In the US, 12-13 couples out of 100 are having trouble conceiving a child. Luckily, if you’re eligible, you can help by donating your eggs. Donating eggs is a highly charitable action that can allow women who are unable or not wanting to get pregnant with their own eggs a chance to conceive. Therefore, donating can be beneficial to you, as being selfless is a great way to effect yourself psychologically in a positive way.
Not only is it an honorable thing to do, but you can also earn thousands of dollars by doing it. However, keep in mind donating is not for everybody, as it puts a decent amount of physical and mental stress on a woman.
You will also need to undergo an application and screening process to determine if you’re eligible to donate. For this reason, don’t expect to donate your eggs immediately.
What Are Eggs?
The human egg cell is the largest cell in the body, visible without a microscope and huge in comparison to other cells. An egg, also known as the ovum or oocyte, is the female gamete.
As a fetus, a female has 6 to 7 million eggs in her body. By the time she is born, the number has been reduced to about 1,000,000. By the time the female reaches puberty, she has around 300,000, 300-400 of which will be ovulated throughout her lifetime.
Ovulation is when an egg is released during a woman's menstruation cycle. The egg is sent out by the ovarian follicle, which is part of the ovary. When the egg is dispensed, it will move down her fallopian tube. If sperm enters her body and meets the egg, it will be fertilized.
Some women happen to release two eggs in a cycle. This can lead to fraternal twins. Identical twins occur if one egg splits in two.
The process of ovulation is monitored and regulated by one part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus communicates with the woman's pituitary gland and anterior lobe. Then, various hormones are produced.
During ovulation, a woman has the highest chance of becoming pregnant, as she is most fertile during this time.
Ovulation has various phases.
First, the periovulatory phase occurs. A sheet of cells that surround the egg become mucus-like, expanding, and the uterus lining thickens.
Next is the ovulatory phase, in which enzymes are released, forming a hole (stigma). This hole is used to transport the ovum and the cells surrounding it. This is the 1-2 day period in which a female is the most fertile.
The postovulatory phase is when, if the egg is fertilized, hormones are secreted, and the fertilized ovum is moved to the womb. If no egg is fertilized, the hormone production ends, and the egg dissolves and the fertility span comes to an end. After about half a day to a full day, the egg cell is dead and the woman can't become pregnant again until the following cycle. Then, the uterus lining will break down and be excreted. When this happens, this is your period or menstruation.
What Are Donated Eggs Used For?
Donated eggs can make the difference between whether a woman will or will not be able to have kids. This is because many women with eggs of diminishing quality look to donors to help them conceive.
Women may use donated eggs for the following reasons:
- Early menopause: the ending of ovulation for women can occur super early. A woman can go into premature menopause as early as their 20s
- Premature ovarian failure or POF: it’s possible for women to get pregnant after menopause using donor eggs. It may cause complications with pregnancy, but it’s the only way for them to conceive
- Deteriorated egg quality: a woman's eggs can get to a state of quality so poor, the chances of pregnancy from in-vitro fertilization are minuscule
- History of genetic disease: many women/couples want to avoid the chance of any disorder being passed on to their offspring, potentially condemning them to a life with more difficulty
- No response from ovaries when stimulated
- Hormone imbalances
- 40+ years old: after the age of 35, pregnancy becomes risky
- While adoption is an option, many women want to have the maternal bond associated with carrying their child for nine months and giving birth.
What Are The Requirements For Donating Eggs?
There are various requirements for becoming an egg donor.
You generally need to be at least 21-28 years old. It’s preferred you’re at least 25 and already graduated from college, as at this stage in your life, you’re more mature and able to properly consider and make this decision.
You also need to be in decent shape physically and mentally. Good physical shape is determined partially by your BMI, which must be below 24-28, depending on the center. Although BMI isn't the sole determinant of good health, your BMI is important because it can determine how easy it is to extract your eggs and react to the drugs necessary.
You also can't have any disorders or abnormalities in the reproductive system and must have regular periods. There are multiple physical screenings you will need to go through.
For example, your blood work will be examined, and you will undergo an ultrasound. The ultrasound will reveal how many eggs you have in your body. It can also predict the chances of your eggs being successfully fertilized and leading to live birth.
You will have to go through medical and psychological testing. Doctors need to ensure you’re mentally stable enough to commit to the extensive donation process. You also need to be able to take injections medication and commit to the process long-term.
If you want to get a tattoo and plan to donate within a year, make sure it’s at a shop that uses sterile procedures. If you don't, you cannot give.
