Any advice for someone thinking of donating eggs?

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By: Klearchos KapoutsisCC BY 2.0
I am currently considering donating my eggs, and I’ve read up on the procedure and have done my research. I don’t know that my application will definitely be accepted, but I have a few questions I’m hoping the Offbeat community can help me with.

I want to be able to have kids of my own at some point, but biological children aren’t a possibility right now. IVF is incredibly expensive, and as much as we try, two ladies don’t exactly have the proper equipment for procreation. Fostering and/or adoption is definitely in the forseeable future, but that doesn’t stop my biological clock from ticking screaming that I would one day like to have kids of my own.

I know that potential difficulty conceiving in the future is one of the side effects of egg donation. I’m wondering: what advice do former egg donors have for someone who is considering donating? — Colleen

Comments on Any advice for someone thinking of donating eggs?

  1. I have donated 3 times before. I had one child before any of the donations, and they were spread about a year apart from each other, and I am now expecting my second child in about 2 weeks! There are risks of poor conception later from everything I read and was told, but also read those risks are small and I personally had no trouble conceiving afterwards. It’s been a couple of years since my last donation, tho. But I also haven’t seen anyone else I know have any troubles either. This is just my experience tho. I think donation can be a great thing! Good luck!

    • However, when I went thru with donation and knew of the risks, I prepared myself for the possibility of not being able to have more children the old fashioned way, just in case. I was ready to adopt if need be. So I would also make sure you are ok with never having your own, just in case you happen to be that small percentage that does have problems later on. It’s something to think about.

    • You should note that technically in Canada it is illegal to receive payment for egg donations due to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. However you can get reimbursed for expenses related to the procedure and there aren’t guidelines for what you can expense and what is reasonable amount to get reimbursed for. Just keep in mind that if you’re planning on doing this it may not be a way of paying off student debt and that if the law is enforced ( apparently its not and there is black market happening with sales and companies that can make “arrangements” between parents and donors) you could get fined or jail time.

  2. Your letter doesn’t make clear why using a sperm donor isn’t an option for you and your wife. Not that you owe an explanation or anything, but there’s pretty affordable middle ground before you get to IVF.

    • I think she was saying that she is concerned about donation causing infertility because then she would have to rely on IVF or adoption.

  3. I donated once a little over five years ago. I haven’t had any issues as a result, in fact, I gained a lot of really useful information out of it for myself. My family has a history of fertility issues, and donating gave me a chance to find out about my own fertility before we were ready to have kids. We have an 18 month old now.

    The shots were the scariest part for me, but I got past it pretty quick.

    7 eggs were retrieved, I wanted to do it again a couple of years later, but was told that I had not produced enough the first time to be accepted as a donor again.

    One thing I had to think long and hard about, knowing I wanted children down the road, was how I was going to feel if IVF worked out for the couple I was donating to. Can you reconcile that there might be a little human, or humans, genetically related to you that you have no tie with whatsoever? I was able to, but I think it’s something to think about, particularly if you think that a biological child feels important to you, but may not be in the cards.

    • Also, on the flip side, can you imagine the little humans genetically tied to you growing up and wanting to know who you are? I have some friends in closed adoptions who have done DNA tests and found their biological families, so even in a closed donor situation it’s not unheard of that an offspring comes and finds you one day as an adult.

  4. I donated my eggs twice in my very early 20’s (I’m 27 now, just about to be married with no kidlets) so I guess I don’t really know much about whether it’s affected my fertility. However, I love speaking to people who are interested in doing it, because it was incredibly rewarding, despite the fact that my donations were not the smoothest sailing.

    The first time I donated was with 35 eggs to a straight couple who I never met outright, but the donation was successful. In case you don’t know, donating that many eggs means I experienced OHSS (ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome), since you are only supposed to release 5-10 eggs during the procedure. However, I had zero ill effects, my eggs worked perfectly, and the couple sent me some incredibly thoughtful gifts (I had mentioned in my application that I would use the money offered me to travel to South East Asia, and they had just returned from their own trip to Cambodia and brought small trinkets for me) and a beautiful note about how I had made their dream of becoming parents come true. That beautiful letter alone was reason enough for me to want to do it again.

    So the next year, I decided to do it again, this time with a male gay couple who was using one of their sister’s as a surrogate (which is why they didn’t want to use her eggs). I was particularly excited about this donation because I wanted to support the growing movement that supported gay parenthood/adoption/marriage, and the prospective parents lived across the country, which meant I would get to take a little trip some place new for the final part of the procedure, which for a broke college student, is always a plus. The lead up to the final part went off without a hitch (needles really aren’t as scary when you are doing them to yourself I found) and when I took the plane out for the final part (where you are put under for 20 minutes and the eggs are extracted using a little tube), I was actually able to meet the two men and chat with them a bit. Just seeing how much they are looking forward towards children, particularly for people who, at that time, were receiving an incredible amount of backlash, really cemented my decision that I was doing the right thing. Plus, these guys were awesome! The people who choose your application do so because they make a real connection to who you are, and I felt confident that they would make great parents.

