Continuing our series of posts with industry experts’ tips and recommendations (you can find our previous post with 24 Experts Sharing their Wisdom on How to have a Successful Surrogacy Journey), we decided this time to reach out to several egg donation experts to ask them for their best tips for both egg donors and intended parents. We are excited to say we received a massive number of replies, from experts all over the world; therefore we decided to split our article into two: Tips for egg donors and Tips for intended parents.
In this blog we speak a lot about surrogacy, but in many cases, the surrogacy journey goes hand in hand with egg donation. Several can be the reasons to decide to use an egg donor, but in this first article we will focus in the egg donors, amazing women that decided to give a wonderful gift and help build families (if you want to learn more about egg donation you can read our article “How to donate eggs? The egg donation process”).
If you are an intended parent, you will be able to find the best tips in our upcoming blog post Egg Donation, tips for Intended Parents.
Valerie has been working in the women’s healthcare field for the last decade. She merged her medical career and fertility passion when she founded the educational website eggsperience.com and podcast Eggology Club.
For women donating eggs, I think they need to consider and understand (same for men/sperm donors) that their DNA donation future child may want to know more about who they are, may contact them in future even with closed donations because of how the world has changed with facial recognition and future technology down the line that could impact this choice they are making today or in past. Another tip is to make sure emotionally they are okay with the donation if later down the line they may have trouble conceiving naturally. What are their thoughts on that? How will they feel knowing their biological kid(s) might be in existence that they are not a part of that family? That’s when they should consider if they should also bank some eggs for themselves not just donate and ask the clinic if that can be part of the package. All of this is a very personal choice and value system that can only be determined by the individual.
Dr. John Jain is a Board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and a pioneer in the field of reproductive medicine with 25 years of scientific, clinical and teaching experience including a decade as a decorated professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the USC Keck School of Medicine.
The egg donor’s experience greatly depends on the care provided by the physician and medical staff. It’s important to choose a clinic-based agency or third party agency that truly appreciates the donor’s contribution and puts safety above all other priorities. With clinic-based agencies, the donor works with the same doctor each time, whereas third-party agencies typically refer donors to different clinics which may lead to delays and varying degrees of donor experience both positive and negative.
Stephanie M. Caballero
Stephanie, inspired by her personal experience with infertility and surrogacy, has exclusively practiced reproductive law for over a decade. She is principal and founder of The Surrogacy Law Center and serves on the boards of Fertile Action and Parents Via Egg Donation.
You can never ask too many questions! Even though the egg retrieval is a relatively simple medical procedure, you could experience complications, as every woman’s body is different. Make sure you are educated as to what medications you will be taking and what to expect from the retrieval itself.
Also, keep in mind that in today’s world, there’s no guarantee of anonymity forever, even in an anonymous donation. A good agency will tell you that – and then explain to you all the safeguards they have in place to protect your privacy to the fullest extent possible.
Gail Sexton Anderson
Gail Sexton Anderson is the founder and CEO of Donor Concierge. An innovator, speaker, and creative thinker in 3rd party fertility, she is on the board of the Society for Ethics in Egg Donation & Surrogacy. Gail earned her Ed.M. from Harvard.
It’s very important to really understand the medical process but equally as important to think through all the aspects of having someone who is genetically linked to you out in the world. If you think of these eggs that you are donating as having your ‘children’ out there, egg donation may not be for you. Are you open to being contacted in the future? There is no such thing as anonymity anymore so you must be open to the idea of contact. Open donations can be mutually rewarding for all involved, including the children born out of the arrangement.
Denise Steele founded Hope4Fertility, where she provides encouragement and resources to those seeking their third-party path to parenthood and she is an ART Escrow Consultant for SeedTrust.
Take time to research any/all of your relatives’ medical conditions. It will involve speaking to many of your family members and asking a lot of detailed questions. It’s not information that a single person in your family will know. Be open and honest about all of the conditions you will be asked to report throughout your donor screening process. Some of the data will not be detectable through genetic testing which is why doing your own due diligence is so important. Obscuring any medical information, whether you think it is important or not, may be harmful to future offspring and their extended families.
Aleksander is the Chief Marketing Officer of Egg Donation Friends. He is a marketer, patient’s experience manager and advocate of transparency and truth of IVF treatment.
Egg donors are most often women who feel the need to help others, in this case, couples who struggle with infertility. If you are generally healthy, motivated and prepared for a rather engaging process of donating your eggs, your help will be invaluable. If you decide to help other couples this way, make sure you choose the clinic wisely. I would recommend a clinic with at least a few years of experience and current permits and certificates. A very important this are legal issues – makes sure you carefully check the documents that you will have to sign. The clinic should also inform you about the risks associated with hormonal stimulation and the very procedure of collecting oocytes.
