Mountains of student loans against the backdrop of a bleak job market have many young women looking for quick money. While the prospect of getting $5,000 for donating eggs may be appealing, it’s important that anyone considering this understand the commitment and time involved in donation.
Most clinics require donors be between the ages of 21 and 33, have a body mass index of less than 27, be non-smokers, have a high school diploma or college degree, and be able to pass a physical and psychological screening. If an applicant meets those requirements, she can usually apply online with a local fertility clinic. Some clinics may disqualify applicants who have a family history of diseases or those who were adopted and cannot provide a family medical history.
If the online application is accepted, donors will be put through a series of medical and psychological screenings to ensure that they are healthy and capable of making an informed decision to donate.
“We get 2,500 online applicants a year. Only 5% make it to the point where they have passed the prescreening,” says Michele Purcell, supervisor for the donor egg and gestational carrier program at Shady Grove Fertility Center in Maryland.
Once a couple and donor have been matched, the donor will be asked to begin taking birth control pills to regulate her cycle to match the recipient mother's. Once the cycles have been synced and a donation date has been set, the donor will begin giving herself a series of injections with fertility medication.
During this time, the donor will need to make frequent visits to the clinic for monitoring. Typically, an ovary produces one developed egg per month. The medication will allow multiple eggs to develop each month.
“Usually most donors have very few side effects, maybe localized side effects,” Purcell says. “They take daily injections for about a week, then twice daily injections until retrieval.”
Throughout this period, clinics may ask donors to abstain from sex completely or use specific methods of birth control to make sure the donor does not become pregnant.