Common Misconceptions about being an Egg Donor
#1. The only women who need the help of an egg donor are older.
Untrue. Although women can “age out” out of prime fertility years, many couples of all ages have infertility problems or other reproductive disorders that can motivate them to need a donated egg. One example is premature ovarian failure (POF), which occurs when a woman’s ovaries cease functioning properly before 40 years of age. There are treatments, but if unsuccessful, egg donation is an option. In addition, same-sex couples need the help of an egg donor and a surrogate to have children.
#2. If you are an egg donor, you can’t have children of your own.
Also false. Women are born with a specific number of eggs and lose them gradually as they age. Nonetheless, women can donate eggs without risk to their own chances of having a baby.
#3. It hurts to donate eggs.
The procedure is performed by a physician. Egg donors are lightly sedated using an IV. The procedure itself lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. Donors are monitored by the clinic staff for an hour or two after the procedure. You are sent home and can typically return to work or school the next day. Most women do not report that their egg donation process was painful.
#4. Egg donors are only doing it because they’re being paid.
Although egg donors do receive compensation, companies that perform surrogacy procedures screen both donors and surrogates carefully. The most successful and happiest egg donors are ones who have altruistic motives such as the desire to help people who can’t have children of their own. A study by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s Task Force on Cross-border Reproductive Care and European IVF Monitoring Consortium found five major categories of egg donor motives: pure altruism (46%), altruism and reimbursement (32%), purely financial (10%), altruism and own treatment (5%), and treatment alone (<2%).
#5. Women can donate eggs as many times as they want.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has guidelines that only allow donors to complete 6 retrieval cycles. Some clinics may have further restrictions, including the amount of time between donations.
#6. The medications used for egg donors make you sick.
Usually there are very few side effects. Egg donors receive follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) to make eggs mature faster. Some donors may get headaches, a mild upset stomach, symptoms like a cold and premenstrual-like symptoms, and some donors have no side effects. A worst-case scenario, which is extremely rare now, is Ovarian Hyperstimulation.
#7. Anybody can be an egg donor.
No. Fertility and surrogacy clinics follow specific guidelines and standards in order to ensure good quality eggs. Reputable agencies have very strict guidelines that include:
- Must be 21-30 years old (may vary by agency)
- BMI lower than 26
- No history of inherited cancers in the family
- No serious heart disease or heart attacks under the age of 55
- No history of Sexually Transmitted Disease
- No history of illegal drug use
- No psychiatric hospitalizations
- U.S. citizen
- High school diploma (college degree preferred)