How Much Are My Eggs Worth? What To Know Before You Donate
A few years ago, a family member who was having difficulty conceiving with her husband asked if I would consider donating my eggs. She offered to pay for all the medical expenses, stressing how much this would mean for her and the family; and I was forced to ask myself: how much are my eggs worth? The question is not purely financial — but a psychological and emotional one as well. After hanging up the phone and taking a deep breath, a quick Google search informed me that while friends and family often donate their eggs “for free,” women can earn thousands on a single cycle. Donors are paid regardless of whether their eggs lead to a successful birth, and there is no cap on how many times one can donate (though six is the recommended limit).
It seems impossible to put a price on such a priceless gift, and compensation varies greatly. There are no legal restrictions on how much a woman can be paid for her eggs. The only strict recommendation was established in the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s ethical guidelines published in 2007. It stated, “Total payments to donors in excess of $5,000 require justification and sums above $10,000 are not appropriate.”
This industry guideline was challenged in a class action lawsuit claiming that the language violated federal antitrust laws and constituted as price-fixing in a high-demand market. The case was settled in February 2016, and the leading association of fertility specialists (of which 90 percent of the U.S. clinics are members) removed all language concerning price caps for egg donations from their guidelines.
A variety of factors can influence how much an egg donor is compensated. The New York Times reports that as of last year “most first-time donors in California, New York and Chicago are paid $4,000 to $7,000, more than in other parts of the country.” Women who have donated before are usually paid a higher rate — especially if one of their previous eggs produced results.
In a competitive market where assisted reproductive technology is booming, college-educated and Ivy League graduates are targeted with ads offering a large lump sum for their intelligent offspring. Advertisements appearing on Facebook or run through college newspapers have offered up to $50,000 for extraordinary candidates. Some prospective parents working through donor agencies or boutique fertility clinics are willing to pay big bucks for a donor of a specific religion, heritage, or with high SAT scores. One such agency, A Perfect Match, told The New York Times that a first-time Asian donor could expect to earn between $10,000 and $25,000, and a repeat donor could get as much as $50,000.
These lofty amounts may sound tantalizing (especially for paying off all those student loans), but there are risks involved with the procedure. The process, which usually takes six weeks once the donor’s cycle begins, can be time consuming and uncomfortable. Health risks involve Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome, extreme bloating, weight gain, and moodiness. High doses of hormones are taken so that the donor develops multiple eggs over a single cycle. Donors must give themselves daily injections of medications and brave frequent doctors appointments — so it is not for the faint of heart.
Ultimately, the price on an egg is subjective. It is the donor’s decision as to how much her egg is worth. A few months after the uncomfortable phone call, my family member became pregnant through IVF using one of her own eggs. She gave birth to a baby boy and I can’t wait to meet him.
Egg Donors Eligibility Quiz
Can we contact you?
Have you ever been pregnant before?
Do you have children?
Do You want to become an egg donor?
Are you between the age 18 and 35?
Have you injected drugs for a non-medical reason in the preceding five years, including intravenous, intramuscular, or subcutaneous injections? (*)
Do you have hemophilia. If yes, do you use human-derived clotting factor? (*)
Have you engaged in sex in exchange for money or drugs in the preceding five years? (*)
Have you had sex in the preceding 12 months with any person described in the previous 4 items of this section or with any person known or suspected to have HIV infection, clinically active hepatitis B infection, or hepatitis C infection? (*)
Have you been exposed in the preceding 12 months to known or suspected HIV, HBV, and /or HCV – infected blood through percutaneous inoculation (e.g., needle-stick) or through contact with an open wound, non-intact skin, or mucous membrane? (*)
Have you been incarcerated for more than 72 consecutive hours during the previous 12 months? (*)
Have you had close contact within 12 months preceding donation with another person having clinically active viral hepatitis (e.g., living in the same household, where sharing of kitchen and bathroom facilities occurs regularly)? (*)
Have you had a tattoo, ear piercing, or body piercing in the last 12 months in which instruments were shared? (*)
Have you been diagnosed with viral hepatitis after age 11? Unless evidence from the time of illness documents that the hepatitis was identified as hepatitis (e.g., a reactive IgM anti-HAV test)? (*)
Have you had a recent smallpox vaccination (vaccinia virus) in the last 60 days? (*)
If less than 60 days did the scab separate by some other means than spontaneously?
Do you have a clinically recognizable vaccinia virus infection contracted by close contact with someone who received the smallpox vaccine? The Physical assessment should also check for this. (*)
Have you had a medical diagnosis of WNV infection? (*)
Have you had both a fever and a headache (simultaneously) during the 7 days prior to donation? (*)
Are you or any close contacts a xenotransplantation product recipient? Have you, your sexual partner, or any member of his/her household ever had a transplant or other medical procedure that involved being exposed to live cells, tissues, or organs from an animal? (*)
Have you had a transfusion or received blood or blood products in the last 48hrs? (*)
Have you been diagnosed with or treated for Chlamydia? (*)
Have you been diagnosed with or treated for Gonorrhea? (*)
Have you ever been diagnosis with vCJD or any other form of CJD? (*)
Have you ever had a diagnosis of dementia or any degenerative or demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS) or other neurological disease of unknown etiology? (*)
Have you ever received a dura mater transplant? (*)
Have you ever taken human pituitary-derived growth hormone? (*)
Have you ever had a blood relative diagnosed with CJD? (*)
Have you spent three months or more cumulatively in the UK from the beginning of 1980 through the end of 1996? (*)