Donating eggs: How can a woman become an egg donor?

Donating eggs is a process that is commonly referred to as selling eggs. However, a woman who becomes an egg donor is expected to act altruistically above all. The egg donation process involves the submission of an application, followed by an screening and the matching with a compatible recipient. This article will provide you with information about how much do egg donors get, the risks involved and other requirements.

The various sections of this article are assembled in the following table of contents.

What is an egg donor?

By egg donor we mean those women who willingly give their eggs away to another woman (recipient), so that the latter can get herself started with an infertility treatment that allows her to have a child.

To donate their eggs, prospective donors must take a series of medications in order to trigger the production of multiple eggs. A woman may choose to donate her oocytes to others for a number of reasons, including:

  • A desire to help others have children
  • Being economically compensated
  • Donating for stem cell research to science

Egg donors have the right to be fully informed from beginning to end, as medical procedures with potential side-effects are involved. In short, they must be counseled about both the pros and the cons of egg cell donation.

Donors should provide written consent for participating in a donor program. In the case of known egg donation, both the egg donor and the intended parents are strongly advised to have separate legal counsel and sign a legal contract.

The legal contract between the prospective parents and the donor should define the financial obligations and rights of the donor with respect to the gametes she is about to donate.

The economic compensation given to egg donors should be justified on ethical grounds, and structured as an acknowledgement of the time, discomfort, and inconveniences derived from screening, ovulation induction, and egg retrieval.

Types of profiles

Although in most European countries egg donors should remain anonymous, in general candidates can become egg donors in one of the following ways:

Non-anonymous donors
Known or directed donors are women whose identity is disclosed to the intended parent. This means you can become a donor for a friend, sister, or close relative (See Intrafamilial egg donation).
Anonymous egg donors
In this case, the donor remains unknown to the recipient, which means that donors are recruited through an agency’s established egg donation program or egg donor bank.
IVF programs
Although kind of limited, this type of donation involves a woman already undergoing IVF who agrees to donate some of her excess eggs to infertile patients. Women in this situation are often offered a financial discount on their own IVF cycle.

Donors can be recruited directly through advertisements. However, all donors should be pre-screened and tested for infectious and genetic diseases, among other crucial aspects concerning their health.

Requirements

All potential egg donors should have attained the age of legal majority (18 years old), and preferably be within the 21-34 age group.

Also, every woman willing to donate her eggs should be psychologically, genetically, and medically pre-screened. The evaluation of the egg donor comprises the following steps:

Medical history
Potential egg donors must complete an extensive medical questionnaire to provide information about their personal and family medical history. The motivation for donating their eggs will be assessed as well.
Risk factors
All potential egg donors are screened for risk factors for and clinical evidence of hereditary diseases and infections. A donor is ineligible if the presence of a risk factor is detected.
Laboratory testing
All donors must be tested for infectious and viral diseases, including syphilis, HIV-1 and HIV-2, hepatitis B and C, Chlamydia trachomatis, and neisseria gonorrhoeae.
Blood type
Prospective donors should have documentation of both their blood type and Rhesus factor status, as well as a complete blood count, and rubella titer.

Genetic screenings are not a requirement everywhere. However, if done, they should be based on ethnicity and include testing d for the presence of cystic fibrosis (CF). Karyotyping is not compulsory either, but may be offered by some fertility clinics.

Procedure

If the candidate passes all screening tests and proves to be eligible for egg donation, as well as mentally and physically prepared to get started, the process of egg retrieval begins, which involves basically three steps:

Ovulation induction
The donor is given a combination of hormonal medications to trigger the production of multiple eggs within the ovary. Development of eggs is monitored by ultrasound along with measurement of hormones in blood.
Ovum pick-up
Once mature, the eggs are harvested from the ovary around 34-36 hours after hCG administration. The process for egg retrieval is called transvaginal ultrasound aspiration or follicle puncture.

After having your eggs harvested, you have to return to the clinic for a post-retrieval checkup to make sure your recovery from ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval is developing properly. Normally, egg donors return back to normal in a day or two.

Potential risks and problems

Although the appearance of side-effects is unlikely, egg donors must be fully informed about the potential risks this medical procedure involves.

The following are the most common risks:

  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS): It is one of the most common side effects of oocyte donation. It is related to the administration of hormonal medications for ovulation induction. Symptoms include sickness, nausea, physical discomfort, fever, etc.
  • Surgery complications: Issues associated with surgery and the use of anesthesia are also rather common after egg donation.

Even though complications are unlikely, donors have the right to be fully informed prior to getting started with the process. You can find all the information here: Potential risks of egg donation.

Finally, egg donors should know that donating eggs does not affect your future fertility, as the oocytes donated belong to a group that would have degenerated if they would have been donated. In short, egg donation has no negative impact on the ovarian reserve of the donor.

Compensation

Egg donors can get a financial compensation for fulfilling their responsibilities as donors. The compensation rate varies by country, mainly depending on whether the commercial egg donation is allowed or not.

In countries such as Spain, where the Law states that 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, an up to $15,000 in subsequent cycles.

There exist 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 a financial compensation.

Ethical issues

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

How much money do you get for donating eggs?

As mentioned earlier, the payment given to egg donors varies by country and the regulations governing it there. If you donate in the USA, compensation rates range from $6,000 to $15,000. The Spanish Law does not allow sums exceeding €800-1,000. In the UK, the amount is similar: around £750 to cover the costs derived from the process.

If you donate your eggs, can you still have babies?

Yes, egg donors can still get pregnant in the future if they wish so. Donating eggs does not have a negative impact on future fertility. Keep in mind that the group of eggs donated would have degenerated if they had not been donated. A woman’s fertility is not compromised after egg donation.

Does donating your eggs hurt? Is it safe?

The process for egg retrieval is carried out under mild anesthesia, which makes it a totally safe procedure. However, discomforts may arise as a side effect of ovulation induction. Bruises in the injection area, exhaustion or leg swelling are common symptoms.

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.

Donating eggs means you are the biological mom of the baby born as a result of your donation?

Yes, the biological mother of a child is the woman whom he inherits half of his DNA. As DNA is inherited from the gametes from which a person is conceived, the donor would be the biological mother of the child, and the recipient the birth mother.

How does being an egg donor work?

If you meet all the requirements and have made the decision that you want to help others by donating your eggs, the first thing you should do is visiting a fertility clinic or egg bank and apply as a candidate. You will be medically and psychologically pre-screened and, if all tests are successful, the timeline will be established.

Donating eggs multiple times, is it possible?

There is a need for limiting how many times a woman can donate her eggs in those countries where there is no limit yet. The chance that donor-conceived children they meet later in life raises health concerns about their potential offspring.

Many young women decide to sell their eggs as a means of supplementing their income thanks to the economic compensation they get. Donors should be aware, however, of the potential long-term risks and make choices accordingly.

The more times a given woman donates her eggs, the higher the chances of inadvertent consanguinity. If children are unaware of their genetic heritage, this may turn out to be a real problem in the future.

Suggested for you

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?

One comment

  1. usuario
    Sally6

    I strongly agree with the ASRM in all terms. Egg donation must be an altruistic act, and anyone willing to do it because they just want to get some cash should refrain themselves from participating in such a process. Thanks for the info! +1