My Experience Becoming an Egg Donor
Why I Wanted to Donate My Eggs
Imagine walking down a street and seeing women pushing strollers and baby carriages. Everywhere you look you see smiling pregnant women—some just starting their new families and others who have a brood of children playing nearby. Now imagine you're infertile and you know that without an egg donor, you'll never have the chance to have a child of your own. You'll never experience the feeling of a life inside you, or your baby's kick inside your tummy.
I can't recall why I decided to be an egg donor. Perhaps I had seen an emotional interview with a couple struggling with infertility. It may have been due to the fact my sister-in-law had tried for many years to conceive before deciding to adopt a child. I knew that I had been one of the fortunate women who was blessed to have children. I also feel a bond with other women, almost as though we are sisters in this world, pulling together to make it a better place for our families.
It was 20 years ago when I decided to donate some of my eggs anonymously. It had been something I had thought about for quite some time, and when we moved south of London, I knew it was time to pursue this. There is an age limit on egg donors, and I was nearing the upper cut-off point. In the USA the age limit is between 18-32, and in the UK it is 18-35 years old.
Health Requirements for Egg Donors
My first point of contact was my local GP, who was a marvelous woman and a caring doctor. She told me she would get the information for me and help in whatever way she could.
This took place in London at the Royal Marsden Hospital, and after a doctor's appointment discussing what would happen, I agreed that I still wanted to go ahead with this procedure.
I had to be checked to see if I was healthy. This included blood tests and answering a long list of questions. These questions not only concerned my own health but also that of my children, my sisters, and my parents. This was to make sure that there were no known genetic defects that could be passed on to a child.
Questions regarding family came up; such as, was I certain I didn't want to have any more children. At the time, my children were 8 and 10 years old, and I knew my family was complete.
The questionnaire also included information including my hair color, eye color, weight, and height. I also answered questions about my education and what level of schooling I had completed.
Today, they also ask for a body mass index (BMI) of less than 29. Although this test wasn't required when I was donating, this was never a problem for me.
Hormone Injections and Side Effects
Just as if someone was to undergo IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatment, an egg donor is required to have hormone injections to stimulate the ovaries to produce multiple eggs. After using a nasal spray for 10 days, I then had daily hormone injections for two weeks. These were done at home, either by myself or by my husband.
The eggs were harvested shortly after that time; this usually occurs 36 hours later.
Although nausea and mood swings can occur during the time of receiving the injections, I can't say I felt any ill effect from it other than a soreness in my posterior from the injections.
Although I was adamant this was something I wanted to do, my husband was against this decision. He feared something would go wrong and had his concerns over my well-being. It is best if everyone is supportive during this time but, as in my case, it doesn't always happen.
Because mood swings can occur during this time, it's best that everyone in your family knows what will be happening beforehand. This will allow others to be more understanding during this time.
Payment for Donating Eggs
You may be wondering if there is a payment for egg donation, and that would depend where you donate and where you live. I received no payment when living in the UK—it was completely a voluntary program. Even my transportation to and from the hospital was not covered.
In the USA there are companies that do pay for egg donation. Some of these range from $5,000-$10,000. This would be organized through the company, and other costs including travel, insurance, and attorney fees may or may not be included.
If you were donating for another person you know, any financial settlement would be worked out beforehand. If this is the case, using an attorney is a good idea to ensure both parties understand their rights.
Rights of the Egg Donor
As an egg donor, it is worth checking what rights you may or may not have. In the UK I was advised that I would have no parental rights or financial responsibilities for any child born as a result of the donation. This was fine by me, as I wanted to do this anonymously and never planned seek out any offspring. I was also told that the laws could change, and the information could be given out if a new law came into force. I understood there would be a chance of this but at that time, I felt the benefit of giving far outweighed any negative side.
I have read that in the USA, the legalities can vary from state to state and this is why, if you're thinking of becoming an egg donor, you should think carefully about it. Check with an attorney to see if you are comfortable with your rights and those of any potential children and their new families.
Health Risks of Becoming an Egg Donor
Just as any medical procedure has risks, so too does egg donation. These risk are considered minimal but can include:
- ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). Patients with OHSS may experience dehydration, clotting problems, and damage to the kidneys.
- Problems also may occur during the harvesting of the eggs. These may be due to the anesthetic or the procedure may cause damage to surrounding organs.
Because egg donation requires an unnatural stimulation of the ovaries by taking hormones, there is a concern this could cause cancer. There are few long term studies which have shown this as many of the studies are only about the women who are undergoing IVF treatment who then carry the child. For these women, there is an increased risk of uterine cancer but it is believed that their cancers are not related to the hormones but underlying causes which caused these women to seek fertility treatment in the first place.
Notification From the Hospital
When my eggs were harvested, I was a bit sore and took some pain medication they provided and went home. I was told I would be notified regarding my donation.
I received a letter a short while after the procedure telling me my eggs weren't viable. I was sad that I hadn't started the procedure of donation sooner, as I know many couples are waiting for egg donors to begin the family they desperately want.
Looking back now, 20 years on, I am still pleased I decided to pursue it. I only wish it had been successful.