Maybe you're donating eggs to a sibling, cousin, or friend so they can have a child. Maybe you're donating eggs to a couple you met through an egg donation agency, or maybe you're donating your eggs to an egg bank.
Here's what you need to know about being an egg donor.
First, to who are you donating your eggs?
The first question: to whom are you donating your eggs? If you have a couple or individual to whom you have agreed to donate eggs you can skip to the next section. If you are interested in donating your eggs and deciding how, continue reading.
(1) You may choose to work with an egg donation agency that will match you with a couple or individual who is in need of donor eggs in order to grow their family. If you go this route you can make decisions regarding criteria for the recipients of your eggs and other specifics of your donation arrangement. For example, if you're looking for a couple who wants an open donation arrangement, you can request your agency only match you with couples or individuals wishing for an open arrangement.
(2) You can also choose to work with a company like Cofertility. With Cofertility's newest program, Share by Co, you can match with recipient parents after making a profile on their platform. Once you match you are able to split the number of eggs retrieved with the recipient parents: you retain half to cryopreserve for your future use and the recipients receive the other half for their family building. Since the recipient parents pay for your egg retrieval the cost to you is completely free - including 10 years of cryopreservation. This is an attractive option if you are considering freezing your eggs or want to delay decision-making regarding your family planning.
(3) The final option is to donate your eggs directly to an egg bank such as My Egg Bank.
You will need to complete medical and psychological testing.
Egg donation is a form of tissue donation, and as such, egg donation is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA requires that egg donors be medically screened prior to donating eggs. This medical screening will include a review of the egg donor's relevant medical records along with a physical examination. The goal of medically screening egg donors is to prevent the spread of communicable illnesses and infectious diseases including sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
In addition to the medical testing you will need to pass a psychological screening before donating your eggs. The purpose of this screening is to ensure you are of sound mind and electing donate eggs voluntarily.
You will need an egg donation agreement.
If you are donating your eggs to an individual or couple directly, you will require an egg donation contract addressing the specifics of your situation. This is true regardless of whether you are friends with the egg recipients or if you matched with the recipients through an agency or matching platform.
If you are donating your eggs to an egg bank, you may not enter into an egg donation agreement with the egg recipients directly. Instead, you may be required to complete egg bank consent forms disclaiming or relinquishing any parental rights to children born from your donated eggs. It is always advisable to have an attorney review consent forms with you to ensure your rights are protected.
For more information abort egg donation contracts see: Egg Donation Agreements Explained.
What is the Donation Process?
Once you have completed your medical and psychological screenings, which can take up to six weeks, the donation process itself takes approximately two weeks. Leading up to the egg retrieval you will inject yourself with hormones to stimulate your ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible without causing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome.
In a natural cycle, usually one or two eggs mature and release from the follicle during ovulation. During any egg retrieval cycle the reproductive endocrinologist hopes to get several mature eggs for future use.
While you are administering the injectable medications in anticipation of egg retrieval, your doctor will monitor your health with blood draws and ultrasounds. The goal is to monitor your growing follicles, measure your eggs as they develop, and gauge how your body is responding to the fertility medications. Based on these results, your doctor will direct you when to administer yourself with one final injection, referred to as a "trigger" shot, to prepare the eggs for retrieval.
The egg retrieval itself is completed under IV sedation and takes approximately 20-30 minutes. The eggs are retrieved from your ovaries through transvaginal ovarian aspiration in which a small ultrasound probe with a tiny suction needle attached is inserted into the vagina in order to remove each mature egg.
You may be sore post retrieval, and you should rest the remainder of the day in addition to following any instructions from your doctor. Many doctors encourage a return to your normal routine with restricted activity for approximately one week, but this varies for each individual. Always listen to your doctor's medical advice.
How can I get started?
If you want to be an egg donor you will first need to match with recipient parents. Choose a matching platform, agency, fertility clinic, or egg bank that best suits you. Here are some recommended programs and providers to start your research:
Always seek legal advice from an assisted reproduction attorney before donating eggs.
In the context of an egg donation arrangement, the recipient parents are responsible for the egg donor's legal fees. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by consulting with an assisted reproduction attorney about your rights and responsibilities in an egg donation agreement. Even if your clinic or matching program insists you do not need legal counsel, skipping this step can have lifelong consequences.
Janene Oleaga represents both egg donors and parents through egg donation.
If you are in need of an egg donor, you can schedule a free consultation regardless of where you are in the process.
If you are interested in becoming an egg donor you should reach out for legal guidance at the outset of your egg donation journey.