Egg donation is an altruistic act in which a young and healthy woman decides to donate a small part of her eggs to an assisted reproduction clinic or egg bank.
The objective of this is that other women or couples with infertility problems can have these donated eggs and thus achieve the desired pregnancy. The donation can be anonymous and charitable or nonanonymous.
Once all the tests required of the egg donor have been passed, the procedure basically consists of two steps:
- Hormonal ovarian stimulation treatment
- Follicular puncture for egg retrieval
In order to compensate for any inconvenience caused during the process, the egg donors will receive economic compensation from the clinic.
Provided below is an index with the 8 points we are going to expand on in this article.
How can I donate eggs?
Egg donation, on many occasions, is the only alternative available to some women to be able to have a pregnancy and become mothers.
For this reason, the main motivation of egg donors should be to help these women, many of whom have suffered from cancer or premature ovarian failure, in an altruistic and supportive way.
Before going to the assisted reproduction clinic, women willing to donate their eggs must check if they meet the requirements demanded by fertility clinics to make the donation. We comment on them below:
- Be between 18 and 35 years old
- Be physically and mentally healthy
- Have normal ovulatory function
- Do not suffer from malformations, infections and/or hereditary genetic diseases
- Not be adopted, since it is essential to know the medical history of close relatives
- Not having given birth to more than 6 children
You can read more details about all these conditions for egg donation in the following article: Requirements and qualifications to donate eggs.
First informative visit
The egg donation process begins with a first visit by the potential donor to the clinic in order to obtain all the information about the process and resolve any possible doubts.
This first informative visit does not commit anything to the future donor. The clinic staff will only conduct an interview and verify that the woman meets all the requirements to donate eggs.
If so, and the woman is finally willing to donate, informed consent will be signed to start the whole process.
It should be noted that at this point the woman has not yet become an egg donor, since she must first pass all the necessary medical tests, which we discuss in the next section.
Egg donor tests
The medical and psychological tests that egg donors must pass are the following:
- Gynecological examination
- An ultrasound is done to check the status of the donor's ovarian reserve.
- Blood analysis
- the donor's blood group is checked and infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, etc. are ruled out.
- Genetic study
- A karyotype is performed to see all the donor's chromosomes and, in addition, the DNA is studied using a test that analyzes more than 600 possible genetic diseases.
- Psychological test
- questionnaires are filled out with information on the medical history of the donor and her relatives. A psychological test is also done to verify that the woman does not suffer from any mental disorder.
Once it has been verified that the candidate meets the requirements and is physically and emotionally prepared for the donation, she will have a visit with the gynecologist and the treatment will begin.
How are the eggs obtained?
The treatment to obtain the eggs consists of the first phase of ovarian stimulation and then a follicular puncture to be able to extract the eggs by aspiration.
In most clinics, egg donors attend an initial workshop where the nursing staff explains how to administer the medication and answers any questions related to the treatment.
Ovarian stimulation consists of the administration of hormonal medication with the aim of causing multiple follicular development in the donor's ovaries. In other words, the ovaries will be capable of producing and maturing several ovarian follicles at the same time and, therefore, it will be possible to obtain a high number of ovules in the puncture.
To do this, the donor must administer hormonal medication daily through injections provided by the clinic and follow the guidelines set by the gynecologist.
Each stimulation protocol is different depending on each woman. In general, ovarian stimulation usually lasts approximately 8-10 days.
During this time, the donor will need to come to the clinic every other day or so for stimulation check-ups. The gynecologist will check how the growth of the follicles is going and will determine the best day to retrieve the eggs.
Ovarian or follicular puncture is a very simple surgical intervention to be able to extract the eggs from the donor. It is performed under anesthesia and lasts approximately 30 minutes.
During the intervention, the gynecologist will carefully puncture the follicles and aspirate the liquid from the inside, where the mature ovules are located.
The woman will then spend some time resting in the recovery room, but hospital admission is not necessary. Therefore, the egg donor will be able to go home that same day, a few hours after the puncture, and follow her usual routine.
Approximately two weeks after the egg donation, the woman's period will return, marking the end of the egg donation cycle and the beginning of a new menstrual cycle.
Egg donors can get financial compensation for fulfilling their responsibilities as donors. The compensation rate varies by country, mainly depending on whether commercial egg donation is allowed or not.
According to the ASRM's guidelines, the economic compensation given to egg donors should be justified on ethical grounds, and structured as an acknowledgment of the time, discomfort, and inconveniences derived from screening, ovulation induction, and egg retrieval.
In countries such as Spain, where the Law states that an egg donation is an altruistic act, egg donors are paid €800-1,000. On the other hand, donors in the USA can be paid a monetary compensation of $6,500 the first time, and up to $15,000 in subsequent cycles.
There are two types of remuneration for egg donation:
- Monetary compensation: In recognition of the significant time, discomforts, and inconveniences associated with the process.
- Egg sharing IVF: The woman who donates her eggs will undergo IVF at a reduced cost.
High payments could create the possibility of indue inducement or even exploitation in the donation process. Many women may discount the risks associated with egg donation out of their eagerness to get financial compensation.
Donating eggs means contributing your own DNA to another couple, which can create a feeling of grief in some women. It is crucial for egg donors to understand what egg donation is all about as a way of avoiding feelings of regret and ethical dilemmas.
Women should consider both the pros and the cons before applying to become egg donors. Also, it should be clear that, despite they will share part of their DNA with the donor-egg baby, they have no rights or obligations over the child.
To become an egg donor, women have to understand that the genetic link is not the only aspect defining motherhood. Donors give little importance to the DNA and understand it goes beyond the basic concept of motherhood. They understand being a mother involves processes such as the upbringing of a child, education, loving someone, being a caretaker...
