The qualifications for egg donation vary by country, although all donors should be screened and meet a series of requirements related to their age and health status. Whether you are working with a friend, sister family member or an anonymous donor, she has to previously qualify for egg donation.
Candidates to become egg donors are expected to have a great desire to help others create a family. After filling out an application form, candidates are pre-screened before being accepted into the egg donor program, regardless of whether they are anonymous women, friends or family members.
All potential egg donors should have attained the age of legal majority (18 years old), preferably within the 21-34 age group. The goal is to make sure she is capable of making mature decisions and provide true informed consent.
The cut-off age to donate eggs is often 34 because younger women:
- Usually respond favorably to controlled ovarian stimulation (COS)
- Are able to produce a higher number of eggs
- Have greater chances of creating high-quality embryos with great implantation potential
- Allow for the achievement of higher pregnancy success rates
From age 36 onwards, the likelihood of embryo implantation failure is higher. In this sense, recipients should be informed about the potential risks of having a baby who is a carrier of any chromosomal abnormality like the Down syndrome.
What are egg donors screened for?
All women willing to donate their eggs, both unknown and known, should be psychologically, genetically and medically pre-screened in accordance with the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).
Egg donors are screened for risk factors for and clinical evidence of hereditary diseases and infections. A donor is ineligible if this screening shows the presence of a risk factor. Laboratory tests should include testing for:
- HIV-1 and HIV-2
- Hepatitis B and C
- Chlamydia trachomatis
Both known and anonymous egg donors must complete a medical questionnaire, thanks to which they can show their personal and family medical history. It includes questions related to their sexual, substance abuse, family disease, and psychological history.
In the case of anonymous donors, the candidate’s motivation for donating eggs will be assessed to provide insight into her personality, educational background, life goals, etc.
Egg donors should have documentation of their blood type and Rh status, rubella titer, and complete blood count. In some clinics, they have the possibility of being tested for the presence of cystic fibrosis (CF).
Although some parents recruit egg cell donors from advertisements, this practice is totally unadvisable, as the donor has not been screened and therefore may suffer from a severe genetic or infectious disease.
What to know about donating eggs
Informing donors that donating their gametes does not give them any legal right or duty to rear the donor-conceived children is a key step at the very beginning of the process.
Likewise, IVF programs should strongly encourage donors, as well as recipients, that they have to provide medical updates at any point of the process if they learn about serious genetic or other conditions that may compromise the offspring’s health.
Although donors often choose to provide gametes to others because they are willing to help them create a family, they may be motivated for getting an economic compensation as well. Along with them, other interests may be present, such as:
- Being protected in the process
- Being treated fairly if injuries occur
- Having no obligations imposed on them without their prior consent
- Being informed about the outcome of their donation
- Having or not having contact with the donor-conceived child
The latter point is still an area of uncertainty according to the ASRM. Thus, whereas some donors may wish to remain anonymous and simply donate their gametes, others may be interests in getting to know the prospective families.
FAQs from users
Can you be an egg donor with HPV (human papillomavirus infection) or herpes?
Usually, clinics disqualify candidates with HPV or herpes because they are viral infections likely to be passed to offspring and may compromise the safety of the procedure. Egg donor screenings generally include testing for STDs like HIV, syphilis, genital herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea.
What are the requirements for donating eggs for money?
It depends on the country. In most European countries (Spain, Cyprus, Greece, Czech Republic…), donors are allowed to get a compensation for the expenses and inconveniences causes during and after the process, but they cannot be paid. In the United States, however, payment is allowed as long as you fulfill all your responsibilities as an egg donor.
Are there any specific requirements to donate eggs to your sister?
Known egg donation is allowed in some countries, but regardless of whether you choose an anonymous or a known egg donor, the screening process will be exactly the same, including cases where the sister, cousin, aunt, sister-in-law, etc. becomes the egg donor.
You can find more information about intrafamilial egg donation here: Egg donation to a family member for IVF.
Is there any BMI (body mass index) or weight requirement to donate eggs?
Egg donors are required to be women of proportionate weight and heigh. This is because overweight may affect egg quality and therefore higher doses of drugs to induce ovulation may be required. Egg donors should be women of normal weight, with a BMI under 28.
Can you become an egg donor if your tubes are tied?
Yes, egg retrieval takes place before the oocytes are released by the body, which means it is irrelevant.
Can you be an egg donor while on birth control?
Yes, contraceptives are not an impediment to become an egg donor. In fact, they may be advantageous, as they allow your cycle to be monitored more accurately. However, when you start taking medications for egg production, you will have to stop with contraceptives and start again when the donation process finishes.