5 Things You Need to Know about Egg Donation

In 2005 there were nearly 39,000 live births resulting from assisted reproductive technology in the United States. Egg donation plays an integral part of this process, helping many couples to finally realize their dream of having a child.

Although egg donation increases yearly, many of us are probably more familiar with the process of sperm donation. Here, we answer some of the most common questions about egg donation.

How does the egg donation process work?

There are two phases of the process: hyper-stimulation and egg retrieval. During the first phase donors take hormonal drugs so that their ovaries can produce several mature eggs during their menstrual cycle.

During egg retrieval the eggs are removed from the donor's ovaries through a surgery called transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. Once the eggs are fertilized with sperm the resulting embryos (usually only two) are transplanted into the uterus of the prospective mother usually two to three days after retrieval.

Who can benefit from egg donation?

According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), women in different situations can take advantage of egg donation, including those who suffer from ovarian failure, usually as a result of premature menopause due to cancer treatment or the removal of their ovaries.

Other possible candidates include older women, women who have tried IVF (in vitro fertilization) unsuccessfully, and women who carry a specific gene for a disease and who do not want their child to inherit the gene.

Who can be an egg donor?

Many IVF clinics have their own anonymous donors. However, you can also use the egg of someone you know. Women who donate their eggs should be between ages 21 and 34, healthy and fit, well-educated, and emotionally mature enough to assist a couple to have a child. They also need to complete in-depth questionnaires about their medical and sexual history and mental health.

In some cases, women undergoing IVF who have produced multiple eggs will donate their eggs to help others battling infertility. If you decide to advertise for someone to donate their eggs, the ASRM recommends seeking legal counsel first.

Are egg donors tested?

Yes. They undergo several medical tests to check for the number of eggs they could produce, blood type, sexually transmitted diseases, and drug and alcohol use, and smoking. Genetic screening is done on the basis of ethnicity, states the ASRM, for instance, African or Asian donors may be screened for sickle cell trait. Donors are also psychologically assessed.

Is egg donation risky?

In some cases the fertility drugs may cause egg donors to experience nausea, diarrhea, abdominal bloating, and they may need hospitalization. It's also possible for an infection or bleeding to result from the egg retrieval, and in some rare cases this may cause scarring and interfere with the donor's ability to become pregnant in the future.

How much are egg donors paid?

According to the ASRM guidelines, donors can be paid up to $5,000. However, some agencies pay $10,000 or more for egg donation, which the ASRM indicates is inappropriate.

How are parenting rights handled?

In general, if you are the egg recipient and give birth to the child resulting from the donor egg, you and your partner (if there's one) are considered the parents of the child. However, the process of assistive reproduction - whether it's egg or sperm donation, or surrogacy - is a complex legal process.

You should seek legal counsel from the outset to make sure that your rights are protected. The egg donor will need to relinquish parental rights to the child. In some cases, it may be necessary to go through an adoption process before the baby is born. Also, there is legal precedence that allows the intended parents to have their names on the birth certificate.

Your lawyer will be a significant partner when you're going through egg donation and assisted reproduction. Look for one with extensive experience in this field.

How do I find an egg donor program?

The ASRM has an Egg Donor Agencies List you may find useful. However, keep in mind that there's no universal rule about how these agencies match egg donors to recipients, so do your due diligence.

Find out how long the agency has been in operation, how many matches they've made and the criteria used. Also, ask about their confidentiality and legal policies.




American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control, Infertility Treatment at Mayo Clinic