FAQs from users
Does egg donation decrease a woman's fertility period?
Egg donation does not diminish a woman's fertility. A woman is born with a defined number of eggs that will be lost with each cycle, becoming useful only a few, which are those that reach maturity and the rest are eliminated naturally.
In each menstrual cycle of a fertile woman only one egg matures (sometimes more), with respect to a number of oocytes (10-20) that would naturally degenerate. What is treated with an egg donation treatment is to stimulate the donor's ovaries with hormonal medication, so that more follicles grow and thus maturation occurs in a greater number of oocytes that would otherwise be lost because they would suffer atresia.
Therefore, by recovering those oocytes that would be naturally eliminated, we are not affecting the fertility of women who want to donate eggs or their ovarian reserve.
What is the financial compensation received by egg donors?
Egg donation must be an altruistic act and, of course, voluntary, between the donor and the medical center, without the intervention of the recipient of the oocytes at any time.
What this law does allow is that the donor receives financial compensation for the many inconveniences she will suffer, among which are the costs of travel to the clinic, the loss of working hours, and of course the physical discomfort caused by ovarian stimulation and follicular puncture. Most centers opt for an amount of 7.000€ - 10.000€ for egg donors.
Is becoming an egg donor worth it?
In recent decades, with the advent of birth control and family planning methods, more women choose to delay motherhood until their late 30s or even 40s. As a consequence, the demand for infertility services has increased.
So, of course it is worth it, as you are helping others create a family in spite of being unable with their own egg cells. Understanding that donating your eggs does not mean selling reproductive cells is crucial: egg donation is an altruistic process above all.
What are the risks of egg donation for donors?
The risks that can result from the donation process stem primarily from ovarian stimulation and follicular puncture. Although it occurs occasionally and can be avoided, poorly controlled hormonal stimulation can lead to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).
On the other hand, follicular puncture, although simple, is an operation that is performed under anesthesia and therefore is not completely risk-free.
What are the legal risks of egg donation?
The donor must sign an informed consent once she has received all the information about the purposes and consequences of the act. Egg donation is anonymous and Law 14/2006 guarantees this confidentiality. However, children born by egg donation have the right to obtain general information from donors that does not include their identity. In addition, this law includes an exception:
In extraordinary circumstances involving a certain danger to the life or health of the child or when appropriate under the Criminal Procedural Laws, the identity of the donors may be disclosed, provided that such disclosure is indispensable to avoid the danger or to achieve the proposed legal purpose.
I need egg donation, I have a sister who looks like me and is willing to do it, can she be my donor?
Even if you both agree, depending on the clinic they will allow it or not. If they don´t allow it your fertility center will select the donor based on your blood type and your main characteristics, such as physical build, height, skin color, hair, and eyes.
The ones listed above are the most basic requirements to become an egg donor. If you want to learn in more detail, we recommend you to have a look at the following post: Requirements to donate eggs.
If you have already made up your mind and cannot wait to submit your application for donating eggs, you should know all about the medical process you are about to undergo. Should this be your case, then do not miss this: What is the procedure for donating eggs?
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Ballesteros A, Castilla JA, Nadal J, Ruiz, M. Manifiesto de la SEF sobre la donación de gametos en España. Publicado a través de la Sociedad Española de Fertilidad (SEF).
Comisión Nacional de Reproducción Humana Asistida (CNRHA) (2015). Aspectos legales y éticos de la donación. En: Registro Nacional de Donantes de Gametos y Preembriones. Ministerio de Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar Social de España.
Ley 14/2006, de 26 de mayo, sobre técnicas de reproducción humana asistida. Jefatura del Estado «BOE» núm. 126, de 27 de mayo de 2006 Referencia: BOE-A-2006-9292
Sociedad Española de Fertilidad (SEF) (febrero de 2012). “Saber más sobre fertilidad y reproducción asistida”. En colaboración con el Ministerio de Sanidad, Política Social e Igualdad del Gobierno de España y el Plan de Calidad para el Sistema Nacional de Salud.
Sociedad Española de la Fertilidad (SEF). Libro Blanco Sociosanitario. La Infertilidad en España Situación Actual y Perspectivas. Imago Concept & Image Development 2011.
FAQs from users: 'Does egg donation decrease a woman's fertility period?', 'What is the financial compensation received by egg donors?', 'How much can you sell your eggs for?', 'If you donate your eggs can you still have babies?', 'Does selling your eggs hurt? Is it safe?', 'Is becoming an egg donor worth it?', 'Donating eggs means you are the biological mom of the baby born as a result of your donation?', 'How does being an egg donor work?', 'What are the risks of egg donation for donors?', 'What are the legal risks of egg donation?', 'Selling eggs to fertility clinics multiple times, is it possible?', 'I need egg donation, I have a sister who looks like me and is willing to do it, can she be my donor?', 'What type of anesthesia is used for egg retrieval? Local or general?' and 'Can I gain weight during the ovum donation process?'.
Authors and contributors
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Hi Dr. How can a woman become and egg donor? I am from England, 24 yo and no idea on how to start. I want to do it for money. Thank you.
To become an egg donor in the UK, the most important is to fulfill certain criteria, which will determine whether you’re suitable for egg donation or not.
First and foremost, prospective donors should not be older than 36. Second, you will be screened to make sure you are free from diseases that could cause any abnormalities to the resultant child. Also, you will be required to sign a written consent, which can be withdrawn at any point as long as your eggs have not been used in treatment yet.
Finally, it is important to note that egg donors do not get a payment for donating eggs, that is, using the term “selling eggs” is incorrect. Egg donors are compensated for the effort and expenses derived from the process, with an amount of up to £750 per cycle of donation in accordance with the conditions established by the HFEA (Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority).
I hope this helps,