What Is the Egg Donation Process? A Guide for Prospective Egg Donors

Becoming and egg donor

Women who donate their eggs are caring and giving, and want to help others who struggle to get pregnant on their own. Egg donation is a scientific procedure that is relatively painless, and has huge rewards both emotionally and financially.

If you’re considering becoming an egg donor, this blog post will answer basic questions about the egg donation process, what to expect when you donate your eggs, where you can donate your eggs, egg donor pay, and more.

What Is Egg Donation?

Egg donation involves a young, healthy woman who donates her eggs so that others can create embryos to become pregnant and have a baby. Prospective parents who use donor eggs are couples who experienced infertility, intended mothers who have a genetic defect or previous medical condition, and LGBTQ+ individuals or couples.

Once donated, the eggs are fertilized through IVF, and the resulting embryos are transferred into either a gestational surrogate or the intended mother.

What Is a Human Egg?

Let’s start with the basics. The human egg is the female reproductive cell and can also be referred to as an ovum (or ova if plural). When in the womb, it’s estimated that a female fetus can have up to 7 million eggs! At birth, that number goes down to about 1 to 2 million, and by the time of puberty, it’s down to about 300,000.

These are the oocytes, or immature eggs. About 500 of these eggs will generally be released over the course of a woman’s lifetime. During the menstrual cycle, 15 to 20 of the oocytes are matured inside the ovaries and 1 (or 2 in the case of fraternal twins) is released at the time of ovulation. If the egg is not fertilized, it’s released and dissolves, being shed along with the uterine lining—thus continuing the menstrual cycle.

What Are Egg Donor Requirements?

Women considering egg donation must meet certain physical, health, geographic, and educational requirements. These requirements are put in place not to judge you or pry into your life, but instead to ensure that you are the right candidate for egg donation and that it is safe for you.

Here are some basic requirements an egg donor should meet:

  • Be between 21-29 years of age
  • Have a Body Mass Index (BMI) lower than 29
  • Be a U.S. or Canadian citizen
  • Have a healthy personal and family medical history
  • Be comfortable giving herself injections

For a full list of egg donor requirements, you can visit our website.

What Can I Expect During the Egg Donation Process?

The egg donation process involves:

  • Completing an application to egg donor agencies
  • Matching with intended parents
  • Participating in psychological screening
  • Completing legal and consent paperwork
  • Going through the medical process, ending with the retrieval of the eggs

During the medical process, the donor undergoes “controlled ovarian hyperstimulation.” This is where the donor is given medications so that they can produce up to 30 matured eggs. Retrieval is done vaginally with a catheter while the donor is sedated. After the eggs are retrieved, they are mixed with sperm and fertilized in a laboratory setting, a process called in vitro fertilization (IVF). You can learn more about IVF from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

The resultant embryos are then transferred to the woman who will be bringing the child to term—whether this is the intended mother or a gestational surrogate.

Egg Bank vs Egg Donation Agency: What’s the Difference?

An egg bank is where a woman who wishes to donate her eggs can go, be medically screened and—if approved—can begin medications for egg retrieval. After her eggs are retrieved, she will be paid, and her eggs will be frozen until someone (or multiple someones) is interested in purchasing her eggs to create embryos. A woman can donate her eggs to an egg bank without having a specific recipient waiting for her eggs. With an egg bank, egg donors have more control over when they donate their eggs, and the timeline is usually faster since she is not waiting to match with intended parents (egg recipients).

With an egg donation agency, the egg donor will apply to be accepted as an egg donor with the agency and will be added to the egg donor database to match with hopeful intended parents. With some egg donation agencies such as Circle Surrogacy, when an egg donor is chosen by intended parents, both parties must “mutually match,” meaning the egg donor has a say in who the recipient of her eggs will be.

Known Egg Donation

When working with an agency, the egg donor also has a choice if she would like to be known with the family and even potentially meet them and get updates about any child(ren) born from her donation. Although we offer anonymous and semi-anonymous donations, we encourage known egg donation. Not only does this allow updates on the egg donor’s medical history, but we believe it’s important to a child’s sense of identity to know their roots. You can learn more about the benefits of known egg donation in our related blog post.

Should I Choose the Highest Paying Egg Donation Agency?

Like some things in life, just because there’s a higher price tag doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for you. Potential egg donors should evaluate egg donation agencies and what they offer as a whole, instead of just how much they may get paid.

Egg Donation Agency Experience

Working with an experienced egg donation agency can help ensure a smoother, more successful journey. Egg donors will be supported by a team of professionals who will help coordinate their egg donation journey, answer their questions, and be a resource should anything come up. An experienced agency like Circle Surrogacy will coordinate your travel and local monitoring appointments and be your advocate.

Egg Donor Pay

Egg donors who partner with agencies are paid by the intended parents who are interested in matching with them, not by the agency. Egg banks and egg donation agencies looking for egg donors may advertise large payment amounts; however, be sure to read the fine print and ask questions! Is the egg donor pay that is advertised for one egg donation? Or is it a cumulative amount if you donate multiple times? 

Egg donors who donate multiple times will generally receive higher compensation with each donation. This is because she is a “proven egg donor”—she has done an egg retrieval cycle that was successful in retrieving a large number of eggs. So how much should a first-time egg donor look to be paid? On average, first-time egg donor pay is about $9,000 for their donation, and that will increase if she should choose to make egg donations after that.

Finding Egg Donation Near Me

You can be an egg donor and live in any city in the United States! Egg donor retrievals are done at fertility clinics. Women who wish to donate their eggs with an egg bank may be able to visit a clinic close to where they live to do their donation, while others may have to travel. Women who choose to donate with an egg donation agency will likely have to travel to their intended parents’ clinic (which will be in the U.S.). Women use these short trips to travel and see other parts of the country (travel expenses paid are paid by the intended parents).

Is there a benefit to doing egg donation near where you live? If you are looking to stay local, then yes. If you are open to traveling, then we say go for it—and enjoy the journey!

If you’d like to see if you qualify to be an egg donor, fill out our application. Or visit our website to learn more about what it means to be an egg donor. If you’re interested in egg donation, but still have questions, you can read answers to our frequently asked questions from egg donors.