Thinking About Donating? You’re Not Alone
Egg donation is becoming more accepted in the reproductive space, with hundreds of donated eggs each year. There are a lot of reasons why a woman would decide to donate eggs to a fertility clinic. Most donate to a friend or family member with fertility struggles. Other donors empathize with the millions of infertile women and seek to help the community. Whatever the reason, there are many questions about the requirements of becoming an egg donor, especially from first-timers.
Why do we need donors?
The goal of egg donation is to provide a hopeful couple or individual with the means to have a baby. Some women have low ovarian reserves or cannot produce healthy eggs. LGBTQ couples may also need an egg for surrogacy. A fertility clinic can create an embryo using in vitro fertilization (IVF) to implant into the hopeful mother with a donated egg.
A complex extraction process
An egg donor will provide eggs either through a donor clinic or agency. Egg donation can take 2 weeks. The donor will take hormone medication almost daily to stimulate egg production. When the eggs are ready, the doctor will extract the eggs in a simple surgical procedure. The doctor should get about 10 eggs that can create multiple healthy embryos for a hopeful couple. This, however, is just the egg development and extraction process. The screening and criteria for egg donation are intense and can take several weeks.
Your handy egg donor checklist
Egg donation is not to be taken lightly. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) equates egg donations to organ donations. There is a specific set of requirements by fertility clinics and the FDA for egg donors. From a physical health standpoint:
- Donors should be between 21-31 years of age. Some clinics cut off younger than 31.
- Donors should not be underweight or overweight, with a healthy BMI.
- Egg donors should have a healthy reproductive organ with both ovaries and healthy ovarian reserve.
- Healthy hormone levels with regular menstrual cycles are standard.
- Donors should not smoke, have a history of alcoholism or drug use.
- Donors should not be using birth control, including IUDs.
- Should not have contracted an STI within the last year.
An initial screening followed by blood and genetic tests will determine if the donor meets the criteria as part of the donor process.
Beyond the physical
Being in top physical health is just the start. Other mental, emotional, and social factors determine a suitable donor.
- Some clinics require a minimum of high school education.
- A donor must be willing to endure the physical and emotional stress of egg extraction.
- A donor must also understand the legal implications that come with the donation.
Based on these factors, only a small percentage of women qualify for egg donation. The clinic will perform detailed psychological testing to rule out any concerns.
So should you become an egg donor?
Women who pass these requirements can donate eggs within a suitable timeframe. Of course, egg donation could be either paid or voluntary. So why should women go to these lengths? Besides the potential monetary compensation, egg donation is a fantastic gesture. Donors help fill a void in a hopeful family's life. Most donors also feel a part of the family in some way, and some explain donation as being a piece of a larger puzzle. Overall, egg donation is a way to make a generational impact while helping someone else.
Checked all the boxes? Then take action
Because of the delicate process of IVF, all women aren't eligible to donate eggs. Fertility clinics want to ensure hopeful parents have the best chance possible for a baby. A healthy donated egg does just that. Women looking to donate should take the first step. Check off all the requirements, then speak to a donor clinic to start this rewarding process soon.