By Rebeca Reus BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 10/18/2016

Egg donation has been increasingly accepted as a way of assisting women lacking healthy oocytes to have children. Thus, the main motivation of potential egg donors is helping these women create a family in spite of giving up on their own genetic material.

In many cases, the receiving couple chooses known egg donation as a way of using the oocytes of a close friend or relative. Usually, when this is the case, it stands for an unpaid donation of oocytes. Conversely, when it is an anonymous egg donor, programs may offer financial incentives.

How much do egg donors make?

When a woman donating oocytes for infertility therapy or for research agrees to do so, she may be offered a financial compensation in recognition of the significant time, discomfort, and inconvenience associated with egg donation.

In this sense, two types of remuneration can be found depending on the country:

  • Monetary compensation: It is offered to women who undergo controlled ovarian stimulation (COS) and egg retrieval for the sole purpose of donating their eggs, either for reproductive or research purposes.
  • Egg sharing for free IVF: This arrangement involves a woman who undergoes her own IVF cycle but at a reduced cost in exchange for donating some of her excess oocytes to another infertile patient.

Most egg donation programs offer an economic compensation to women voluntarily undergoing oocyte retrieval to provide eggs to others. Nevertheless, some variation in compensation arrangements can be found.

According to the ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine), sums of $5,000-10,000 are not appropriate. Still, some IVF programs offer as much as $8,000 for one retrieval, a rate which increases if the woman becomes a repetitive donor.

Donors are paid once the donation process finished and not earlier. In case the prospective egg donor regrets or wants to cancel the cycle, she will not be given any financial compensation. Depending on the fertility clinic, they may be required to pay the costs derived from the screening tests done to date.

Oocyte donors have the right to cancel the cycle at any point of the process as long as she has not given her eggs away to the recipient yet.

Donating eggs for money

Some women may agree to provide oocytes in response to financial need. Normally, prospective donors are women willing to help a couple have children, but they may also wish to be economically compensated.

The provision of financial benefits should not discourage the presence of altruistic motivations. As a matter of fact, the majority of women who decide to donate their eggs do so because they have a real wish to help childless women.

When donors decide to participate in response to financial need, high payments could lead them to hide or misinterpret medical information relevant to the health of their biologic offspring. This means that, as payment increases in amount, the number of ethical concerns increases as well.

Every woman undergoing egg retrieval is exposed to a series of physical and psychological burdens and risks that should be thoroughly borne in mind. The most common side-effects are unintended pregnancy, morbidity, impaired fertility, and psychological distress.

For example, if a woman who donates some of her oocytes when she is 25 finds out at age 32 that she is infertile, she may feel some grief and regret based on her knowledge that another couple have become the parents of a child genetically related to her.

FAQs from users

Is egg donation taxable income? Will it affect taxes?

By Rebeca Reus BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Yes, in the USA, the compensation given to egg donors is considered taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). According to the Section 61 of the Internal Revenue Code, “all income from whatever sources derived, including compensation for services”.

What do the laws say about egg selling by country?

By Rebeca Reus BSc, MSc (embryologist).

As stated earlier, egg donation is not about selling eggs, but about giving other the chance to create a family. The sale of human eggs is forbidden internationally, and donors are generally entitled to reimbursement of the reasonable expenses incurred.

In Denmark, por example, egg banks and fertility clinics are offering women all-inclusive vacations for the price of donating their eggs. The Danish law, however, prohibits the sale of eggs.

Can you make more money if you donate your eggs privately?

By Rebeca Reus BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Legally, egg donors receive their compensation at the end of the cycle, but if they do it privately for example in the UK, they usually expect an additional fee at the beginning. In the USA, they are usually paid 10% of the agreed sum right after signing the agreement and 15% once accepted by the clinic.

Why are egg donors paid so much?

By Rebeca Reus BSc, MSc (embryologist).

In countries such as the United States, there is a large gap between the availability of and the demand for egg donors. This is the reason why agencies and IVF clinics recruit women by offering large sums of money: $8,000-15,000 per cycle, and sometimes even $100,000.

What are the benefits of payment given to egg donors?

By Rebeca Reus BSc, MSc (embryologist).

Although it is clear that financial compensations may cause some potential harms which must be addressed and acknowledged, it can be defended on ethical grounds too. For example, it has been proven that providing financial incentives increases the number of donors, which allows more infertile couples to become parents.

Thirdly, it can be said that financial compensation advances the ethical goal of fairness to donors. It should be kept in mind that egg donors have to bear several burdens not only on behalf of recipients, but also related to society in general. Thus, compensation for bearing them could be justified morally.

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Authors and contributors

 Rebeca Reus
BSc, MSc
Degree in Human Biology (Biochemistry) from the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF). Official Master's Degree in Clinical Analysis Laboratory from the UPF and Master’s Degree about the Theoretical Basis and Laboratory Procedures in Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). More information
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