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FAQ for Egg Donors


 

Egg Donor Requirements and Egg Donation Process FAQ

Medically reviewed by Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS - Written by CHR Staff - Updated on Dec 10, 2020

Becoming an egg donor is a big decision and commitment. As you think about this opportunity, it is important for you to fully understand our egg donor requirements, the egg donation process, and your responsibilities as an egg donor.

Egg Donor Application and Screening

Before everything else can happen, potential egg donors must apply to our egg donation program and then go through an initial screening process and two rounds of interviews (one with our clinical coordinators and another with our physicians). You will see a doctor for a physical exam, a health history, a family history, and some testing. Only the donor applicants who pass all these screening steps will be added to our egg donor program, and can be matched with a recipient couple. CHR's egg donor program is very selective: on average, we accept only about 1-3% of applicants to our donor program.

Step 1: Egg Donor Matching

When intended parents decide to use donor eggs, they can view the pre-screened pool of egg donors online and select a candidate. A tentative donor egg match is made when a recipient decides to move forward with a specific donor. Our IVF coordinator will contact the egg donor to confirm her availability. If the egg donor is available for the recipient's desired time frame, and passes an FDA-required round of testing, an official match is made. Some donors are selected and matched to a recipient very quickly after they apply; others may take months or years before they are selected; still others may never be selected.

Step 2: Suppression and Ovarian Stimulation for the Egg Donor

The egg donor will self-administer daily injections of a medication called Lupron to suppress her natural cycle, so that her and the recipient's cycles are synchronized. During the ovarian stimulation phase, the egg donor uses daily injections of gonadotropin to stimulate her ovaries. In a natural cycle, only one egg matures; gonadotropins injections encourage more than one egg to mature for retrieval.

During ovarian stimulation, the egg donors are monitored closely through blood tests and ultrasound, ensuring that the ovaries are responding well and not going into hyperstimulation. This means that egg donors need to visit our center in the Upper East Side of Manhattan frequently during this phase. (Long-distance donors go to collaborating IVF centers that are local to them.) These monitoring sessions are scheduled in early morning in order to avoid interfering with the donors' daily schedule of school and work.

Step 3: Endometrial Lining Development for the Donor Egg Recipient

On the recipient's side, a favorable uterine environment, especially an endometrium of at least 7 mm, is crucial in the success of a donor egg cycle. While the egg donor develops eggs for retrieval, the recipient takes estrogen and progesterone to prepare her endometrial lining for implantation. Developing the endometrium for embryo transfer is usually not a problem.

In rare cases, some patients have difficulties in reaching minimal endometrial thickness and may require special treatments. Fortunately, CHR has demonstrated special expertise in this area. Some patients with autoimmune abnormalities may use additional medications to improve the chance of implantation.

Step 4: Triggering Ovulation and Egg Retrieval for the Egg Donor

When the ultrasound imaging shows that the donor's eggs have sufficiently developed, the donor will be instructed to trigger ovulation with an injection of hCG. Two days later, her eggs are retrieved in a short in-office procedure, called egg retrieval. While the donor is asleep (under IV sedation), one of our physicians will use an aspiration needle, guided by ultrasound, to transvaginally retrieve the eggs. The donor will be required to take the rest of the day off to recover.

Long-distance donors who are from another part of the United States will be required to travel to our center in New York City for 3 nights and 2 days for egg retrieval. (Travel costs will be covered.)

Step 5: Fertilization and Embryo Transfer for the Recipient

The retrieved eggs are fertilized with partner's or a donor's sperm. This part of the process is the same as IVF. If using fresh sperm, the partner will need to visit CHR to produce a sample at this time. The embryos that result from this fertilization are incubated and graded. Normally, embryos are transferred into the recipient's uterus on day 3 after donor egg retrieval (on rare occasions on day 5). For our recipients working with our center's egg donor program from outside the NYC metro area, this is the only time they need to be in NYC for the entire cycle. The rest can be managed locally.

