If you’ve ever wondered how to sell your eggs and help an individual or a couple build a family, you’re in the right place.
The first child in the US from egg donation was conceived in 1983 and born in 1984. Since then, infertile women, women with genetic disorders, single men, and gay male couples have routinely turned to egg donors to fulfill their dream of having a child.
As a prospective egg donor, you may be wondering what to expect, where you can have it done, and if it’s worth the trouble.
In this article, we answer some of the most pressing questions of potential egg donors: what the requirements are, where you can do it, pros and cons, how the process works, how much you can get paid, and legal implications.
Requirements to Donate Eggs
Being female isn’t the only requirement to sell your eggs. The requirements for egg donors actually comprise quite a long list:
- Between the ages of 21 and 31
- Have both of your ovaries
- Physically healthy with no family history of inheritable genetic disorders. This means your BMI must be between 19 and 29, plus have no existing serious illness.
- Psychologically healthy; that is, no history of mental disorders or psychological issues; plus you shouldn’t be taking psychoactive drugs
- Non-smoker and no history of substance abuse
- No piercings or tattoos within the past 12 months
- Have regular and monthly menstrual periods and not using contraceptive implants, Depo-Provera injections, or IUDs
- Willing to take hormone injections and medications on a rigid schedule
- Able to keep appointments
Sometimes, your travel history would also be checked to see if you kept away from countries affected by certain diseases, such as Zika. Another medical history likely to be considered is sexually transmitted infections like gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis, chlamydia, and so on.
Many clinics do not list a college education as a requirement, but reports have shown that fertility clinics do prefer candidates with a degree.
The screening process, which involves physical exams, interviews, background checks, and psychological tests, takes about 6 to 8 weeks depending on the clinic.
If you tick all the boxes, you can submit an application to become an egg donor. But where do you go?
Where Can You Sell Your Eggs?
There are three main ways to donate your eggs:
- Through an egg donor agency — Egg donor agencies screen potential egg donors and then match successfully chosen donors with recipients or fertility clinics.
- Through a fertility clinic or center with a donor service — Instead of going through an egg donor clinic, you can look for a fertility clinic that handles both the screening and the rest of the donation process
- Through a directed egg donation — In some cases, you can skip the matchmaking part and write up an agreement with an intended recipient (often a friend or a family member) before you go to a fertility clinic.
If you’ve found a clinic and want to know more about it, make sure to check the Fertility Clinic Success Rates Report published by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention).
Pros and Cons of Selling Your Eggs
As with donating any other bodily fluids or organs, there are certain pros and cons to selling your eggs. These are important to consider before learning how to sell your eggs.
1. You give people a chance to start or build a family. This is one of the best reasons to donate eggs and should be your main motivation if it isn’t already.
Donating eggs is an act of empathy and compassion for couples experiencing infertility, couples who have inheritable genetic disorders, single men who are willing to hire a surrogate, LGBTQ+ couples, and others who want to be parents but cannot conceive.
2. You get free medical testing. Selling your eggs is a serious health-related decision, and for that reason, you need to undergo various tests to ensure you’re physically up to it.
You get to be tested for chronic diseases, genetic disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases. These tests can run up to thousands of dollars, and you get these tests for free if you decide to apply as an egg donor.
You even get to know about your own fertility potential, which is a big deal in terms of your reproductive health and any decisions you have about being a parent yourself.
3. You get financial benefits. Plenty of women donate their eggs selflessly, but it would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that the monetary compensation is huge and can be a motivating factor.
The compensation is for the donors’ time, generosity, and dedication. Many egg donors use the payment to achieve their own financial goals and fulfill their own dreams.
1. The process can be stressful. Donating eggs takes time, patience, and mental fortitude, not to mention the physical changes that can occur. All these can take a toll on even the strongest of women.
The screenings alone can take six to eight weeks, and after all that you may not even be qualified (some clinics report that only 3% to 4% of applicants get to ultimately donate their eggs).
2. Donation can cause physical changes that may be irreversible. The fertility medication used to stimulate women’s ovaries can cause changes to one’s menstrual cycle. In some cases, these changes can be permanent.
In extreme cases, some egg donors may experience ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Symptoms can range from mild abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting to blood clots, ovarian torsion, and even death.
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Doctors believe that OHSS is caused by fertility clinics being careless about administering hormones to donors and not solely because of the hormone therapy itself.
