Human egg donation is a medical procedure which provides compensation to women who are willing to become donors. It is a process that has two specific phases. In the first phase, women are given a series of hormonal medication that causes their ovaries to become hyper-stimulated. During the regular ovulation cycle, multiple mature eggs are then developed.
In the second phase of the egg donation process, a transvaginal ultrasound aspiration is used to remove the mature eggs that are being donated.
In total, the average woman spends about 60 hours going through testing, screening, and medical appointments. Compensation levels may be as high as $10,000, depending upon personal circumstances.
Here are the pros and cons of egg donation that are worth considering before going through with the process.
List of the Pros of Egg Donation
1. Women receive a free health screening as part of the egg donation process.
Instead of paying for an annual physical, the egg donation process provides a complete health screening for free to women who get involved. The screening process includes testing for common sexually transmitted diseases, along with Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Free testing is available for common genetic disorders as well, especially for women in certain ethnic demographics.
2. It helps families be able to have their own child.
Many couples want to have children one day. Unfortunately, some couples struggle to conceive a child of their own. The egg donation process allows these couples to have a child, through advanced reproductive methods, which brings them much satisfaction in life. Families dealing with infertility issues encounter the same levels of stress as families who are dealing with a severe cancer diagnosis.
3. Most women can participate in an egg donation program.
Egg donation age requirements are between the ages of 21-31 for most programs. Some programs restrict the upper age limit to 29. Women must have a BMI calculated at 29 or below, but no lower than 19. They most have regular monthly menstrual periods and not be using contraceptive implants or receive certain birth control injections. Smoking, nicotine use, and drug use are exclusions.
4. Some women can receive extra cash for their donations.
Women who have already cycled regularly and have proven to have very viable eggs may receive extra levels of compensation for future donations. Some donors have been known to receive as much as $100,000 for their eggs. Even women with a proven record of viable eggs above the age of 31 can still donate. ABC News reported in 2015 on the story of Wendy Gerrish, 33, who received a $20,000 donation for her 7th egg donation. At the time of the report, her eggs had resulted in 10 biological children.
5. It allows older women to still become mothers.
Many women in the United States and Europe are delaying motherhood well into their 40s. At that stage in their life, they may no longer have the ability to bear a biological child of their own. The egg donation process allows these older women to still become a mother at a time they feel is right for them.
6. The actual medical procedure is very short.
The egg donation surgical procedure is very short, taking just 15-20 minutes for most women. Most physicians recommend a day of rest during this outpatient procedure. Many women can return to work the next day. Even the appointments are kept as short as possible and structured around the unique schedule of the donor. Appointments can be scheduled for the morning, the evening, or even the weekend if that works better.
List of the Cons of Egg Donation
1. Complications are possible with this procedure.
Although complications are considered rare for egg donation procedures, they are still possible. This may include abdominal pain, swollen ovaries, blood clotting, bleeding issues, and infection after the egg retrieval process is completed. Women have also reported that they retain more fluid until their next menstrual period when going through the egg donation process.
2. It can be a procedure filled with psychological difficulty.
The eggs may be donated, but there is still the possibility, at all times, that one of them may eventually become a child. Women facing the thought of contributing to the birth of a child, without being involved in the child’s life in some way, can be bothersome. What if the child born is abused? What if they are neglected? What if they don’t have a happy life? Many of these questions remain unanswered for many women.
3. The fertility drugs involved can cause a pregnancy of multiples.
It is not uncommon for women who are sexually active and donating their eggs to become pregnant with multiples during or after the procedure. During the egg donation process, the physician or clinic involved may not be able to retrieve all the eggs that are created. The eggs may also be created earlier than normal, which can result in a multiples pregnancy before the donation process can be completed.
4. Over-stimulation of the ovaries can become permanent.
The fertility medication given to egg donors is intended to create a temporary over-stimulation of the ovaries. This produces more mature eggs that are viable for the donation process. Some women who donate eggs, however, have found that their ovarian hyper-stimulation becomes permanent. That means the discomfort and pain from swollen ovaries and other complications become part of the monthly menstrual cycle.
5. Many women do not know who receives their eggs.
It is possible to make a directed egg donation. This allows women who become donors to have a limited involvement in the life of a child that is born through this process. For a directed donation to occur, the recipients must agree to the condition before the egg donation process takes place. If a woman has friends who are struggling with infertility, this may be an option. In most instances, women are not permitted to know who receives their eggs.
6. It may still lead to eggs that have genetic defects.
Even with advanced screening and testing, the over-stimulation of the ovaries can produce eggs that have spontaneous mutations within their genetics. Certain disorders can also appear if women do not have an accurate history of their family’s genetic profile. Some women may provide false information to receive the financial compensation for the donation. Numerous safeguards are in place to remove eggs that are potential defective from the process, but it is not a 100% successful process.
The pros and cons of egg donation offer infertile couples hope that they can one day have a child they can call their own. It offers women the chance to be compensated for a donation without a major disruption in their life. At the same time, there are certain risks that everyone must take within this process, with no guarantee of success.