Step 6: Post-Retrieval Checkup for the Donor and Pregnancy Tests for the Recipient

The donor will be required to return to our center for a post-retrieval checkup, so that we can make sure that the donor is recovering properly from both the ovarian stimulation and retrieval. In most cases, donors have no problem returning to normal in a day or two after egg retrieval. If this is not the case, our clinical team will closely monitor the donor's progress and stay in touch with her until she fully recovers. From the start of the Lupron injections to egg retrieval, egg donation is a 3-5 week process for most egg donors.

Recipients will have a pregnancy test two weeks after the embryo transfer, via a blood test that measures the level of hCG. After two normally rising hCG tests and an ultrasound demonstrating a pregnancy, recipients are "discharged" to their obstetricians for prenatal care.

Frozen Donor Egg Program (EcoDEP)

CHR also offers a frozen donor egg program called Eco Donor Egg Program (EcoDEP), in which a recipient receives eggs from a donor who has already undergone ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval by the time the recipient chooses her donor. This means that EcoDEP has a different "workflow" from the standard egg donor program described here.

Frequently Asked Questions About Our Standard Egg Donation Program

Egg Donation Logistics

 How much will I get paid to donate my eggs?

Our current egg donation compensation for your time, commitment and services is $8,000 on average for a completed egg donor cycle (i.e. retrieval of eggs). You can earn up to $14,000 depending on your qualifications and the number of eggs you produce. If your cycle is canceled due to no fault of your own, the financial compensation is $1,000.

 How old do I have to be to donate my eggs?

We require our local NYC egg donors to be between the ages of 21 to 34 years of age, though exceptions are occasionally made for young women between ages 18 and 21 and women ages 34 to 35. For donors who will have to travel to NYC (i.e., those who live outside of the NYC metropolitan area), our age requirement is between 21 and 29.

 Do I have to live in New York City to be an egg donor at CHR?

No. We accept egg donors from all over the United States, as long as you are willing and able to travel to our center in New York City for egg retrieval. However, we cannot work with donors from outside the United States. Prospective long-distance egg donors will need to complete preliminary blood work at a local laboratory after successfully passing the application process. All follow-up medical appointments and testing take place locally until egg retrieval in New York City. For more information, visit our long-distance donor applicants page.

 Do I need a social security number to donate eggs?

In general, we require all donors to have a social security number or a valid work permit. However, if you do not have a social security number or a work permit, there are two options:

  • For a donor who has spent more than 31 days over the last year, or over 183 days over the last 3 years, in the United States, CHR will withhold 28% of the donor compensation, to be remitted as taxes to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), in accordance with the “substantial presence test” of the federal tax laws.1
  • For a donor who has spent less time than above in the U.S., CHR will withhold 30% of the donor compensation, to be remitted as taxes to the IRS, in accordance with federal tax laws. In either of the two cases above, you may file a tax return with the IRS later to receive a reimbursement of a part or the whole of the withheld taxes.
 How can I maximize my earning as an egg donor?

The number of eggs you produce in your egg donation cycle largely determines your egg donor compensation. Following your clinical coordinator's instructions regarding how to use the medications and when to administer your injections will ensure that a good number of eggs develop. Donors who have donated successfully will earn more in future donations in our program, as do donors whose eggs are designated as being in "high demand." For more information about how our egg donation program's donor compensation works, please see the egg donation fee & compensation page.

 

The Egg Donation Process

 How long does it take until I can donate my eggs?

It depends. After you complete your egg donor application, it typically takes a month or so for you to complete the interviews and preliminary testing. After that, whether and when you are matched with a recipient depends on what kind of egg donors our center's patients are looking for at that time. Some donors may never be matched; other donors are matched almost immediately after they join our egg donor program.

 Are there things I can do to maximize my chance of being selected as an egg donor?

Yes! Recipients of eggs are often looking for the sense of connection with egg donors--they want to feel like they know their donor at some level, even though our egg donor program is designed to be anonymous. When completing your egg donor application, you can try to give recipients the sense of who you are, by describing your personality, your interests, your skills and accomplishments, your general approach to life, your ambition and so on. A few good photos--or even better, a short video--that show your face and body clearly are also crucial.

 What medical testing is required to become an egg donor?

