Egg donation isn’t for everyone. It takes a special person to go through the physical and emotional journey of being an egg donor, and there are a lot of myths around egg donation. Do they only do it for the money? Is it painful? Can anyone be an egg donor?
We asked Amber* to share her experience and answer all your questions!
Why would you choose to be an egg donor?
Amber: I heard of a friend donating to a local clinic about 5 years before I actually decided to donate. It wasn’t until several years later that I was faced with the idea that I might not be able to have children with my husband. In a specialist waiting room, I was reintroduced to egg donation. I understood donation on a completely different level. If there was someone out there who could help ME have children, wouldn’t giving that gift in return be a beautiful thing?
Do egg donors only donate for the money?
Amber: Egg donation can be an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding process, with or without compensation. Being selected as an egg donor was an incredibly emotional experience for me and other donors I’ve talked to had similar experiences. Many donors come to egg donation after seeing a loved one go through the struggle of infertility and wanting to help someone else going through the same thing. But compensation definitely helps, and I think it’s justified since these young women are committing a significant amount of time and effort to donate.
Can anyone be an egg donor?
Amber: No – there is a fairly rigorous vetting process before you can become an egg donor. You typically apply to a clinic or agency who ask you about your basic health. Your answers about your health history may disqualify you. Then you answer a more thorough questionnaire and describe yourself, your family, and your family’s health history. If the preliminary review of your profile passes the requirements set forth by ASRM, you are able to create a profile. If you match with a couple, you undergo genetic testing to ensure compatibility with the parents. Donors must also undergo ovarian reserve and hormone level testing, psychological screenings, genetic counseling, FDA screenings, and drug and nicotine tests.
Is egg donation really painful/dangerous?
Amber: Egg donation is a surgical procedure, so it should be taken seriously. I’ve seen donors who are concerned about the hormone injections, but for me they were painless. The surgical procedure to retrieve eggs took about 15 minutes, and I had some mild cramps afterward. There are potential side effects that you need to be aware of as you go through the donation process, but clinics monitor donors closely to make sure they are safe and healthy.
Were you scared of donating impacting your own fertility?
Amber: I see this question all the time, and it was a concern of mine as well when I was thinking about donating. As far as I’ve seen, there is no evidence to support claims that donating eggs will harm future fertility. Since donating, I’ve had two healthy children of my own, so it definitely wasn’t an issue for me.
Is it difficult to take time off of school or work?
Amber: For me it wasn’t, but it depends on the situation! Egg donors can choose to donate with a clinic nearby, so travel wouldn’t be needed. If you cycle with an agency, then there is a higher chance you might travel to the intended parents’ clinic, but you choose whether or not you’re willing to do a travel cycle. If you agree to match with a couple that isn’t in your area, you might travel around 7-10 days total for your screening, injection training, and then your retrieval.
Did you tell anyone? What did your family and friends think of you being an egg donor?
Amber: I told my family I was donating. My husband was very supportive. The rest of my family had questions and confusion – they didn’t really understand how egg donation works – but they were supportive of my choice. I’ve never regretted my decision to donate, and my family now is just happy that my participation brought happiness to someone else’s family.
*Amber’s name has been changed to protect her privacy.