10 Things to Consider Before You Donate Eggs

Monday, August 14, 2017

As a follow up to this great essay about her experiences donating eggs to a fertility clinic, the same guest writer has graciously written a follow up that explores more of the financial, emotional and physical ramifications of donation. It's a fascinating read; I hope you enjoy, and, once again, please be respectful of the author's privacy. Thank you!

10 Things to Consider Before You Donate Eggs to Fertility Companies or Clinics

  1. Staying : You are legally required not to find out who the intended parent(s) are. They are legally required not to try and figure out who the egg donor is. A lot of the legal paperwork asserts that I won’t lay any claim on the future children. The rules vary from state to state, as laws don’t always keep up with technology. Although I can tell others than I’m a donor, I’m not supposed to share specifics. This was my experience, but it may vary for people in different arrangements. Some people may donate to friends and family. I donated through a company that connects donors with hopeful parents from all around the country, but you can also donate at a local clinic. 
  2. My husband also had to sign the legal agreements, despite his DNA not being involved.  He is not allowed to sue or try to claim custody of any children either. Many aspects of this process require good communication and agreement with your partner! For us, spending several years as an egg donor also included delaying becoming parents. These were choices that suited us well, but it’s essential to discuss with your partner.

  1. There’s also a commitment to sexual abstinence while taking fertility drugs. If you conceive with your partner during that time, you’ve taken away the opportunity for pregnancy for the intended parents that was presented by very expensive fertility drugs. You would owe back the cost of the drugs, which will likely be many thousands of dollars. In the weeks before taking the drugs, you can have sex with a condom. Although it’s less likely for conception to happen in the early half of a woman’s cycle, it can happen. Pregnancy would break the agreement because you would be then unable to donate eggs. (Additionally, conception on these high dose fertility drugs will probably lead to a large number of fertilized eggs, and pregnancy with multiples is inherently considered high risk.)

  1. Age range and health requirements: Where I donated, the requirements are for women ages 21-29, in good health. They can be parents, or can have never given birth themselves. More detail can be found here.
  2. You get to choose some of the particulars of your commitment. I always gave the intended parent(s) permission to do what they wanted with remaining eggs or embryos, whether to freeze them for the future, donate them to someone else, or dispose of them.

  1. You are allowed to refuse an offer from the parents if you choose. Donors may choose not to donate to single people or LGBT couples. It seems harsh that I had the power to reject single people or LGBT couples. However, the intended parent(s) may be glad to avoid the chance of inherited homophobia!

  1. The family can also choose to reject a donor they have selected before signing a legal agreement. For example, I mentioned that a family member had an undesirable condition. (It was something harmless, like baldness.) This isn’t a deal breaker with the agency, but the intended parents chose not to move forward with me an a donor.

  1. What will you do with the money? Besides helping others, another reason to donate is that it also pays well. Because this is a challenging and personal process, I would not have done it for free, at least not for a stranger. I donated four times, and my fee increased each time. (Six is the maximum times you can legally donate in the US.) The fee varies depending on the organization and the part of the US you are in. Personally, I averaged $6,500 per donation. I think it can be a great way for a young woman to pay off car or student loans. I don’t recommend it for people who are in desperate financial straits. If the money is going to put groceries on the table, I think the length of the whole process would be emotionally and physically upsetting- especially if it was not completed. There are no guarantees. Also the desperate need for the money could distract from making careful decisions about why and how you are participating.

  1. Contemplate how this will influence your future. A good counselor asked me if I have my own children, what would I tell them about the donations? She had a suggestion for that inquiry. Like adoption, conflict can be prevented by telling children honestly, when they are young. A good age is when they start asking questions about how babies are made. Then they grow up always knowing and do not feel tricked later in life.  The  counselor also  suggest that I  consider how I would feel if I didn’t manage to conceive after I’d donated (That’s not a side effect of donating, but life happens.) Check your priorities. For me, I wanted to remember that donation was a gift, and not a guarantee that I’d receive a gift back.

  1. What do you want to tell others? I haven’t told many people about this. I’m not embarrassed, but I do consider it a private matter. (Also, I’m legally supposed to conceal details about intended parents, even though I only  know a little.) Some people have had weird reactions to hearing about my donation. I also feel some anxiety about telling my parents. So, I decided I would tell them whenever I tell my hypothetical future child, so they don’t have to hear it second hand. Otherwise, I tell friends when when it seems relevant or when I trust them to have a positive reaction.


  1. I'm not sure that I'd ever do this, but it's really interesting to read about what is involved.

    Reply Delete
    1. That's what I thought too. There is a lot involved!


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