If you have questions about being an egg donor, or what egg donation is like, we have the answers that will help you make your decision if you want to become an egg donor. Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation has been matching egg donors and intended parents for decades!
We spoke with Dr. Guy Ringler, Reproductive Endocrinologist from California Fertility Partners, and experienced egg donors and Egg Donation team at Circle Egg Donation, to get answers to the most-asked questions by women who are thinking about donating their eggs.
What is egg donation? What do egg donors do?
Egg donors are fertile young women who donate their eggs in order for others to create their families. Egg donors will commit to a 3-6 month journey, during which they will match with intended parents, take medications to prepare their bodies for an egg retrieval, undergo the egg retrieval, which is a quick 30 minute procedure.
Egg donors are amazing women who are selfless and desire to help others have the families they’ve always dreamed of.
Is it painful to be an egg donor?
The majority of women who do egg donations would tell you that it is not painful.
Dr. Ringler: “In the egg donation treatment process we give daily injections of follicle stimulating hormones, FSH, to develop all of the eggs that were recruited for that cycle. The injections are self administered just beneath the skin of the abdomen. The donor may feel a slight stinging sensation at the injection site with some localized swelling. As the ovaries respond to the hormones they make increasing amounts of estrogen, which can cause mild fluid retention and bloating.
Ovaries are exquisitely sensitive and one can become aware of them as they enlarge. We advise our donors to stop working out after 4-5 days of medication to avoid discomforts and possible twisting of the ovaries. The egg retrieval is performed under IV anesthesia while you are asleep. After the procedure you may have some cramping lower abdominal pain, which is usually relieved by oral medication. By the time of your next menstrual period you should feel back to normal and without discomfort.”
One experienced egg donor shared, “In my personal experience, egg donation wasn’t necessarily painful, but I was a bit uncomfortable and tender for a few days after the retrieval. Nothing that over-the-counter pain medication and a hot compress couldn’t handle!”
What disqualifies me from donating eggs?
Women who want to become egg donors must meet a list of requirements put forth by ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine). These requirements are in place to ensure a donor is not only healthy, but that she will have the best chance of responding to the IVF medications, and to help ensure as successful a retrieval as possible.
At Circle Egg Donation, our Egg Donor requirements are the following:
- Be between 21-29 years of age (up to 31 for experienced donors)
- Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) lower than 29
- Be a U.S. or Canadian citizen
- Have no more than one occurrence of the same cancer in family history (except non-genetic cancers, such as leukemia and lung)
- Have family history with no serious heart disease or heart attacks under age 55
- Not have psychiatric hospitalizations
- Have some education after high school i.e. enrolled in college, college classes, certification programs, bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, PhD, etc. If you have questions about what qualifies for advanced educated, please email us
- Be of any ethnic and racial background
- Be comfortable with giving yourself daily injections with small needles, like those used for insulin
Dr. Ringler: “Women who are older or younger, have an unhealthy lifestyle are not acceptable candidates. Women who smoke cigarettes or use recreational drugs are not accepted. Other historical factors that can disqualify a woman from donating eggs include a history of untreated sexually transmitted diseases, a history of infertility themselves, and women with inheritable genetic diseases.
The treatment process involves serial medical appointments for blood tests and pelvic ultrasounds to assess the development of follicles. Young women who cannot arrange transportation to the clinic for these appointments or the surgical procedure cannot become egg donors.
Our goal is to optimize egg quantity and quality during the treatment process to provide our egg recipients the highest chance for a successful pregnancy. Egg donors with low ovarian reserve or with a history of producing eggs of low quality in a prior donation cycle will likely be disqualified from donating.”
How much do you get paid for donating eggs?
At Circle Egg Donation, first time donors receive a fee of $9,000. With each successful donation cycle, a donor is given the opportunity to raise her request fee. On average, we see that most donors raise their fee $1,000 – $2,000 with each subsequent cycle. Donors set their own fees and they receive the full fee in its entirety.
Does donating my eggs affect my fertility?/Can I still have a baby if I donate my eggs?
In a typical month, a woman produces many follicles but only one egg will likely mature and be released for fertilization. However, as an egg donor, you will be taking medications in hopes to mature all follicles you naturally produce in a cycle.