Liz is the Media Liaison in We Are Egg Donors. She is a product developer and freelance writer, editor, and reviewer. Liz lives in Washington, DC with her husband and two children.
First of all, make sure you’re comfortable with potential risks to your own health and fertility, and consider waiting until your own family is complete to donate, as is required of donors in many non-US countries. There have been no studies to date about the long-term effects of egg donation; doctors will often tell donors that there are “no known risks”, which is only true because no one has looked for any. Do your research, and advocate for yourself!
- If the doctor is treating you disrespectfully, or if you’re having a bad reaction to the medication, or if you have a high follicle count but your doctor doesn’t seem concerned about OHSS, speak up. Your health matters too.
- Ensure that a lawyer reviews your contract and that it’s a different lawyer from the one the recipients are using; it’s common practice for agencies to use the same lawyer, which is a conflict of interest. Flag anything that seems wrong and if you’re not comfortable, don’t move forward – look for a better match.
- When negotiating your compensation, remember that the 2015 Perez decision states that compensation from donation is taxable income, and take that into account; also consider that if you have short-term complications and end up in the hospital, you will want to be able to pay for childcare, lost wages, etc.
- Check out resources like We Are Egg Donors to get your questions answered.
Mark P. Trolice
Mark is Director of Fertility CARE – The IVF Center and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology at the University Of Central Florida College Of Medicine.
The process of egg donation involves approximately 10 days of you receiving injectable stimulating medication to produce multiple mature eggs which are then retrieved in a minor procedure while you are under sedation.
Fortunately, you have minimal risks during and after your donation cycle. You can be assured you will not lose your eggs faster, go into menopause sooner, or have a higher rate of infertility as a result of the cycle. Also, there are no definitive long-term health risks to you. Please ensure all your questions are answered by the clinical team before you undergo donation.
A hero is defined as someone who is “admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.” Any individual who donates a part of them to save another person’s life or relieve their suffering should be considered a hero. This is a courageous act and should qualify you as a hero.
Wendie is the president of Gifted Journeys, co-author of The Insiders Guide to Egg Donation and co-founder of The Society for Ethics in Egg Donation and Surrogacy.
- Understand that egg donation is not without its risks, medically or emotionally. Be sure that you have an agency who thoroughly goes over the risks and benefits of egg donation in equal measure:
- Understand that, while rare, serious issues such as loss of ovaries, infection, complications from anesthesia and other possible risks are something to consider.
- Understand the emotional financial journey your hopeful intended parents are on, and be sure that you feel committed and available once you sign up.
- Understand that you will be required to abstain from alcohol, alternative substances and even sexual intercourse for a period of time while doing the donation.
- Understand and be receptive to a child or children who may be curious about their future genetic connection. Consider what curiosities you would have should you find out you were conceived via egg donation and know the children through your donation will likely feel the same.
- Understand that there is no such thing as anonymity anymore. Websites like 23 & Me, social media, and various other online portals make anonymous donation obsolete.
Kristen is a fertility and divorce coach. She is an award-winning author and nationwide speaker.
A daily nurturing item is the fuel needed to sustain your emotional resilience during this process.
Lisa is a health lawyer and the principal lawyer of Lisa Feldstein Law Office Professional Corporation. When she is not busy lawyering, she is teaching health law as an Adjunct Professor at York University, mentoring law students and raising two young kids.
Think – in detail – about the future. Especially if you do not have children already and are only able to speculate.
I find women who are single are often quick to agree to confidentiality forever. When I start to ask future-oriented questions (for example, would you want to be able to tell your future partner that you donated your eggs to your sister?) they tend to express more nuanced views.
Tertia Albertyn and Melany Bartok
Melany Bartok co-founded Nurture with Tertia Albertyn in 2008. Tertia is a recovering infertile and now mother to teenage twins conceived on her 9th IVF + one freebie bonus child. Melany is an ex-egg donor herself.
Becoming an egg donor is one of the most fulfilling things you will ever do. You are giving the ultimate gift to couples and singles who long to have a child. Before you sign up, do your research and make sure you sign up with a reputable, established egg donor agency. Ask questions about what support you will be given from the agency. Find out what clinics the agency is affiliated with.
