Become an Egg Donor
Donating your eggs to infertile couples can get you tens of thousands of dollars—but be warned, it's not an easy job. Donors need to dose themselves daily with high levels of fertility drugs to stimulate egg production, then submit to invasive extraction procedures. It's also not an easy job to get, since prospective parents demand healthy, attractive donors of a specific race, often with added requirements like high grades or artistic skills.
If you're still interested, read on...
Who is eligible to become an egg donor?
Any healthy woman aged 18 or older. Most brokers and clinics look for women in their 20's and early 30's, and some put prospective donors through psychological tests. Prospective parents add stipulations of their own, like a particular height, weight, race, level of attractiveness, or level of academic achievement.
What's involved in becoming an egg donor?
The woman starts the process by either answering an ad placed by the prospective parents, or going to an egg donation clinic or agency to donate anonymously. She undergoes a rigorous physical and psychological examination and gives a family medical history. If she is accepted, she signs legal documents signing away her parental rights to the donated eggs and establishing how much she will be paid.
Then the doctors start her on a cycle of fertility drugs to drastically increase the number of eggs her body produces in a cycle. These drugs are injected daily by the woman or someone she knows—she doesn't go to the clinic daily to have them do it for her. She does go to the clinic for regular blood tests and other procedures designed to monitor how the eggs are developing. The fertility drugs have side effects including drastic mood swings, weight gain, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and other delightful symptoms, which the clinic may be able to reduce. During this time, the woman needs to be scrupulous about using birth control.
When the woman ovulates, she goes to the clinic to have the eggs extracted by needle. The procedure is minimally invasive, but it is minor surgery, with all the possible complications that implies.
The entire process takes about a month. The procedure is more complex than explained here, so read up on it in detail and make sure you understand everything that will be required of you.
How much does egg donation pay?
Several thousand dollars per cycle, often as much as $10,000. Much higher payments have been recorded, and donors with hard-to-find qualities can often get more.
What are the risks?
- Physical side effects of the fertility drugs
- Psychological complications
- Unintended pregnancy if birth control fails while the woman is on fertility drugs
- Dealing with scammers and unstable prospective parents
- Potentially dealing with biological children in the future—the trend in the United States and the United Kingdom is toward giving children contact information for their biological parents, even when their parents were anonymous donors
How do I find egg donation clinics or prospective parents?
There are hundreds of fertility clinics that run egg donation programs. Google for “egg donor program” or “egg donation clinic.” When you've chosen a clinic, do your research carefully! Scams and quacks are a reality in any big-money business, and there's a great deal of money in fertility centers indeed.
If you want to donate to a couple, newspaper classifieds sections and online forums are full of ads from prospective parents looking for donors. Again, do your research about the couple, and go with your gut feelings. If you want more legal help and assurance than flying solo would give you, egg donor agencies can introduce you to prospective parents. Research the agency, too! Research, research, research. It's the best protection you have in the complicated world of egg donation.