative, chances are that it’s a pro bono deal. If you want to be compensated for donating to a relative, make sure to clarify the terms of payment and how much will be paid to prevent any misunderstandings. Aside from that, you’ll also want to discuss the relationship, if any, that you will have with the child.
Now, onto more sensitive topics. Some people have raised ethical concerns about two aspects of the egg cell donation industry. The first one has to do with the use of egg cell donors in foreign countries. The second is about selecting specific traits when choosing egg donors. If that’s something that you feel will matter to you, whether you’re a donor or a receiver, you may research these further.
Egg cell donors outside the U.S can expect to receive slightly lower compensation depending on a multitude of factors, the foremost of which is economic.
If you happen to have what fertility clinics call “desirable traits,” you can likely get a better price for your egg cells. It’s no secret that genetics influences our looks as much as it does our natural talents. After all, despite the benefits of formal training and plastic surgery, it takes a genetic gift along with all the trappings of nurture to make an exceptional child.
Premium egg donors are chosen for traits like physical attractiveness, certain eye or hair colors, and even ethnicity. Eggs from Asian, Jewish, and East Indian donors can command higher prices than egg cells from donors of other ethnicities.
Part of this is due to the belief that people from this race are more intelligent, hardworking, and dutiful. That said, most parents who choose these ethnicities do so because they themselves are part of those ethnic groups and want their children to look like them.
Aside from selecting for race and beauty, some prospective parents are willing to pay a premium for egg cells from accomplished young women with artistic talents and academic achievements. Egg cells from women who have or still are attending a prestigious university’s law, medicine, engineering, graduate, and Ph.D. programs are especially valued.
One anonymous egg donor shared that she received $30,000 for her egg cells for meeting the receiver’s criteria for attractiveness, academic achievement, health, and, as can be deduced based on the screening tools the client used, emotional stability.
While egg donors can expect to be compensated, there are some costs associated with being an egg donor that you’ll need to account for. The most obvious part of this is the cost of food, vitamins, supplements, transportation, and medical procedures and tests that you’ll need during the donation cycle. You’ll also be asked to administer fertility drugs to yourself via injection.
Even though the receiving family or agency typically pays for all of the aforementioned, you need to consider whether the investment of your time is worth it for you. Being an egg donor takes a lot of time out of your day and that adds up fast. You might lose the time you need for other revenue-generating activities. For sex workers out there, you will be told not to be sexually active in the meantime.
Busy career women can also lose time and energy to the donation cycle due to the effects of fertility injections. Depending on their line of work, that time and energy might be better spent on their job or business. So, if you donate eggs, make sure to run the numbers on whether it’s worth it for you.
There are a number of qualifications that you’ll have to meet to become an egg donor. The first and most important one is age. Donors are expected to be young to avoid the fertility deterioration that comes with age. Because of this, the ideal egg donor should be aged between 21 to 35 years old. Many clinics and agencies may limit that to women between 21 to 29 years old to further ensure that the donated eggs will become viable embryos.
A woman’s weight also factors into fertility considerations. Since being overweight and underweight can affect the egg cell’s quality, donors are required to have a BMI or Body Mass Index between 19 and 25.
Donors are also required to know their full medical history, including that of their family’s, to avoid putting the resulting child at risk of a severe medical condition. Adoptees who wish to become egg cell donors need to know their biological parents’ medical history to account for illnesses that run in the family.
Clinics will also check whether you are physically and mentally healthy enough to donate and handle the stresses of the donation process.
Women who are currently on hormonal IUDs or contraceptives like Depo-Provera, Norplant, and Nexplanon are disqualified from being egg donors. Make sure to check with your agency or clinic to know if they have policies against other contraceptives.
Lifestyle factors can also disqualify you from being an egg donor. Women who have smoked in the past 12 months and had a tattoo in the past 6 months are typically barred from becoming a donor.
The more crucial disqualifications include having a sexually-transmitted disease, a history of substance abuse, and a history of heritable mental health problems.
If you don’t fit into any of the restrictions and you meet all of the qualifications, congratulations! You’re a qualified candidate for becoming an egg donor.
So you’ve read all that, discovered that you can qualify as a donor, and decided that you’ll go ahead with donating your egg cells. What now?
The first step is to get your documents in order. All clinics and agencies will ask for your identification details so have a valid ID, your birth certificate, or passport prepared. While the extent of this varies from clinic to clinic, all of them will ask for medical records. If you’re donating your eggs to an agency or clinic with a premium egg cell program, you may also be asked to bring in your academic records.
If you are working directly with the receiver, the amount of paperwork you need to present could be more lenient, as is the case with related donors.
Once you’re certain you want to go through with donating eggs and you have your documents ready, you can drop by your local fertility clinic and ask about their egg donation program. There are, of course, other modes for donating eggs.
Some donors may respond to ads or post advertisements themselves. Be careful, though. Egg donations outside of clinics can range from shady to illegal.
While a lot of egg donation sites focus on the feel-good aspects of being a donor, there’s no denying that the majority of donors are in it for the financial compensation so they might not care much for the legal side of being a donor. If that’s the case for you, remember that it’s also in your best interest to donate your eggs legally.
A lot of women tend to fear egg donation because they’re afraid it may impact their own fertility. But in reality, there’s little to fear about the donation process.
