My friends know me as a fun-loving mother of two, caring for my rowdy little boys as they navigate the big world of preschool and playdates and learn what it means to be a part of my busy, chatty Atlanta family — we’ve got five aunts and uncles and nine different cousins within a 15-mile radius, as well as both sets of grands!
Whenever the holidays come around, I always say a prayer for a few more little children, in addition to my own boys and all of their cousins and friends. See, what most people don’t know about me is that I’ve also given the gift of life to at least two other couples; before I gave birth to my little ones, I donated my eggs to help other families get their start.
How egg donation works
Egg donation is a little more complicated than sperm donation; you need to inject yourself with hormones to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple eggs at once, and a doctor then “harvests” the eggs by drawing them out of your abdomen with a needle. However, there is only mild discomfort involved, and for me it was more than worth it to have the opportunity to help other couples start their families.
Egg donation also takes a significant time commitment; it requires at least one full menstrual cycle to complete the egg donation and extraction process, and sometimes takes longer if you are trying to match your menstrual cycle to the cycle of the woman who is going to receive your egg. (When the egg donor and the egg recipient match cycles, the egg can be transferred immediately from the donor to the recipient, meaning that there is a higher chance that the egg will result in a happy pregnancy.)
If you want to learn more about the technical specifics of the egg donation process, read this Discovery Health article. It explains exactly how everything works, and gives you a much more scientific overview of how egg donation happens.
Who can be an egg donor?
As most women know, it is much easier to create a viable embryo if you are younger. Because of this, the majority of egg donation candidates are women under the age of 31. After age 31, it is certainly still possible to get pregnant — I managed to do it twice! — but there is a slightly higher risk of not having enough “good eggs” left to complete a successful egg donation procedure.
When egg donation organizations first got started a decade ago, there was huge demand for a specific type of woman: tall, blonde, Harvard graduate, good at sports, the whole bit. Some egg donation companies went so far as to specifically seek out women with high SAT scores! Now that egg donation is more mainstream, egg donors come from all walks of life, and are short, tall, and everything in between. The primary requirement to become an egg donor is to be the type of person willing to give the gift of life from your own body.
Do egg donors get paid?
This is one of the more controversial aspects of egg donation. Yes, egg donors do get paid, and often receive thousands of dollars for their eggs. However, an egg donation is exactly that: a donation. It is illegal to buy and sell body parts, including eggs, so you need to think of your egg donation as a voluntary gift of life for which you may receive compensation for your time.
The rules for egg donation and compensation differ in each state. I know how I could go about participating in egg donation, it’s likely that your state will have slightly different rules and requirements.
Is egg donation anonymous?
Yes, egg donation is 100% anonymous. The donor and recipient never know each other’s identities. They do not even see your photo, although they do know your general characteristics like eye color and hair color. Otherwise, egg donation all happens through a closed-door process; I know that I made two separate egg donations, but I do not know who received those eggs or where those families are today.
What else do you need to know about egg donation?
Egg donation is an amazing process. It will put you in touch with the miracle of your own body and what it can create.
Egg donation is also emotional. You receive a huge hormone rush, which causes associated mood swings and all of that good stuff. Be prepared, so you aren’t surprised.
Most of all, egg donation is rewarding. If you’re thinking about a way for you to give back this holiday season, think about giving the gift of life, and how happy that new set of parents will be when their baby is born.