Dr. Ringler: “The hormone injections will stimulate the development of all the follicles/eggs that you have recruited for the cycle. It cannot take follicles from other months. We surgically recover all of the eggs that have developed for that month only and therefore this procedure will not deplete you of eggs prematurely. Egg donation has been available for the past twenty-five years and studies have not shown any adverse impact on a woman’s future fertility.”
What are the risks to donating my eggs?
Dr. Ringler: “The overall risks to egg donation are quite low. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome can occur if a woman makes “too many eggs” and has a very high estrogen level. The incidence is 1-2% of treatment cycles and generally resolves spontaneously over the course of 5-7 days. More serious complications such as excessive bleeding requiring intervention or twisting of the ovaries occur in less than 1 in 3000 cases. The most common side effects are bloating, fluid retention, and some pelvic cramping pain after the procedure. We provide pain medication for after the procedure to minimize discomfort afterwards.”
What types of medications do I take?
The IVF doctor will determine your medication protocol. Medications are given to suppress the menstrual cycle, and ovarian stimulating medications are given to stimulate the production of eggs. Most of these medications are injections that are self-administered for two-four weeks (this can vary) until the egg retrieval. Examples of these medications include birth control pills, Lupron, Ganirelix, Follistim, Gonal-F, Menopur and HCG. These may be used in different combinations depending on the clinic and physician, and some of the medications are known by various names.
Dr. Ringler: “During the natural menstrual cycle, the ovaries are driven by pulsatile releases of follicle stimulating hormone and luteinizing hormone by the pituitary. These hormones synchronize the development and release of one egg per month and the other recruited follicles/eggs disappear. In egg donation and IVF cycles, we give daily injections of these same hormones, which push the entire group of follicles to develop rather than just a single egg. An additional medication is given halfway through the protocol to prevent spontaneous release of the eggs prior to the retrieval procedure. Just prior to the surgery, an injection is given to stimulate the final maturity of the DNA of the eggs.”
Will I do my egg donation near me?
Here at Circle Egg Donation, we facilitate mutual matches. This means Intended Parents (the recipients of the donation) choose a donor out of our database, and we coordinate that donation cycle with the clinic of the IPs’ choosing. Egg donors will be required to travel to the intended parents’ clinic for their medical screening as well as the egg retrieval. Because we work with intended parents from all over the world and clinics all over the US, we cannot guarantee that you will be selected by IPs working with a clinic near you. However, your local monitoring done before the egg retrieval will be done at a clinic near where you live.
How long does egg donation take?
The egg donation process from the day you match with intended parents until your egg retrieval can take place is around 1-3 months. The cycle itself is about 2 weeks long, which consists of daily injections, several appointments, and ends with the egg retrieval procedure. The egg retrieval itself is about a 30 minute long procedure.
Why do women donate their eggs?
Women choose to become egg donors for a variety of reasons, with a primary focus on wanting to help others achieve their goal of building a family! Some donors may have been motivated to donate through others who have donated, or have seen their loved ones struggle with IVF, or who are close with someone who is in the LGBTQ+ community, who will also need to consider alternative reproduction should they choose to grow a family too. Some donors also see egg donation as an opportunity to benefit the community while earning compensation that can be applied to student loans, mortgage deposits, etc.
Choosing an egg donation agency.
Giving the gift of parenthood to someone else is a selfless and loving act. Egg donors have the option of donating their eggs with an egg bank, or with an egg donation agency. At an egg bank, the donor makes her donation, and does not meet with the parents who are receiving her eggs.
One of the benefits of finding an egg donor agency is that egg donors and intended parents mutually decide on their match. Egg donors are able to learn about the individual or couple who will be receiving their eggs, and have the opportunity to choose the type of egg donation they prefer: Known, Semi-Known or Anonymous.
If you’d like to apply to be an egg donor, you can start by answering some questions and an experienced egg donor on our team will reach out shortly.
Guy Ringler MD, Partner of California Fertility Partners. Dr. Ringler is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and reproductive endocrinology and Infertility. Dr. Ringler was one of the world’s first physicians to help gay men have babies through egg donation and surrogacy. He is committed to helping all members of the LGBTQ community fulfill their dreams of having children and building families.