Traveling to a location where Zika has spread within six months will disqualify you as well, as can STIs in your history. STIs in your past that they are screening for are usually:
- Active gonorrhea
Since HPV is so common, they don’t discriminate against potential donors who had this in the past. You also might be able to donate with herpes, as having it transferring through your eggs is not a concern.
However, due to FDA regulations, having chlamydia or gonorrhea disqualifies you. Syphilis and Hepatitis B or C also exclude you, as those infections can be transmitted through eggs.
Some clinics are also intrigued by what your motivation is. Of course, receiving compensation might be a significant factor in why you decide to donate. However, many donation centers are looking for donors who are doing it for solely altruistic motives. Not only because they want women who are not just looking to make quick cash, but because they want to avoid the chances of you regretting it in the future.
The amount of women interested in egg donation who are actually picked make up a small fraction of applicants. With every step of the screening process, 1/10 of the women are disqualified. Only about 1/100 people who apply make it to the donation process. At many places, the acceptance rate is only about 3-4%.
Many women who apply are not of age, the wrong BMI, or live too far.
Additionally, chances are you will need to receive a recipient match before you can donate. Freezing your eggs for an eventual donor is possible; however, many doctors prefer to wait until you’re matched with a specific recipient. Only about 12% of live births from donors was completed through the use of frozen eggs. Your recipient can look at information about you, such as your age and BMI, to decide if you’re a good match.
Just the screening can take up to six weeks to complete.
What Should You Bring With You To The Donation Center?
Most egg donation centers don’t require you to bring any materials, objects, etc. to donate your eggs. Usually, everything necessary will be provided for you.
Eggs Donation Process
The egg donation process is completed in two phases.
The first stage is ovarian hyperstimulation. In this stage, you receive various drugs filled with hormones. These will stimulate your ovaries, causing them to release more than 1-2 eggs in your menstrual cycle. Before beginning the drugs, you might be given birth control to even out your cycle. There are three drug classes.
First, you’re given drugs called gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist analogues. These prevent the excretion of luteinizing hormone (LH), which usually causes the eggs to develop within a woman's body, basically inducing temporary menopause. This allows the doctors to decide when they want the egg to mature and ovulate.
The drugs are generally injected various times throughout the cycle of appointments. Some clinics will use a nasal spray instead.
Some examples of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist analogues are:
The next level of drugs consists of different injections given daily. The options are drugs with either a follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) or human menopausal gonadotropin (hMG). The point of this is to stimulate the production of a variety of egg follicles. This way, doctors to extract multiple developed eggs in one sitting. FSH and hMG drugs include:
At this point, the donor cannot have any sexual intercourse to omit all risks of pregnancy. Physicians will continuously watch as the eggs mature through ultrasounds.
Finally, once the eggs have developed sufficiently, doctors will induce ovulation of the oocytes. This is done by one dose of human chorionic gonadotropin, which is injected. Your eggs will be extracted about two days after this drug administration.
The second phase is egg retrieval. The mature eggs will be extracted from your body through a transvaginal ultrasound aspiration.
How Long Does It Take To Donate Eggs?
The entire process (screening, testing, appointments, etc) will amount to around 60 hours. For this reason, consider it quite the serious time investment.
Are There Side Effects & Risks?
After donating your eggs, you can potentially experience internal bleeding after a recovery procedure. You might have an adverse reaction doctors use to make your body produce multiple eggs, such as developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. 6-7% of women who donate develop OHSS, and about half of the time it is severe. Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome is when a woman begins to produce too many eggs throughout the process. This can lead to:
- abdominal pain
- liver failure/death (in rare cases)
There has not been much research done on the effects of becoming an egg donor in the long run. But, it has been found there is potentially a slightly increased risk of developing cancer for some patients. However, this is not a set risk, as for some donors, the chance of cancer was unaffected, or even reduced.
About 20% of donors were found to develop psychological effects, both good and bad, after giving eggs.
How Often Can I Donate Eggs?
It’s recommended you only donate your eggs a maximum of six times. This is because it’s not ideal for many half-siblings to exist.
Normally, each donation needs to be about six months apart.
How Much Do Eggs Donations Pay?
By donating eggs, you can earn thousands of dollars. The amount varies based on the route you use to give eggs. The methods are:
- Through an agency
- Through a clinic with a donor service
- Directed egg donation
Agencies pay the most, with the amount varying based on specific qualities of the donor.
