When You Become an Egg Donor You Become a Fertility Super Hero
If you’re a young woman, you’ve probably seen ads with titles like “Become an Egg Donor,” or “Find Out How to Become an Egg Donor” around your school or in your social media. Now, you’re seeing these ads because they are aimed at women your age, they do not show up in mailings from AARP. Have you ever thought about really exploring egg donation and why someone would want to do it? Of course, in the end every woman has her own reasons, but here are some things to think about from women who have donated eggs.
What are the requirements to become an egg donor? The following is a standard list of donor requirements, this can vary from agency to agency with some standard variations being noted:
- Between 21-29 years of age (some agencies accept women who are younger or older by 2–3 years)
- Have regular monthly periods.
- No reproductive disorders or abnormalities.
- Physically and emotionally healthy, no psychiatric hospitalizations.
- BMI under 29 (if unsure of your BMI, there are free online calculators that will tell you instantly).
- Non-Nicotine user, non-smoker, non-drug-user.
- Not currently on Depo-Provera.
- Willing to undergo a medical and a psychological evaluation.
- Willing and able to take injectable medication.
- Willing to commit to the process for a minimum amount of time determined by the agency, this is especially important if you will be doing “on demand” donation where you don’t donate until a family selects you as their donor. If you’re donating eggs to be preserved in an egg bank the amount of time you commit to the process will be a lot less.
- Excited about the process of helping to build a family.
Why would someone become an egg donor? The reasons vary from woman to woman, of course, but there are some common themes that pop up:
- They know someone who has had infertility issues and saw first-hand the pain and suffering it can cause. For some women, this might be their own parents or siblings. Wanting to help some in pain, especially someone you know and love, is built into people. One way to help people with certain infertility issues is by becoming an egg donor since a lot of fertility problems stem from poor egg quality or no viable eggs being available.
- They have a generous spirit and love the idea of helping other people. These women can empathize with the pain that infertile women are going through and want to help them. Since a lot of fertility problems can be traced back to poor egg quality or lack of viable eggs, becoming an egg donor can help ease the pain by providing eggs they can use to have children of their own. It’s also personally empowering to know there is something you can do to help another and you’re doing it. This feeling helps create a positive self-image while also helping the woman feel empowered.
- They want to help LGBT people, especially gay men, become parents. In the last couple of years there have been quite a few famous gay men building families by utilizing the services of an egg donor and a gestational surrogate. Neil Patrick Harris, Ricky Martin and Elton John are just three examples of happy “gay dads.” Most people have LGBT people in their lives that they love and can understand their desire for parenthood, donating eggs is one way to help them achieve the dream of parenthood.
Why are some of the benefits of becoming an egg donor? There are a number of benefits, here are just a few that women who have completed an egg donation mention:
- You get a complete fertility work-up so when you’re ready to start your own family you will have some insight into your fertility potential. Most young women don’t think that much about their fertility, unless they’ve had problems they automatically assume they’ll be fertile when it’s time to start a family. With the emphasis this work-up places on the ovaries, it can give women an insight into what their ovarian reserve looks like. If the woman plans on delaying childbearing for a number of years, this information will come in handy when she’s deciding whether she should be freezing some of her eggs.
- There is financial compensation unless the woman is donating eggs to someone she knows. The compensation is for pain, suffering, and loss of time, not to purchase the eggs. Women are paid per cycle, not per egg, so if there are only three usable eggs from a retrieval cycle that woman gets paid the same amount as the woman who’s retrieval cycle yielded 15 viable eggs. Compensation varies by fertility center, type of egg donation (egg bank donation or on demand donation), characteristics of the donor (some ethnicities bring higher prices as do advanced degrees), and experience as an egg donor (experienced donors are a known quantity and are paid more). Most egg donor compensation starts at around $8,000 and goes up from there, $10,000 to $15,000 is not unusual at all.
- The satisfaction that comes from knowing you helped someone realize a lifelong dream, the dream of a family of their own. Some women donate to a friend or relative so they can see the dream in person, they can literally watch the dream grow in front of their eyes. Most egg donations, however, are anonymous so the donor never actually sees the children her eggs helped create. Oftentimes the agency will inform the egg donor when one of her intended parents becomes pregnant and/or gives birth. The agencies don’t pass on personal identifying information but do let the donors know that they made a huge difference in the life of a family and that makes them feel really good.
What should I look for in an egg donation agency? There are many different things to look for in an egg donation agency or program, some women rank various factors higher than others. Before making any decisions about an agency, you should talk not only to other young women who have been egg donors for that agency in the past but also the facilitator you will be working directly with to see how you get along. Some areas most women explore when searching for an egg donation agency are:
- Is this agency looking for someone like me? Some agencies specialize in certain ethnicities or want the egg donors to have obtained college degrees. If the agency has a narrow focus or specialty, and you don’t fit the profile, the chances of a family selecting you to be their egg donor go way down.
- Does the facilitator I would be working with instill confidence that she will be there for me when I need her? If you’re the type of person who needs a lot of reassurance, and most people need quite a bit if they’re first time egg donors, you need a facilitator who is very proactive and will get back to you whenever you need her. This is a new area in your life, there’s nothing wrong with needing reassurance, you just need to make sure the facilitator you work with will be able to offer it. You need to feel comfortable enough with the facilitator to ask her when you need something, even if it’s only reassurance that what you’re feeling is perfectly normal.
- What is the average wait time for an egg donor like me to be selected by a family? This will depend on the emphasis of the agency and how well you fit the profile. If the agency advertises that they have egg donors with advanced degrees, and you have an AA from a community college, you might be waiting a while for the call. The larger the agency, the more families there will be to view your profile, so unless you fit the specific criteria that an agency is looking for you might have better luck with a larger agency.
There are a lot of benefits to becoming an egg donor, one of the major benefits is the feeling of empowerment because you are able to use your fertility super powers for good by helping create a family. Of course, the compensation is always nice but most egg donors rate the satisfaction they receive for helping someone else achieve the dream of family above anything else.