    However, I ended up releasing 35 eggs again, which gave me OHSS AGAIN. For the most part, I didn’t have any ill effects, but a few nights later while studying back at my dorm, I felt an INCREDIBLE stabbing pain in my ovarian area that nearly made me pass out. It was brief and fast but absolutely brutal. I had my bf at the time drive me to the hospital, but again, being the broke college student I was, we just sat in the parking lot while I contemplated if I could afford a $1000 hospital visit. The sharp pain had faded and didn’t come back, so after waiting an hour or so, we drove back to the school. That was the one and only negative physical effect I had from my OHSS.

    Jump forward 2 years and the company I had registered with called asking if I wanted to donate again, since I had a lot of interest in my application (cue massive ego stoke here: I had good genes! Attractive! Smart! People want to have my baby!) Enough time had passed since my last donation that I was really to give it another go, despite no word from the second couple. However, once I agreed to donate again, I received another call that said something had “gone wrong” with the second couple’s pregnancy, which disqualified me from donating with them again. I had to chase down the out of state doctor to find out what this was, and discovered that the eggs had taken but later in the pregnancy they discovered some indicators of down’s syndrome and had aborted.

    Now I’m totally pro-choice, and may have done the same in their situation, but was a bit peeved that no one had forwarded this information, or that they were leaning towards DS as hereditary. The doctor had actually used the words “bad eggs/bad baby” which REALLY got my goat. I’m not sure if the couple used some of my other eggs towards a successful pregnancy or if they decided to buy eggs from another donor, since the prospective parents dictate the terms of information you receive, so I’ll probably never know. I had opted for an “open donation” which means that any children that result from your eggs are allowed to receive information on you when they turn 18 (or before if the parent’s consent) but that’s not something I really have control over.

    My second donation definitely did not go as smoothly as the first, but I have zero regrets and still consider it to be an overall positive experience. I guess you have to think about what you are comfortable with, since you don’t have a lot of control over some aspects of the donation. I felt it was right for me because I had viable eggs that I wasn’t using, when others desperately wanted children but had to fight biology. I’m always interested in giving what I’m not using to those who want or need it, and in my mind, eggs are no different. To this day, I feel a twinge of guilt with every period, since I just “wasted” something another period so desires (could just be the hormones talking!).

    In terms of more self-serving reasons, I wanted to do my biological part (i.e. continue my genes) without actually having to have and care for a baby, which is something I am very on the fence about, leaning toward child-free. I feel this is in part to the fact that the pressure is totally off. I already have a kid(s) somewhere! They are well taken care for and with people who really REALLY wanted them! Jobs done! If the procedure ends up affecting my fertility, that is not something I would really mourn over and I went into this with eyes wide open about this fact. If you are from the states, the monetary benefits are also a major benefit. The substantial money I received helped me achieve my own dreams of traveling through Africa and South East Asia, where I met and fell in love with my fiancé, who I will marry soon and make my own little family with (two people, two dogs, maybe more, no pressure). For me it was rewarding on many levels, but you should certainly go into it with your eyes open, since there is a lot outside your control.

  5. If for some reason you need to do IVF to have your own biological children, do any clinics do egg sharing where you live? You do IVF and donate half your eggs in return for a reduced clinic fee. I know it’s common at private IVF clinics in the UK, anyway.

    No experience with the process, but I do think children conceived with donor gametes deserve to know about their biological origins, much as adopted children do. That any biological children of yours may want to know you (and any future kids) is something to consider now, especially if you’re taking a (small) risk with your own fertility by donating.

    • My partner and I did just this in the UK. I donated half my eggs anonymously, and the other half to my partner. Both she and the anonymous recipient are now six months pregnant with twins! I’m delighted with this outcome, but on the egg donation front, I feel happy to have helped someone start her own family.

      I would examine your motivations really carefully before donating. It sounds like you really want a family of your own, which egg donation of course won’t give you. There are many ways that a female couple can start a family together, and some of them (for instance, sperm donation you’ve organised yourself) can be far far more affordable than IVF. You don’t say much about your situation other than that your partner’s a woman, so it’s hard to know how to advise you, but I would advise, if you haven’t done so already, getting very well informed about the ins and outs of starting a family of your own before you consider egg donation too. I’m glad I donated my eggs, but I recommend coming to a very clear idea what you want and what you can do about that before you go down that road.

  6. I donated twice. I’m the last one on this branch of the family tree but am not even remotely Mom material, so it gave me an opportunity to sort of continue the line.

    Big stuff: If the place you donate through operates similarly I was at, you will be required to visit a psychologist/therapist as part of the screening process to make sure you are really and truly OK with the fact that you will never be involved with the child that comes from your eggs. That’s something to give some serious thought to beforehand, especially since you are feeling the urge for kidlets. You might never even know if it worked. If it does, there will be some child out there who carries your genetic material who you will never know, and who will never know you. Consider whether that will bother you.
    You need will to get medical info about your bio-family back to all four DNA-contributing grandparents, which for some people may be uncomfortable or difficult.
    Understand that there will be major screwing-around with your hormones.

    Little details: Unless you’re afraid of needles, the shots are more annoying than painful. You have to schedule your life such that you’re in an acceptable location every day at shot-time. Working the frequent appointments into your schedule can be a pain or no big deal depending on your flexibility. For women in M/F relationships: no PIV sex while you’re on the shots since any birth control failure would be very bad.

    A note for anyone reading this thread who is considering donating for the money: It’s a slow process, what with finding a match and getting synched up. It takes anywhere from a few months to a year.

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