Thanks to reproductive technology, pregnancy is a viable option even for people facing fertility issues. The process for egg donation is highly regulated by the FDA; the rigorous application process can qualify or disqualify a donor or recipient. There are several factors to consider when choosing to seek or become an egg donor.

Modern Fertility

Assisted reproductive technology allows more families than ever to bring a baby into the world. The most successful technique is in vitro fertilization, in which an egg is injected with sperm by serological pipette in a laboratory. Use of assisted reproductive technology allows for embryonic fertilization and, later, artificial insemination or surrogacy, regardless of whether the egg came from the prospective mother, or if she is ovulating.

in vitro fertilization Sandy Huffaker / Getty Images


Origins of Egg Donation

Egg donation became a common practice after the first child was successfully born by in vitro fertilization in 1978. In this case, the child was born as a result of natural-cycle IVF, meaning no hormonal stimulation accompanied the embryonic fertilization. The practice of egg donation is widespread, with as many as 8 million children born since 1978. However, some countries have restrictive laws on the practice. This has given rise to fertility tourism, in which parents travel to countries with more lenient practices to undergo in vitro fertilization. Nevertheless, egg donation has allowed infertile or menopausal parents the world over to have children.

First IVF baby Keystone / Getty Images


How the Process Has Changed

As genetics and molecular biology techniques have advanced, the process of egg donation and in vitro fertilization has changed drastically. Previously, same-sex couples that used in vitro fertilization could only have the DNA of one parent in the child. However, recent studies in model organisms used gene editing techniques to fertilize embryos with shared parental DNA.


Making Donations

For women considering donating eggs, there are three options: using an agency, using a clinic, or doing a directed egg donation. Agencies match prospective donors with families. Compensation for egg donation factors in the cost of living, wages lost during recovery, and other fees of convenience. The range for compensation ranges from less than $10,000 to upwards of $25,000. Typically, higher figures are associated with specific attributes or educational attainment ascertained through a directed egg donation match. In addition, a fresh donor egg can also garner higher compensation, as they produce better outcomes for implantation and gestation.

Doctor explaining steps to patient PeopleImages / Getty Images


Using Anonymous Donors

Families can choose to use anonymous donors for egg donation. The biographical information of egg donors who donate directly to a clinic is available in a database for families who want a specific background, profession, or education level. Anonymous donors are not involved in fertilization or gestational processes, and they waive their custody rights to any child resulting from their donation.

Woman with doctor SDI Productions / Getty Images


Designated Donors

Prospective parents can also designate a specific egg donor for the process. This can be a close relative, a family friend, or a donor with a background that matches the needs of the family. In comparison to anonymous donation, the designated donor is more involved in the process and may even serve as a gestational surrogate, meaning they would be implanted with the fertilized egg instead of the prospective mother. This is the closest relationship outcome from egg donation.

Couple meeting with egg donor PeopleImages / Getty Images


Shared Oocyte Programs

To guarantee a successful pregnancy and birth, a family using assisted reproductive technology will have multiple eggs harvested and fertilized. Following fruitful IVF, the remaining harvested eggs or fertilized embryos go into a shared oocyte program to which other families have access.

Dads with baby vgajic / Getty Images


Application Process

In the United States, the application and donor processes are tightly regulated by the FDA. Donors must be between 18 and 35 years of age, must not have any recent tattoos, be free of sexually transmitted infections, and be otherwise healthy. Recipients must be in financially and socially stable and meet various other parenting requirements. Regardless of suitability on paper, the cost of pursuing egg donation and IVF require financial stability.

Couple reviewing application together PeopleImages / Getty Images


Choosing A Donor and Egg

The process of choosing a donor and egg is incredibly personal. Some egg recipients choose donors based on IQ or educational attainment. One couple might choose based on physical traits like skin or eye color, while another makes their selection due to creativity or artistic expression. A family must decide which traits or characteristics they value in their offspring and choose accordingly.

Couple reading together Georgijevic / Getty Images


Potential Drawbacks

Though joys abound with bringing a new life into the world, there are potential drawbacks to using egg donation. Psychologically, parent-infant relationships can suffer, and the prevalence of this highlights the possible significance of shared genetic material in bonding. Telling children how they were conceived when they are older is another difficult step, as young people can struggle with self-identity. For egg donors, regret after donation and emotional attachment can occur. Nevertheless, egg donation allows modern families to overcome social and biological barriers that make conception difficult or impossible.


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