Egg Donor Myths Debunked

In this world of information overload, we see a lot of fake news about egg donation and surrogacy. We talk with an egg donor we know personally, about why she chose to donate her eggs. Here are Jewel’s answers to the most common misconceptions and why she decided to donate her eggs.

Why would you ever choose to be an egg donor?
I heard of a friend donating to a local clinic about 5 years before I actually decided to donate. She was a young single mother and after hearing her experience, I understood it to be very clinical and did not even contemplate the intended parents' perspective at that time. It wasn't until several years later that I was faced with the idea that I might not be able to have children with my husband. In a specialist waiting room, I was reintroduced to egg donation. I understood donation on a completely different level. If there was someone out there who could help ME have children, wouldn't that be a beautiful thing?

Egg donors only do it for the money, right?
I'm not going to pretend that the compensation doesn't play an important factor. In many places across the world, compensated egg donation is illegal, and in those places, the waitlist for an egg donor can be years. Egg donors are typically establishing themselves in life and the compensation they receive may help pay down student loans or go towards important purchases. They commit a significant amount of time and energy into a cycle, for which they should be compensated. Many donors feel that is what they are being compensated for and not for the eggs they donate. With that said, being selected as an egg donor was an incredibly emotional experience for me and I've found many donors have similar experiences. They may wish to know more about the parents or child in the future. Many donors come to egg donation after seeing a loved one go through the struggle of infertility and wanting to help someone else going through a similar struggle. I believe that we are all wired with this innate desire to want to help others. Egg donation can be an incredibly fulfilling and rewarding process, with or without compensation. But compensation definitely helps.

Anyone can be an egg donor?
Not true. Let's run through the qualification process quickly. You apply to a clinic or agency to be an egg donor. Right away, they ask initial questions that can immediately disqualify you. Questions on your basic health: how old are you (over 30 need not apply!), are you currently taking any medications (anxiety, depression and sometimes even acne medication can disqualify you!), etc? Based on your response to these questions, they might invite you to complete a more thorough questionnaire. They want to know about you, your immediate and even extended family health. They want to know education, personal philosophies, reproductive health. If the preliminary review of your profile passes the mini requirements set forth by ASRM, you are able to create a profile. If and when you match with a couple, the fertility clinic that the intended parents work with will thoroughly vet this donor. They used to run a genetic panel of 10 genetic mutations that would disqualify a donor. They are now screening for hundreds of mutations to give the intended parents the best insight into the donors' health. On top of genetic testing, donors need to have a good ovarian reserve and appropriate hormone levels. Donors undergo Psychological screening and Genetic Counseling (different than genetic testing!). Donors typically have to complete FDA screening twice throughout the duration of a single cycle and will be tested for drugs and nicotine.

Is egg donation really painful/dangerous?
It can be. As with any surgical procedure or medication, there are side effects and potential complications. Most often, I see donors concerned about the injections, which are really quite painless. The surgical procedure usually takes 10- 15 mins. Most donors complain of mild cramping, similar to that of their menstrual cycle the day of. OHSS (Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome) can be dangerous and painful. Clinics take great measures to ensure they are stimulating donors properly. The monitoring appointments that take place throughout the cycle provide them crucial information as to how a donor's body is responding to the medication. They may increase or decrease medication based on how a donor is responding.

Donating my eggs will mean I will deplete my own egg supply and I will become infertile, right?
I see this question/ concern all the time and it was a concern of mine as well. With the first egg donor cycle completed in 1984, researchers have had time to study the effects of egg donation on women's future fertility. So far there is no evidence to support any claims that donating eggs will harm future fertility.
*Jewel has since given birth to two healthy children of her own - Donor Concierge

Being a donor means I will have to travel and take time off of school or work?
You have the option of going to a clinic near you and registering to be a donor with their program- in which case travel would not be needed. If you decide to register with an agency, then travel is likely as the chances of the couple being local to you are small. Most of the egg donor cycles take place at the fertility clinic where the intended parents are established, patients. If you match with a couple not local to you, you will need to travel to their clinic on two occasions. Once for a "donor day" where you complete your screening, sign medical consents and have injection training and then again for the retrieval week (plan on 7-10 days for travel).

It’s only older women who need egg donors.
There are a number of women who cannot conceive using their own eggs and for a variety of reasons. The most common reason we see women decide to work with an egg donor is egg quality (which decreases as you get older- but this can affect younger women as well). There are also women who chose not to use their own genetics due to health concerns in the family that would likely be passed down to their children.
*Not the only reasons, others include: cancer treatments in females, same-sex couples, Premature Menapause among others - Donor Concierge

Can an egg donor might be responsible for any child born from the donation?
When you decide to be an egg donor, you will enter into a legal agreement transferring the custody of the eggs to the clinic or intended parent.
*All egg donors should have their own attorney who specializes in egg donation, help them to review the contracts. The fee will be covered by the intended parents when they sign the agency match agreement. - Donor Concierge

Is egg donation anonymous?
You can choose to have an anonymous or open donation. The majority of donations are anonymous. Keep in mind in this day with ancestry kits and reverse image searching capabilities, complete anonymity is very difficult to promise. This is why the legal agreement is important - to establish mutual boundaries for the type of relationship you will have.

Did you tell anyone? What did your family and friends think of you being an egg donor?
I shared with my immediate family only. My husband fully supported my decision. I had various responses from my family. Some had some health concerns and while others had emotional concerns, wondering if I would regret my decision later in life. With that said, I've never regretted my decision to donate. I hope that my participation in the cycle process brought happiness to another family.