Despite its provocative title (“Do Egg Donors Lie?“) this article was fair, but more interesting to me were the comments, which could not have been a clearer demonstration on how to separate the egg donation myth from the egg donation reality. Throughout, ignorant, typically negative comments from women who have only read or heard about egg donation are set straight by women who were egg donors or IVF patients themselves. Just about every woman who identified herself as a former egg donor had a positive experience.
There is apparently much confusion about how egg donors are selected, and what they go through once they are selected.
The egg donor screening process
You do not have to have a perfect family medical history with no illnesses at all in order to be accepted (that itself would arouse suspicion). You do have to be in excellent physical and mental health (free of genetic disease, not a smoker or drug user), and a normal body mass index (we use 27 as the BMI cut off). Egg donor agency directors review hundreds of applications and know how to sift out the promising applications from the not-so-promising. Much depends on individual judgment and the needs of the particular egg donation agency or clinic. A woman may be perfectly healthy and fertile but we may pass her by because we do not think we have a good match for her.
But the questionnaire is just the first step. We conduct interviews, take pictures, collect photo IDs and transcripts, run criminal background checks, do Google searches, etc. Once a candidate is selected by a recipient, the medical screening begins. She has blood drawn to test for medical and infectious diseases, has a drug screen, takes a written psychological exam, talks with a psychologist, and has a genetic consult. Any drug use, mental instability, infectious or genetic disease (even if she is only a carrier) would be revealed here. Maybe 2% of the general egg donor applicant pool make it to this stage.
The egg donation process
There are about 100,000 IVF cycles in the US every year (with women attempting to get pregnant using their own eggs) and about 10,000 egg donor cycles; with the exception of the embryo transfer at the very end, the process is exactly the same. So the procedure itself is no longer controversial and relatively routine, but not without any risk at all. Donors are well informed of the risks ahead of time, and most have no complications. Egg donation does not deplete a woman’s ovarian reserve, and does not render a woman infertile (geez, if it did, who would do it?).
Fresh donor egg transfers have a higher live birth rate than regular IVF cycles, so it is a very effective treatment for infertility. The egg donors I work with every day are warm, caring, honest women who want to help others, not con artists. The more you know about egg donation, the less shady it becomes.