The FDA requires a specific medical screening process for egg donation.2
You will need to have:

  • A mental health screening and psychological evaluation
  • Blood tests for hormone levels, infectious disease, and drug screening
  • Tests for sexually transmitted infections

During the physician appointment, you will have a physical exam and the doctor will take a medical history and family history (what medical issues are experienced by a close family member or family members). The doctor may also use a BMI calculator to determine your BMI as part of the exam.

 How long does the egg donation process take?

The egg donation process from treatment start to retrieval takes 3-5 weeks, or approximately one month. The egg retrieval itself takes minutes (we explain egg retrieval further down the page).

 What is involved with taking fertility medications?

The medications you will need to take are injectables. You will be giving yourself injections one time per day for the first two weeks of the egg donation process and two times per day for the second two weeks. CHR's clinical coordinators will teach you how to self-inject safely and are available 24 hours a day to answer any questions.

During this phase, you will have frequent office visits to monitor your progress. When our physicians determine that your eggs are ready for ovulation, you will trigger ovulation with a different type of injection, and egg retrieval is performed on the next day.
Fertility medications during the egg donation cycle will include:

  • Daily injections of Lupron® for 2-6 weeks.
  • One or two daily injections of gonadotropins to stimulate your ovaries to produce more than one egg.
  • One injection of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) to help mature the eggs and prepare them for egg retrieval.
  • Possible use of antibiotics, taken orally to prevent infection.

Egg donors will be responsible for taking the above medications and any other medication, as instructed by the fertility specialist team.

You will need to refrain from the use of all recreational drugs and report any prescriptions or non-prescription drug use to the egg donor coordinator.

 How will egg donation affect my personal lifestyle?

Once on fertility drugs, you need to ensure that you have only protected sexual intercourse for that month as well as the month following egg donation. You will also need to notify us if you engage in intercourse with a new partner. From start to finish, you will generally have 10-12 doctor visits; the majority of these visits occur during the two weeks prior to egg retrieval. You will be responsible for keeping all appointments for doctor visits, including vaginal ultrasounds and laboratory tests. As these visits take place early in the morning, it is recommended that you live in or near New York, NY, where CHR is located. Donors living outside of the NYC metropolitan area can have these visits at a local IVF center, but will be required to travel for 3 nights at the end of their donation cycle.

 Can I use birth control during the egg donation cycle?

You cannot use any form of hormonal birth control during egg donation. This means that the following birth control methods cannot be used: birth control pill, implant, hormonal IUD, or Depo Provera injection. It is important to either abstain from intercourse during the cycle, or use a non-hormonal method (such as condoms or a diaphragm).

 

Egg Retrieval

 Will I be put under general anesthesia for egg retrieval?

We use intravenous (IV) sedation, which is administered by an anesthesiologist. Occasionally, you may experience short-term side effects, such as nausea, vomiting, sleepiness. Therefore, we instruct you to rest for 24 hours after egg donation. You are also required to be picked up by somebody after the egg donation and must not drive for 24 hours.

 How does egg retrieval work?

We perform oocyte aspiration via a needle placed in your ovaries, using transvaginal ultrasound guided techniques.

 How many eggs does the average donor produce?

Egg production depends on the individual and how they respond to the medication; the number of eggs produced by a donor can be as low as 5 and as high as 35 or more. You will be committed to donating all your retrieved oocytes (eggs) to a recipient who will be matched with you at the beginning of the cycle. This means that you will relinquish any claim to all oocytes (eggs) and/or offspring that may result from the use of your eggs for in-vitro fertilization at the time of egg retrieval. You may be matched to more than one recipient in a given cycle. The consent form that you will be required to sign is provided here (Egg Donor Informed Consent Form) for your convenience.

 Will I experience a lot of pain or bleeding after egg retrieval?

No. You may experience some discomfort similar to menstrual cramps. You may also have bloating, spotting and abdominal cramping, but usually not a lot of pain. CHR's clinical coordinators can help you with pain, if it does bother you.

 How long will I have to be away from work or school after the egg retrieval?

We recommend modified bed rest at home for 24 hours after egg donation. For donors who need to travel to NYC for egg retrieval, we will require 3 nights and 2 days in NYC. (Travel costs will be covered by us.)

