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Is Donating Eggs for Cash Ok?

As I promised yesterday here’s a way for the ladies to make money, donating their eggs. Egg donation is in high demand with an estimated 10 million woman looking for fertility help as a last resort to adoption. Clinics will pay anywhere from $4000 up to an amazing $100,000 to an egg donor for a donated egg. While some might think that donating eggs is similar to sperm donation, the truth is that there are actually few similarities.

First off, the requirements for egg donors are similar and yet different from those for sperm donors. The basic health requirements are the same as is the requirement to be STD free. That’s where the similarity ends though. Egg donors typically do not need any special physical characteristics as do their male counterparts (although some things related to high intelligence and other factors can mean higher pay). Egg donors must be between the ages of 21 and 29 meaning there is a much smaller window of opportunity for women egg donors.

While the medical and psychological background of the women is taken into account, the requirements are not nearly as stringent as those for men donors. Additionally, even when a woman is chosen as a suitable egg donor there is no guarantee that she will ever make any money.

How Egg Donation Works

The first step for a woman looking to donate her eggs is to find a suitable fertility clinic near where she lives. There is a comprehensive listing to be found here. Once a fertility clinic is located the woman applies and undergoes a rigorous battery of medical and psychological questionnaires and tests. The woman must be free of STD’s and genetic abnormalities, must meet the FDA guidelines for tissue donation (no tattoos, body piercings or residence in certain foreign countries) and must be in good physical health.

If the woman passes this screening she is then listed in a registry of egg donors. This registry is used by prospective egg recipients to choose an appropriate donor. There is no guarantee that the woman will ever be chosen to donate and even if she is typical waits can last months or even years.

Because the economic problems since 2007 have seen a surge in potential donors it is becoming more difficult to be chosen as a suitable egg donor since the pool of prospective donors has ballooned. Prospective recipients are becoming more and more selective about who they get their eggs from. One factor that does improve your chances of being selective is if you’ve donated previously and that donation has resulted in a pregnancy.

Once You Are Chosen As An Egg Donor

If and when you are chosen you will be brought into the fertility clinic to begin a course of hormone treatments meant to synchronize your menstrual cycle with that of the recipient. This regimen begins with a 1-2 week cycle of gonadotropin releasing hormone which causes your pituitary to halt the production of eggs.

Once production is halted and the cycles are synchronized an injection of follicle-stimulating hormone is given to stimulate the egg producing follicles to produce several eggs. Then a final injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is given to mature the eggs.

The final maturation of the eggs typically takes 36 hours at which time a hollow needle is inserted through the vaginal wall to harvest the eggs from each follicle.

Other requirements are that the donor remain drug and alcohol free during the hormone treatment period. Some clinics will even require this during the period of time the donor is on the waiting list. It is also required that the donor practice safe sex at all times and abstain from sex during the hormone treatment period. This is actually to protect the donor from potentially getting pregnant with multiple babies (remember the fertility drugs will produce numerous eggs).

Dangers of Becoming an Egg Donor

While there are no conclusive studies, several potential risk factors have been identified. First is the aforementioned potential for a multiple birth pregnancy if the donor engages in sex during the fertility treatment period. The primary risks are procedure related and ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Both can cause infection as well as abdominal pain and swelling. And while there is nothing conclusive there is a suggestion that fertility treatments may increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Aside from the physical risks there are also moral and ethical risks to consider. In effect you will be giving away an unborn baby, not unlike being a surrogate mother. It certainly isn’t a decision to be made lightly, especially since DNA testing may mean that your future adult biological child could come looking for you.

Is Egg Donation Worth It?

Despite the risks, women are lining up to become potential donors. The combination of the economic downtrend and increasing student loan burdens has many young women opting to become egg donors to get their financial lives on track. And some donors don’t even consider the monetary compensation, but rather donate the eggs for altruistic reasons.

Helping an infertile couple experience parenthood can certainly be considered a good reason to consider donation. While that is true, you still need to think carefully about how you will feel once your egg delivers a baby into the world.

How do you feel about egg donation as a means for making extra money to pay off student loans, eliminate debt and save for a down payment on a first home? How much is enough to pay for an egg or is it even ethical to pay someone for donating her eggs? Would you consider it for $4000? What about $10,000, $20,000 or even $50,000? If you’re a guy reading this how would you feel if your wife or girlfriend decided to sell her eggs for cash?

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