Wendy is Co-Founder and Director of the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR). The DSR is a charity organization, founded in 2000 by Wendy and her son Ryan, to assist individuals conceived as a result of sperm, egg or embryo donation who are seeking to make mutually desired contact.
Your number one thought should be: what is in the best interests of the child to be born? Having the Donor Sibling Registry a part of your agreement ensures that you can be in communication (anonymously if wished) right from pregnancy/birth.
You can be empowered to decide the nature, depth, and breadth of your relationship, all while sharing messages, photos and most importantly, medical information with each other.
Reproductive Lawyer. Founder of Amy Demma Law Offices. Providing services in Reproductive Law, offering legal counsel to parents, egg donors, embryo donors, and parties engaged in compassionate/non-compensated surrogacy as well as clinical practitioners and agencies.
I often serve as donor legal counsel and I have the opportunity to work with the same donor across multiple cycles – I get to bond with that donor and often a relationship develops. One of the first things I ask of donor clients is whether or not they understand the success rates of egg donation. I remind them that there is a good likelihood that a baby (or babies) will result from each egg donation cycle. I want my donor clients to understand that their donation does not end at retrieval, that they are entering into a process with potentially life-long implications. I spend more time now than I ever have talking to donors about future contact with the donor-conceived child (or children) and we talk about the potential for the child, of his own initiative and perhaps without the parents’ consent or even knowledge, to find the donor, even if the terms of the donation are such that the parents and donor anticipated anonymity. For any woman considering egg donation, she should certainly be fully informed about the medical risks, she absolutely should be receiving independent legal counsel to best understand legal risks but if she can think ahead 10 years and consider that any one of the children resulting from her donations may find her on Facebook or through a DNA testing service, if she has thought that through, perhaps discussed it with a mental health professional experienced in collaborative reproduction, and she is good with that, then I believe she is making an informed decision to be an egg donor. And I have this conversation each time I meet with a donor regardless of whether or not we have spoken before.
Alpesh is a consultant Clinical Embryologist and a co-founder at IVF London. He is also a co-founder and director of the Embryology and PGD Academy. Alpesh is a Diplomate of the Royal College of Pathologists and also an Eshre certified Senior Embryologist.
It is important to be aware of the implications especially the ones around the law and anonymity. How would the donor feel about being traceable by the potential child when he/she is 18?
CEO Egg Helpers . His role as a dad is where his passion comes from. Having a family is so important to Scott that he wishes for all EggHelper’s clients to be able to experience all that parenthood has to offer.
You should feel as though you’re being treated like a person, and not like a number or a medical specimen. Communication between the donor and the clinic is very important. You should feel valued for your contribution, and there should be open communication and transparency throughout the process.
CEO and Founder of Sunshine Egg Donation Agency. For more than 7 years, Alex has been dedicating his life to helping people in Asian and European countries. During that time, he has created one of the largest international egg donor databases.
You should admit that egg donation is not a job. This is the way to help others; therefore, the final decision should come from your heart. Moreover, egg donation will require a lot of your time, dedication, and efforts, so you should not trust the clinics who say that it will be a quick and easy way.
Search online, look for the best fertility agency, ask as many questions as you can! Ask about the procedure, medications, anonymity, and possible risks. Keeping informed means being secure and achieving your goals.
Robyn is Managing Partner at Little Miracles. She is married with 2 kids, 2 cats and 1 dog. She has been an egg donor a number of times and knows the Egg Donation and Surrogacy life as if it were her own.
Research, research, research.
When you consider egg donation, you are giving the gift of hope to a family. That’s an amazing, selfless act. For yourself, before you put yourself through the egg donation process, you must be aware personal questions will be asked including your STI history. Since the information that you’re sharing is private and sensitive, making sure you’re working with a reputable egg-donation agency that will treat confidentiality at the highest level is important.
Licensed psychotherapist specializing in egg donation and surrogacy support.
Embrace the kindness of what you are doing for someone. It is something you can feel good about your entire life.
Amelia is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology and Psychiatry at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine where she also provides consultation. She is a licensed psychologist specializing in women’s reproductive health.
There is no such thing as anonymous donation! With current genetic testing companies, children who are donor conceived are getting connected to their donors and donors’ families. Even if the donor does not submit their own DNA, their cousin or sibling may submit DNA and this could be enough of a connection to be identified. This is our current technology, and is only likely to increase in the future. It is important for donors to consider how they feel about being contacted, or their family and children being contacted, by donor conceived individuals in the future.