Think about it this way. Women will produce at least one egg cell per month. That’s the egg cell that comes out with your period blood during the monthly cycle. These egg cells come from your ovaries which hold approximately 1 million egg cells at the time of your birth. Once you reach your peak fertility, somewhere between your 20s and 30s, you will have about 120,000 egg cells left.
Of those, you can expect to donate 10 to 20 egg cells. You will have more than enough egg cells left to go back and donate another batch of eggs, have your own kids, and still have enough eggs left to make a few divisions of the U.S Army. That’s how many you have to spare. There is nothing to worry about on this front.
That said, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends that donors donate no more than six times in their lifetime to avoid the risk of complications, fertility loss, and accidental incest.
While the risk of having two children born from the same donated egg cells grow up to enter a relationship with each other and have children is much less than that of sperm donation, it’s still a real risk that poses danger to the children born from an accidental incestuous union.
Though donating eggs is far from being as invasive as other fertility programs like surrogacy, there are still some drawbacks to donating eggs.
Donors will be subjected to a process similar to what women undergoing IVF treatment are put through. There’s a stimulation phase where you’ll be injecting yourself with fertility medications for anywhere from 8-14 days.
During this time, your body will be producing as many eggs as possible. Whether the medications are injections, pills, or patches, you’ll have to go through several blood tests to monitor your hormone levels. Speaking of hormones, you may experience bloating, acne breakouts, mood swings, and increased stress levels.
In rare cases, egg donors may suffer from Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome or OHS because of the stimulation phase of the donation cycle. Donors who contract OHS will experience abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and tenderness in the area of their ovaries. More severe cases result in rapid weight gain and blood clots.
If you start to feel unwell during the donation cycle, immediately inform your doctor and clinic.
The short answer is: no. Agencies and clinics are set up in a way that donors do not have to meet prospective parents and vice versa. The degree of anonymity that you’ll get depends on the arrangements you have with the clinic but the typical procedure is to simply show the parents your general profile.
If you do agree to meet the parents — or in some cases, parent — you can expect the meeting to be facilitated by the agency or clinic staff. Meetings between the receiver and donor are usually conducted at the clinic, agency, or somewhere both parties can relax and talk such as a restaurant or coffee shop.
Donors who choose not to meet their egg cell’s receivers, however, will also not have any personal information about the prospective parents. They’ll be almost as anonymous to you as you are to them. The only info you might have about the receivers, if any, is whether the receiver is married and their country or state of residence.
Many cities have a fertility clinic or egg donation agency operating in them, especially if these cities happen to be in populous areas. Some egg donation programs also operate within hospitals and universities, so you can check out your local hospitals and med schools as well.
Egg Bank America maintains a list of reputable fertility centers that you can go to for donating your eggs. The list includes several clinics and hospitals all throughout the U.S. For donors located in the U.K and Ireland, the list contains a few centers and clinics that you can visit.
Most concerns about donating eggs that potential donors have are medical in nature. In a way, though, your likeliest risk will be of the legal variety.
No matter where you are in the world, family law is complicated. It gets even more complicated when you introduce factors like adoption, egg donation, sperm donation, and anything else that doesn’t follow the more established legal relations between biological parents and their biological children.
Thankfully, many reputable clinics provide in-house legal counseling or will offer to connect you with a law firm they’re partnered up with.
An attorney will usually take care of drafting up a contract between you and the receiver if there isn’t a template used by the clinic or if you or the parents require additional terms. Whether you donate directly or via an intermediary, please contact a lawyer to avoid legal complications down the line.
Laws regarding donating eggs, the relationship between the donor and the receiver, and the relationship between the donor and the resulting child vary from state to state and from country to country.
Under Texas state law, for example, a donor generally has no right to the children conceived from her eggs. Similarly, Washington state law establishes that there is no parent-child relationship between the donor and the child.
With regards to the legal relationship between you and the resulting child, it’s important to leave nothing to chance to avoid situations where you become legally responsible for them.
That said, there are currently no comprehensive laws regarding reproductive technology and its legal effects on family relations. Though a contract between you, the agency, and the receivers of your egg cell can stipulate that you wish to remain anonymous, there may be cases where the child that was made from your egg cell will want to establish contact with you.
Adopted children currently have the right to learn their personal history which includes the identity of their biological parents. While the legal ramifications of this with regards to children born from donated eggs are less clear, it’s important to be prepared in case it happens.
It’s even more crucial for parents and egg donors to prepare terms for future contact with the resulting child if the egg donor is biologically related to either parent or the parents and donor know each other. For example, egg donors who are friends, cousins, or siblings.
Aside from the possibility of the child wanting to know who their biological mother is, there’s a chance that you, as the donor, may change your feelings about the relationship you want to have with the child.
Donations made between donors and receivers who personally know each other often come with a greater chance of a legal dispute, ruined relationships, and disagreements as to what role the donor will have in the life of the child.
Because of these legal restrictions, many prospective parents have chosen to go to countries like Spain to get their egg cells. The Spanish assisted reproduction law makes things simpler for all parties by forbidding the donor and the resulting child from knowing each other.
So, if you want to donate your eggs, remember to be healthy, make it to all of your doctor’s appointments, and get a good lawyer.
A professional area woman whose brain is split equally between obscure psychology studies, bizarre legal cases, and strange Google searches that have put me on an FBI watchlist. As someone with firsthand experience on the intersections of psychology and the law, I support causes relating to minor victims of sexual abuse. Hyperfixations include Dungeons & Dragons, Genshin Impact, and color eyeliner.
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