In May 2020, U.S.News reported that "the number of babies born in the U.S. hit the lowest level in more than three decades in 2019, continuing a five-year downward trend, according to a new federal report."
It seems like what so far was a taboo topic has recently made its way to mainstream conversation and might even be trending. With infertility rates on the rise globally, sperm and egg donation are in high demand.
What is egg donation?
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) describes egg donation as, "the process of fertilizing eggs from a donor and transferring the resulting embryos to the recipient’s uterus."
What is sperm donation?
Sperm donation on the other hand, as described by Mayo Clinic, is a procedure in which a man donates semen — the fluid containing sperm that is released during ejaculation — to help an individual or a couple conceive a baby.
Donated sperm can be injected into a woman's reproductive organs (intrauterine insemination) or used to fertilize mature eggs in a lab (in vitro fertilization).
Both egg and sperm donation are two different types of third-party reproduction. However, the former is much more complicated than the latter and also more time-consuming and invasive.
Sperm donation is a relatively straightforward procedure, that does not require any prior medications or hormone injections and has no known side effects.
Egg donation comparatively is slightly more time-consuming and semi invasive. There are certain considerations one needs to weigh before making the decision to donate their eggs.
Why donate your eggs?
The larger good of helping out a family Most egg donors are motivated by the over-arching belief in helping a struggling individual or family out to conceive. The thought of being able to complete a family who otherwise would not have a shot at bringing a child into this world biologically is the primary driving force behind most egg donations. The compassion and selflessness required to carry out this noble gesture are far beyond the monetary and health benefits.
Financial Benefits Although the primary objective for most egg donors is the prospect of helping out a deserving family, it is worth noting that egg donors are compensated decently for their time, effort and dedication. It is not easy going through multiple medical appointments, procedures and medications, which is why egg donation comes with considerable financial benefits, including coverage of travel and legal expenses, if any. Compensation for egg donation can range anywhere between $5000-$15000 and the funds generated can be used for any immediate, pressing financial needs by the egg donor.
Insights into your own fertility
One huge positive of donating eggs comes in the form of free medical and genetic testing that allows the donors to gain insights into their own reproductive capability. The elaborate and comprehensive testing required as a part of egg donation gives the donor an opportunity to gauge their fertility potential and also an option to preserve their eggs, especially if they are repeat donors.
Short and safe procedure The process of egg donation undoubtedly takes a lot of time , consideration and planning however, the actual procedure in itself is fairly simple with little known risks. It does not involve any invasive surgery, as the eggs are retrieved using a fine needle inserted inside the vagina of the donor and is mostly an out patient procedure.
Things to ponder before donating your eggs
Health risks: Notwithstanding the many benefits and pro's of egg donation, the process does come with its fair share of risks, however small or negligible they may seem, that warrant some consideration. In very rare cases, around 0.1% that is, the donor might develop Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome OHSS as a result of ovarian stimulation that leads to an abnormally high production of eggs. This can cause swelling of the ovaries, abdominal pain, and fluid retention in the abdominal cavity until your next period.
Psychological stress The thought of not being able to be a part of the life of the child born as a result of your donation might be stressful to some. On the flipside, many donors fear being passively included in the entire process, since the donated eggs are transferred right away, allowing you to know whom the recipients would be. This is why many donors request strict anonymity in order to stay detached from the life of the Intended Parents as well as the future child.
High likelihood pregnancy The fertility drugs taken in order to stimulate the donor's ovaries result in an unusually larger production of eggs, essentially making her extra fertile. It is therefore advised to avoid intercourse during the course of your egg donation process in order to decrease the chances of an unexpected pregnancy.
Time and effort involved More than anything, the sheer amount of careful planning, time and commitment involved with egg donation is what makes the process slightly challenging. It is definitely not "easy money" contrary to what many would assume. The doctor visits, fertility drugs, hormone injections, and the procedure itself, are all factors that make egg donation a high-involvement and high-impact decision for the donor.
It requires tremendous amounts of courage, compassion and determination to complete the process however, for most the reward of helping build a family is worth all the blood, sweat and tears (quite literally).