Donor Recruiter at the World Egg Bank
Our biggest tip for becoming an egg donor is to be patient. Many women apply thinking that the egg donation process is quick and simple. In reality, it can take months to complete your donation. Although the actual procedure itself is relatively short, generally taking about 25 minutes, there are many steps to complete before getting to retrieval—including filling out applications, screening, genetic testing, and waiting to be chosen by a recipient. Although the process might take longer than anticipated, we can guarantee that the feeling of knowing that you are helping someone complete their family is 100% worth the wait!
Joseph B Davis
Dr. Joseph Davis is the Medical Director of Cayman Fertility Centre in the Cayman Islands. He is a board-certified Reproductive Endocrinologist and Infertility Specialist with a passion for helping people to build a family, and a RESOLVE Physician council member.
Be prepared for a busy two weeks. You are helping another person or couple to fulfill their dream of having a family and their happiness is tied to you. Be willing and available for your appointments and flexible with unexpected changes in your schedule. This will help everyone’s stress level including yours. You are then more likely to be asked to be a donor in the future!
Julie currently works for Egg Donation, Inc. serving clients from all over the world. She is a focused healthcare professional who is passionate about bringing hope for family dreams and transforming how people think about infertility.
Egg donors are invited into a community where they can give someone the perfect gift for those struggling to conceive. You become a beacon of hope in an otherwise dark and lonely season. Do your research on all the stages of the process, physical and psychological side effects, and how the outcome may affect you. Although egg donors are financially compensated for their generosity, your altruism will have a greater impact. This can be an intense process and establishing a support system will enable you to give this gift of love.
Elizabeth Swire Falker
Liz is a former infertility patient, author of The Infertility Survival Handbook and The Ultimate Insider’s Guide to Adoption, adoptive parent, lawyer and advocate for anyone trying to build their family through assisted reproductive technologies or adoption.
My number one tip for women considering donating their eggs is to really think about the nature and scope of future contact they are open to having with the intended parents and the child conceived from the donated eggs. In this day and age – especially with online DNA registries – no one can guarantee that an anonymous donation will stay anonymous. It is better to be prepared and think through potential situations than to be contacted without warning and without any contract terms outlining what type of contact, if any, the donor is comfortable entering into.
Shalene is not only an industry veteran, but a client; having preserved her own fertility through cryopreservation before most people even knew what that was. She founded Nest Egg Fertility and Nest Abroad Surrogacy with the intention of creating the experience she wishes she had had.
Egg donation is a beautiful gift to give to intended parents. Without egg donation, many deserving intended parents would not be able to realize their dream of their own family, so it is truly life changing for everyone. However, I think it is essential to make sure donors have been fully educated on the entire medical process as well as the psychological implications. I advise donors to speak with their doctors about any risks related to the medical procedure as well as to speak with a licensed therapist who will discuss any potential scenarios related from a psychological perspective. Once everything is fully understood and the donor has the heart to give this amazing gift, then all of the stars are aligned for the best outcome for all parties involved.
John Paul Aguirre
JP Aguirre and his husband, Dale, are intended parents who embarked on the journey of gestational surrogacy. They are expecting a baby girl in August. JP Aguirre is also a blogger chronicling their surrogacy experience on Dad-Moves.com. The couple resides in San Francisco.
The money alone is not worth the hormones, appointments, procedures, and discomfort of donating your eggs. You have to do it for the right reasons – you’re fulfilling a higher purpose, helping those of us who can’t conceive on our own.
Dr. John Kennedy graduated at University College Dublin in 2000 and is a member of the Royal College of Physicians, Ireland. Prior to joining Sims as a consultant.
The most important thing to understand is that in most countries this is purely altruistic and it’s not a way to make money. That being said it’s a wonderful thing to do.
The process usually involves daily injections for around two weeks and then a small procedure. There are some very small risks associated with the collecting of the eggs but it is overall a safe and well tolerated procedure.
Before a woman can be considered for egg donation her own fertility must be assessed. This testing can turn up uncomfortable results and can sometimes come back lower than expected which can cast doubt on the woman’s ability to have her own children, let alone be a donor.
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In summary, you need to do your research (and if you are reading this you are in the good track), ask as many questions as you need, your help is invaluable and can change lives! Be aware of the risks and the psychological implications of donating, but most of all, even when receiving monetary compensation, the main reason why most women decide to help others create a family by donating eggs is generosity and altruism.
We often come back to the same advice but don’t forget these are tips from industry specialists, but you need to take what better works for you, what feels right. Every case is a world, and either if you are donating to a family member, a friend or a stranger, egg donation is a life changing gift and you should feel 100% comfortable and happy about your decision.