 How long will it take for my body to return to normal after egg retrieval?

You should anticipate a menstrual period within 10 days after you donate. Following the next menstrual cycle, your body should be back to normal. You will need to return to CHR for a post-retrieval checkup to make sure that you are recovering normally.

 

Side Effects and Risks

 What egg donation side effects will I experience (if any) from taking fertility medications?

Most egg donors go through the process with no side effects; however, some may feel bloating, weight gain, pelvic discomfort or moodiness.

 What are some of the medical risks or other medical complications that may occur if I donate my eggs?

Egg retrieval is always performed under ultrasound guidance. However, there is always a risk that a needle may puncture surrounding tissue or organs causing injury, bleeding and/or infection. There is also a small risk (less than 5%) of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).3 During ovarian hyperstimulation, the ovaries become enlarged and fluid may collect in the abdominal cavity causing bloating, a weight gain of 5-10 pounds, and severe pelvic pain. Hospitalization may be required if ovarian hyperstimulation progresses to a severe state. In addition, certain studies have suggested that some ovulation drugs are associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer; research in this area is ongoing, however, and more recent data refutes such a risk.
An insurance policy will be taken out in your name (at no cost to you) to mitigate the financial risk of any unexpected complications or hospitalization as a result of your participation in this program.

 

After Egg Donation

 Will I be more or less fertile after egg donation?

You will be more fertile in the month following egg donation. After one month, you will return to your normal fertility status.

 How does egg donation affect my fertility in the future?

Egg donation does not have any long-term effects on your fertility.

 Will the couple who receives my eggs ever find out who I am?

If you sign up for the anonymous egg donation process, the couple that receives your donated eggs will not find out from us who you are. They will know characteristics about you, but we will not give them your name or any other information that could lead to your identification. With that said, given the quick evolution of facial recognition technology and direct-to-consumer genetic testing services, there is a non-negligible chance that you will be identified at some point in the future. We explain this possibility in the informed consent for our egg donors.

 If you donate your eggs, can you still have babies?

Yes. The egg donation process has no effect on a woman's future ability to get pregnant. If you are interested in egg freezing, please discuss this with your clinical coordinator. (Egg freezing is a fertility preservation method where your eggs are stored in an egg bank until you are ready to use them at a later age.)

 

Egg Donor Selection

 How often can I donate?

We allow up to six donations, each at least three months apart. This corresponds with the committee opinion of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM).4

 Can I donate eggs?

If you're a woman between the ages of 21 and 29, in good health, a non-smoker, and are able to commit to our program requirements, we welcome you to apply for this opportunity to help others! CHR has one of the most selective egg donation programs in the country, as well as one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse. Review and fill out our online application questionnaire here to get started.

 Who will receive my donated eggs?

You'll be giving the only realistic chance of getting pregnant and carrying the baby to a woman who, in most cases, has struggled with infertility for a long time. Women and couples who opt for egg donation typically cannot get pregnant naturally or through in vitro fertilization with their own eggs. When a woman cannot conceive but is able to carry a baby, she does not require surrogacy. In these cases, donor egg IVF is a highly effective fertility treatment option.

 What are the most common egg donation disqualifications?

CHR's egg donation program is very selective, which means that many applicants wanting to donate eggs eventually don't qualify for our program for physiological, psychological and/or social reasons. It can sting to be “rejected” by an egg donation program, but please know that we maintain this rigorous donor selection process to ensure safety for donors and highest possible success for recipients.

Some of the health history disqualifiers for potential egg donors include inheritable genetic disorders, infectious diseases and behaviors that can increase the risks of infectious diseases, reproductive system disorders, substance abuse disorders, as well as inability to commit to CHR's program responsibilities for donors. This egg donor disqualification list is in no way comprehensive -- we take a holistic look at the entire egg donor application from each candidate in deciding which applicant to bring to the next step.

Interested in donating your eggs? Apply Online

 

Norbert Gleicher, MD

Norbert Gleicher, MD, FACOG, FACS

Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned specialist in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.

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