Sometimes, an intended parent cannot provide eggs for gestational surrogacy. The parents may both be male, or the mother may have medical or genetic complications. Under such circumstances, egg donation comes to the rescue. A donor will provide their eggs for the creation of embryos. The embryos may be created with the intended father’s sperm, or that may be donated as well.
Here are five facts that many people don’t know about egg donation:
While technological advancements have made egg banking a reality, success rates from frozen eggs remain considerably lower than a fresh egg cycle from an egg donor personally hand-selected by her intended parents. Intended parents seeking a higher degree of personalized matching, and higher success rates, are overwhelmingly opting for the projections of fresh egg cycles. Moreover, for those with lower risk tolerance and an eye towards future siblings with the same genetic profile, working one-on-one with an egg donor gives added assurance to family building success via egg donation.
Harvesting of eggs coincides closely with implantation, which means that egg donors are directly involved in the process at the same time that intended parents are present. It is possible for intended parents to run into their egg donors at the fertility clinic, and some agencies allow for intended parents to personally interview prospective egg donors. Whether this is the case or not, intended parents will have access to photographs and personal information during the selection process.
An egg donor faces about 6-8 weeks of regular hormone medication. This medication consists of a series of self-administered injections. This adjusts the egg donor’s monthly cycle to match that of the surrogate mother; it also stimulates the ovaries to prepare additional eggs for fertilization. During this time, there will be several early-morning appointments at the fertility clinic, for which the donor needs to make herself available. Your typical egg donation process involves six or seven of these appointments.
The actual donation of eggs, at the end of this process, requires something called “twilight anesthesia.” This helps to keep the patient sedated, but not unconscious, during the process. A full day of rest is required afterward, followed by a period of light activity. This lasts until the physician at the fertility clinic states that it is safe to return to a normal activity level.
ConceiveAbilities pays its egg donors between $5,000 and $10,000 per donation, which fits neatly into an industry average of $8,000 per donation. It also corresponds to ASRM guidelines recommending a maximum compensation of $10,000. The exact amount is dependent upon a variety of factors such as donor location, past experience with egg donation (did things go smoothly?) and demand for the donor’s ethnicity.
While this reflects the average quite neatly, it doesn’t nearly cover the whole of what’s out there. Some agencies offer “premium donors,” such as women with high IQs, good health, and Ivy League educations. Despite the arguable benefits of availing oneself of these donors, they can command prices of $30,000 or more per donation.
The ideal age for egg donation for many agencies falls within the range of 19 years of age to somewhere in their late twenties. A few agencies stretch that into the early thirties, while some—including ConceiveAbilities—don’t accept donors younger than 21. A woman within this age range offers the ideal physiology to successfully donate eggs—and “bounce back” with a quick recovery from the procedure. There is also a reduced risk of birth defects when using a young donor.
If you’re considering becoming an egg donor, or know someone who is, it might be worthwhile to read more about the subject. It never hurts to be adequately prepared before making such a major life decision. Stanford University offers this detailed description of the egg donation process, and Fertility Nation features an article on seven health risks associated with egg donation. One donor shares her personal experience, including painful but ultimately temporary short-term discomfort, in a blog about egg donation; she states that she was overall “happy to have donated.”
Egg Donation is a selfless act, but also a major personal decision. It is important to go into this process with one’s eyes open. Thousands of women successfully donate their eggs every year, with some women having donated six or more times during a surprisingly short time period. Egg donors are happy to provide so vital a service in helping intended parents to start the families they’ve always dreamed of having.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.