Six Common Misconceptions of Egg Donation
Myth 1. Anyone can be an egg donor
Untrue. Fertility clinics have specific guidelines a female donor must meet in order to ensure quality eggs. For example, the donor:
- Must be healthy and a non-smoker
- Is between the ages of 21-34 (this varies among clinics)
- Is free from sexually transmitted infectious disease for a minimum of 12 months
- Is asked to provide a detailed medical and gynecologic history
- Must undergo a complete physical exam
- Must have a high school degree (college degree preferred)
- Has no history of illegal drug use
- Has no history of inherited cancers in the family.
Myth 2. My future fertility will be affected
Also false. Many women think that they don’t have enough eggs to give any away. There is no need for a potential egg donor to worry about not having enough eggs if she is interested in starting her own family down the road. Here’s why. Each woman is born with a set number of eggs, usually in the 1 million range. By the time a woman begins her menstrual cycle, she has around 400,000 eggs. Of these, anywhere from 400 to 500 will mature to become viable eggs for reproduction. Each month during menstruation a woman loses about 10 to 20 eggs. When a woman decides to donate her eggs she is given hormonal therapy to help her eggs mature for optimal donation. During donation, a woman eliminates around the same number of eggs that would have been eliminated by her body anyway. She will still have all of the eggs she would’ve had for each month after her eggs are harvested for donation.
Myth 3. Only older women need the help of an egg donor
False. Many couples of all ages have infertility problems or other reproductive disorders that can determine they need to use a donated egg. Women who have problems with their ovaries or with egg production can consider egg donation. Egg donation is a good option for women who:
- Were born without ovaries or whose ovaries were removed due to cancer or other serious medical issues
- Are known carriers of genetic conditions they do not want to pass on to their children
- Do not respond to ovulation induction
- Have experienced multiple failed cycles of in vitro fertilization (IVF) due to poor egg quality
- Have reached menopause or experienced premature ovarian failure, which happens when a woman’s ovaries stop functioning properly before 40 years of age.
Myth 4. I can donate my eggs as many times as I’d like
Not so fast. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine guidelines, a potential egg donor is allowed to complete six retrieval cycles. The amount of time in between each donation depends on the IVF clinic and doctor.
Myth 5. I heard egg donation is painful!
This depends on the individual, but most donors don’t complain of the procedure being painful in any way. The procedure is performed by a physician and lasts between 15 and 30 minutes. Donors are lightly sedated with an IV and monitored by the clinic staff for an hour or two after the procedure. After the retrieval, the donor may be groggy and experience some mild cramping. Then the donor is sent home and can typically return to work and normal activities the next day.
Myth 6. I’ll eventually be contacted by “my child” down the road
Not necessarily. Egg donation is usually completely anonymous and confidential depending on the donor’s personal preference. Your egg recipients will never know anything personal about you other than medical and genetic information used to help parents choose donor eggs that best match their own genetic profiles and interests. Most donors prefer an anonymous donation where their identity is kept secret and they have no contact with the intended parents. You can choose to meet the intended parents however, and have a phone conversation, meet in person, have an email relationship, or have no relationship at all. Of course, the intended parents you are matched with must agree to your request.
Now you decide
Egg donation is a type of third-party reproduction used by women or couples who have not been able to conceive using their own eggs. For women who would otherwise be unable to become pregnant, egg donation makes it possible to carry and deliver a baby. These are all good things, but egg donation involves complex medical, emotional, psychological and legal implications. Prospective egg donors should seek the advice of legal and mental health professionals who are experienced in third-party reproductive issues before choosing to donate their eggs.
If you are interested in becoming an egg donor, please contact us.