3. It’s not a steady, long-term side hustle. Because of the physical effects of the medication and the limited number of eggs a woman has, you can’t donate more than six times in a lifetime.
Also, there’s a recommended waiting time of a few months between donations. So if you’re looking for a constant source of side cash, egg donation isn’t the answer.
How Does the Egg Donation Process Go?
Different clinics have different processes, but in general, they follow similar steps like this:
- Fill out and send an egg donor application — Most application forms will ask about personal stuff (beyond your demographic info), followed by your medical history. Wait for an invitation.
- The clinic invites you back for some tests and interviews — In the clinic, potential donors would have to undergo physical tests, ovarian function tests, psychological tests, drug tests, and other types of medical and psychological exams. The screenings can take six to eight weeks to complete.
- The clinic lets you know whether they’ve approved your application and whether they’ve matched you to a recipient — At this stage, you’ll also be informed of the next steps, your legal rights, how to self-administer your medications, and what you can and can’t do while you’re under medication (the most important thing to not do is have intercourse until three weeks after egg retrieval).
- You start medication. — First, you stop your menstrual cycle. In the third week, you self-inject with a drug to reduce sex hormones, then a drug to stimulate multiple follicles to produce eggs, and then a final injection of follicle-stimulating hormone so that you ovulate on a specific date.
- Eggs are retrieved from the donor. — On the date of your ovulation, your eggs are harvested while you’re under IV sedation. This step only takes 20 to 30 minutes.
- Go back to the clinic. — You’ll be having post-retrieval checkups at the clinic, including a sonogram and a psych evaluation.
If everything works out, there’s a big chance you might be invited back to another cycle (donate more eggs) in the future.
What Happens to the Eggs You Sell?
Once the eggs have been harvested from your ovaries, there are a number of possible things that can happen to them.
- Embryos may not be formed. It could be a problem with the sperm, the storage conditions, or the eggs themselves. These unfertilized eggs can be used for research or discarded as medical waste.
- Pregnancy may occur but may end in a miscarriage.
- Multiple embryos may develop and the recipient may have two or more fetuses implanted in them. Multiple pregnancies are at a higher risk of various complications, but having multiples can make it likely that at least one of them will complete their term.
- Embryos may be frozen for future use. It’s possible that an embryo of yours can end up in a recipient and born months or years from when you sold your eggs.
- Embryos may go to more than one recipient.
- Frozen embryos may end up unimplanted; the clinic may ask permission from the intended recipient to donate them to another recipient, donate them to research, leave them frozen indefinitely, or allow them to be destroyed as medical waste.
Keep in mind, though, that once you’ve sold your eggs, you will not be informed of what will happen to them.
Legal Implications of Selling Your Eggs
Aside from knowing the steps on how to sell your eggs, it’s important to know the legal implications of doing this.
In the US, it is legal for a woman to donate her eggs, whether anonymously or not, as well as receive financial compensation for it.
Most egg donation clinics keep the egg donors’ identities from the recipients, except for relevant medical information.
The most important legal implication you need to know is that most of the time, you agree to terminate all claims, legal rights, and responsibilities to your resulting embryos or children. Legal documents will not record you as the birth mother.
Also, you normally give up the right to even know what happens to your eggs once you’ve donated them.
In cases of direct donation where the donor and recipient already know each other or even have a close relationship, clinics recommend arranging the screening, treatment, and transfer processes together.
Rarely, and only if both parties are willing, recipients may permit the donor to make contact with the child once they reach a certain age.
How Much Can You Get for Donating Your Eggs?
Many egg donors are enticed by monetary compensation, and why not?
The average amount of payment ranges from $6,000 to $10,000, depending on the agency or clinic you work with.
This can even go up to $15,000 for a direct donation.
Expenses incurred, such as parking, lost wages, and other incidentals are usually paid on top of the amount in the agreement.
Ready To Sell Your Eggs?
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Donating eggs to help other people does sound good, not to mention your potential compensation as a bonus.
However, being under hormone therapy does carry some health risks.
Also, if you end up working with shady clinics that won’t look out for your well-being throughout the process could lead to serious issues, such as the removal of ovaries or even death.
On the other hand, if you’d like to go the traditional route of selling your stuff, here are a few things to sell to make some quick cash.