Misconceptions About Egg Donors

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Myths and misconceptions often cloud the egg donation process. The first step in deciding if egg donation is right for you is learning the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to egg donation. Here are some of the most common myths about egg donors.

#1. The only women who need the help of an egg donor are older.

Women of all ages can have infertility problems or other reproductive disorders that can necessities 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. 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.

Donating your eggs allows an egg that you would have otherwise shed during your monthly cycle to be fertilized and grow into a life in someone else’s uterus. Your body will still bear eggs in the months and years following your donation, and those eggs will still be able to be fertilized and grown into your own children when you’re ready.

#3. It hurts to donate eggs.

Most donors tell us the only thing they feel at all is light, menstrual like cramping. The procedure is performed by a physician and egg donors are lightly sedated using an IV. The procedure itself lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. You are sent home and can typically return to work or school the next day.

#4. Egg donors are only doing it because they’re being paid.

This is simply not the case. In fact, a recent study found than just 10% of donors report purely financial motives. Although egg donors do receive compensation, the most successful and happiest egg donors tend to be 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, or premenstrual-like symptoms. However, some donors have no side effects at all. A worst-case scenario, which is extremely rare now, is Ovarian Hyperstimulation.

#7. Anybody can be an egg donor.

Fertility and surrogacy clinics follow specific guidelines and standards in order to ensure good quality eggs. Reputable agencies have very strict guidelines that include restrictions on age, BMI, familial medical history, education, and lifestyle choices. At Growing Generations, less than 1% of applicants will become approved egg donors.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.