Be prepared to self-inject!
Guide For Egg Donors
This information is for you if you are thinking about donating/selling your eggs.
What Does It Mean To Be An Egg Donor?
It means you agree to have a bunch of your eggs removed from your ovaries by surgical intervention. These eggs are then 'mixed' with sperm in a lab and implanted in another woman, resulting hopefully in the birth of a child. Even though the child will have half your DNA, you will be required to sign documents relenting any of your parental claims.
How Much Do Egg Donors Earn?
Between $3,000 and $5,000 dollars per cycle of harvested eggs. This is a lot more than a man receives for donating his sperm - he earns on average $100. But then again, you will have to go through a lot more - including taking fertility drugs to artificially boost your egg production, regular visits and tests at the donor clinic and finally an invasive procedure to harvest your eggs - hence the higher reward.
Some donors sell their eggs privately over the internet (craigslist for example), where it's possible to earn more. Private buyers tend to be looking for designer babies. If you happen to look like America's next Top Model, and have a degree from Harvard, then chances are you'll get a lot more for your eggs by going private. In-demand ethnic background, such as Jewish or Asian can also increase your asking price. Some fertility clinics however will pay more for such exceptional candidates.
What Do Clinics Look For In Egg Donors?
To be accepted by an egg donation clinic, you will need to pass a physical test and fall within certain health and age parameters. See: What type of egg donors do clinics want?
What Is The Procedure?
We have to be honest, it's not a particularly pleasant procedure. It takes time - lots of clinic visits, injections, your body will be pumped full of hormone injections that make you feel like you're permanently premenstrual. Finally you are sedated for the egg retrieval process, as a surgeon inserts an instrument through your vagina and sucks the eggs out of your ovaries.
This complete procedure is considered one 'cycle'.
Read more about the egg donation procedure.
Still want to go ahead?
Well, good for you! You may be on the verge of gifting life to a couple who can't conceive.
Industry guidelines recommend no more than 6 times. These guidelines are there to limit the number of offspring you put out into the world (we wouldn't want two of your offspring meeting later in life and unwittingly falling in love!). Also, guidelines are there to prevent you from overexposure to fertility drugs, although these guidelines are not based on any scientific data.
Will Egg Donation Affect My Fertility?
A 2012 study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility concluded that egg donation does not harm a woman's chances of becoming pregnant herself later.
Fertility doctors agree that there is no biological reason that donating eggs would cause infertility. According to Sean Tipton of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), egg donors undergo the same drug treatment as IVF patients - and studies of IVF patients show it is safe.
However, experts can't say for sure because there are no long-term follow up studies of egg donors. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks the number of eggs donated to infertile women every year (19,000 in 2012), no-one knows how many donors those eggs came from, who they were or if they were exceeding industry guidelines of 6 cycles in a lifetime.
The main health concern for donors is cancer, although studies in this area are sketchy. The most in-dept report so far, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology,reported stats from women who gave birth in Jerusalem in the early 1970s. Researchers found a significant 30-year increase in various cancers among those women who underwent fertility treatments, with the highest risk being for uterine cancer (endometrial cancer).
But the report isn't conclusive, because infertility itself raises the risk of uterine cancer. So it's hard to say if the cancer was caused by the disease or the infertility drugs used to treat it.
There have also been reported cases of donors experiencing premature menopause.
Pros And Cons For Egg Donors
It pays pretty well, about $5,000 on average.
You get to gift a baby to someone who really wants it. You are a miracle worker!
Let's face it, the procedure is pretty unpleasant and involves lots of needles!
The process takes longer than you probably expect, after signing with a clinic, it could be up to 6 months from start to finish.
You're not allowed to have sexual intercourse for prolonged periods, this may not suit everyone.
Longterm medical repercussions have to be considered.
How will you feel, knowing a child with your DNA is out there in the world and won't be part of your life?
Egg donation is not a guarantee for a baby. How will you feel if the process does not result in a baby for your host family?
Personal Stories By Egg Donors
"I woke up to tumbleweeds of my own blonde hair on my pillows, and that it would fall out in clumps for months. Or about the number of times I vomited from nausea and migraines, induced by the high levels of hormones I was pumping through my body. I would’t tell them that no one knew if the effects of these hormones would haunt me later in life."
"There were a few details about the process that made me a bit uneasy, like the back door of the clinic I had to use to make sure I kept my identity a secret, and all the legal provisions ensuring that I wouldn’t try to kidnap my genetic material... I gained a new respect for motherhood, and for my own mother, who had been upset at the thought of never getting to know her sort-of-grandchildren".
After being accepted by an agency, it took about 4 months for a recipient to choose me, and all the legal stuff was sorted. When I was given the green light, I had to stop having vaginal sex with my boyfriend. Then I had to go to the lab for a workup on my blood and some scans. I was also sent to a psychologist for a mental assessment. Then they started me on birth control to synchronize my cycle with the intended birth mother. After about 3 weeks I started giving myself daily injections in the belly, it was a drug to lower my hormones to a baseline. Once or twice a week I also had to go into the clinic for visits to check my blood. Around this time, my hormones went crazy, my moods were up and down and I was having hot flashes like a woman in menopause! About a week later, I started giving myself a second injection (so two shots a day). This second one was painful and made my skin itch. At the end of the week I was really bloated and my ovaries were sore to touch. I was told to stop the daily shots, and given two special injections which I was to inject precisely 36 hours before my retrieval procedure.
36 hours later I was taken to the clinic, put in a hospital gown, was given a drip and drugs that knocked me out. I woke up 30 minutes later and the procedure was over. I was fully recovered in 2 days.
Overall I'm happy with the process, and made $5,500.
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