Factors that affect compensation are:
- local cost of living
- Money lost from wages, mileage, parking, etc.
Through a clinic, you will earn $6,000 to $8,000 with every donation. However, with an agency, you can earn up to $25,000 per donation. An agency may hunt you down, but you can seek them out as well.
Directed egg donation, through which families will advertise looking for donors who meet specific criteria, can pay well too. For example, if they’re looking for a particular IQ and you have it, they may pay $25,000-$70,000.
And again, while you can donate multiple times, it’s recommended you only reach a maximum of six times. This is not only for your health, but also to avoid too many offspring who are half-siblings. While this guideline isn't legally enforced, you should still follow it.
How Do Eggs Centers Pay You?
Usually, egg donation centers will pay you using checks.
Where Can You Donate Eggs?
1. Happy Beginnings
To donate with Happy Beginnings, you must be between the ages of 20 and 34. Once you begin medication, you receive $750. The remainder of your profit will be awarded after your eggs have been extracted.
Your full compensation will be between $3,500 and $15,000. To donate eggs, you will need to provide:
- Doctor contact information
- Family's medical history
- Personal health details
- Photo of yourself
2. Center for Human Reproduction
With the Center for Human Reproduction, you must be between the ages of 21 and 34. But, some exceptions are made for women 18+ years old and 35 years old.
Your compensation will be based on how many eggs you produce throughout the process. 10+ eggs will earn you $8,000, which is the average profit of donors.
If you’re a wanted donor by many women, you can earn up to $14,000 for donating.
3. Egg Donor
Egg Donor requires you to be 21 to 29 years old. Before you can donate, you have to fill out a pre-qualification egg donor application. You also need to sign up as a member of the company.
With each donation, you earn $6,500-$15,000. Your first donation will earn you $6,500, and it will increase each time.
The money you lose from travel is also refunded.
4. Circle Surrogacy
Circle Surrogacy requires you to be 20-29 years old. There are exceptions if you have donated in the past and are experienced. The allowed age may be extended to 31.
Your compensation will be between $9,000 and $15,000+.
To become a donor, find out if you meet the qualifications, then fill out an application.
5. Fairfax EggBank
With Fairfax Eggbank, you can donate as young as 19 and as old as 31 years old. While the company does not state what the exact compensation is, you can earn thousands of dollars from donating eggs.
Also, you can earn $500 for signing up for their Donor Egg Program. You will also be awarded $1,000 for referring a donor who ends up giving eggs.
Fairfax will refund the money for your medical care and insurance.
To begin, you need to complete an application. You will eventually be contacted.
6. Family Creations
Family Creations will grant you $7,000 after your first donation. If you donate more than once, with each repeat will come 500 extra dollars. You can give up to six times. This means, by the last available time, you can earn $9,500 for the donation.
To donate, you have to be 20-29 years old and complete an online application.
Visit the website to complete a donor application.
7. Shady Grove Fertility
Shady Grove Fertility requires you to be between the ages of 21 and 32. When you finish your profile, blood testing, and ultrasound, you will earn $50. This is awarded whether or not you’re ultimately picked to be an oocyte donor.
Once you meet with a counselor and are accepted, you get $450. If you’re not chosen, you’re given $200. When you donate, they provide you with $6,500. Your second donation will get you $7,500, and each following time will earn you $8,000.
To begin, you must apply on the site.
8. The Egg Donor Program
You must be 20-30 to donate with The Egg Donor Program.
Starting compensation is $8,000 to $10,000. It will increase each time you give eggs. You will receive cashback for your travels.
The amount you earn is affected by qualifications based on your intelligence. For example, they may look at what level of education you’ve reached and any test scores, such as the SAT and ACT. They will also look at your family history.
If interested, you need to fill out their application. If your application is approved, you will be contacted within a few days. Then, you will have to conduct an interview. It will be over the phone or in-person.
Even if you mainly want compensation, you can change a life (and give a life) by donating eggs. Giving up just a few of your oocytes can allow women to have a child or multiple children they wouldn't have been able to have otherwise.
Dealing with infertility or the possibility of passing down a genetic disorder to their child can be stressful for couples. Therefore, they will often look to young, healthy women with viable egg cells to give them the chance to conceive.
While being charitable, you can earn thousands of dollars (between $6,000 and $25,000). By donating multiple times, you can increase your fortune.
However, you need to research and fully understand potential side effects and psychological effects associated with egg donation.
Overall, however, donating eggs is a beautiful thing worth looking into.