At Egg Donor Stories, we have the utmost admiration and respect for women who choose to help others by donating their eggs. Becoming an egg donor is one of the most powerful and rewarding choices you can make.
Many women face infertility each year. As a matter of fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services estimates as many as one in ten women struggle with conception. Many of these women may be helped with medical interventions, but others find that they cannot conceive using their own eggs or without the help of a surrogate. Other families have various reasons for using donor eggs including same-sex couples, couples with genetic abnormalities, and those with personal reasons. For these couples, it is imperative that there be donor eggs available when they need them. Deciding to become an egg donor is a wonderful way to assist these people in their quests to become parents. So, what does this process involve?
Egg donation is not available for every woman who would like to be a donor. There is a screening process and criterion that must be met before beginning. Let’s begin with this process.
- Age: Many donor agencies stop accepting donors after age 34-36 depending on the agency. Some trisomy conditions are more likely after a certain age.
- STI history: While things like HIV and syphilis are logical, potential donors may not realize that even past treatment for chlamydia, gonorrhea, and other treatable STIs can be a factor. Most of the time, if it has been more than 12 months since infection, the donor is eligible, but this may vary by agency.
- Other family medical history: sometimes people are hesitant to use donors with family medical histories of certain conditions.
- Genetic testing: Some potential egg donors may not even know they have a genetic marker that precludes them from being able to donate. These conditions may be sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs, cystic fibrosis, and others. Since these conditions often require both parents to be carriers, a potential donor may not even know the gene runs in the family.
- Psychological screening: Screening for psychological and mental health issues may be a deterrent, especially with certain histories. Many egg recipients do not want to use their own eggs if there are family histories of things like schizophrenia. This is unfortunate for potential donors, but understandable from a potential recipient’s perspective. This process can also be mentally taxing, so donors are screened to be sure that they can endure the process.
- Current physical health: a pelvic exam and medical exam may be necessary. Just as it is mentally taxing, it can also be physically taxing. There are physical concerns that we will discuss in other articles, but the physical demands can be too much for some people to handle. These screenings should eliminate some of the concerns.
- Medication lists: some current birth control use can be a problem. Also, if the side effects of a medication could prevent healthy egg production, these potential candidates can be eliminated.
- Lifestyle Screening: Certain BMI and recreational drug usage will prevent potential donors from qualifying. Alcohol and tobacco or nicotine use can be included in recreational drug usage.
Understanding the purpose of the screening process
According to Carina Hsieh, up to 90% of potential egg donors are not even invited to do the second screening and the total number of potential donors that make it to donation is less than 5%. Their initial screening is a basic medical history like one might complete at a new patient visit for an OB/GYN. While this is just one of the applications, those for other agencies such as Johns Hopkins University, the University of California, San Francisco, and private facilities are very similar in nature. These centers may have different acceptance rates, but their screenings are similar. These screenings are done to create the best possible outcomes for intended parents.
Should I give up?
No, prospective donors are needed and the more people who get screened, the more viable egg donors will be identified. Individuals and couples seeking egg donors need to have a variety of potential donors to choose from. Also, minorities should seriously consider this as many recipient families may be looking for a donor within their own racial category, but there are fewer donors out there that meet their criteria.
Most egg banks provide some sort of compensation. Compensation will vary depending on market and agency, but many recent college graduates and aspiring artists (music, acting, and painting) will use this to supplement their income. Some programs begin as little as $3000 for donation, while others are up to as much as $14,000.
Will the intended parents be able to find me?
Any decent program will protect your identity. If your program does not provide acceptable identity protection, you should seek a new program.
Do all places regulate the laws or rules the same way?
Each state may have slightly different laws regulating the compensation or screening process, but it is very similar across the US. Likewise, Canada specifies that donors cannot be compensated for their eggs, but they may be compensated for all living and donor-related expenses during their time as a donor.
The bottom line
Essentially egg donation is a lengthy process in which a potential donor has to be thoroughly screened and examined. The potential donor can, however, be compensated for these screenings and examinations. Many donors find the act of helping potential parents very fulfilling. Do not assume that you are not a good candidate for egg donation. Take the time to begin the initial process. It is important to find a local egg bank as many of them require donors to live within a few hours of their facility. If you are a smoker, recreational drug user, or drinker, stop these things now and become a donor after stopping. You can also lose some weight if your potential bank requires a certain BMI. Egg donation can provide a family with the child they have always desired.