Egg donation is an incredible way for women to help others fulfill their dreams of parenthood — but you might be wondering, what does “egg donation” actually mean? The process involves several steps, and it’s important to have a rock-solid understanding of what’s involved before moving forward with donating your eggs.
In this article, we’ll explore the intricacies of egg donation, why women choose to donate their eggs, dispel common myths about egg donation, and share more about how the Cofertility Split program is a unique approach to egg donation.
How egg donation works
Egg donation is a medical process in which a woman provides her eggs to assist another individual or couple in conceiving a child. This process can be a beacon of hope for those struggling with infertility, same-sex couples, or individuals who cannot use their eggs for various medical reasons, like cancer survivors.
The egg donation process, step-by-step
Screening and matching
As a first step, if you’re interested in donating your eggs, you can apply to Freeze by Co’s programs by answering a few quick questions about yourself. If you qualify, you’ll move on to the full application where you’ll provide some information about your family medical history, genetic background, and motivations for going through the process.
Once you’ve been accepted into Freeze by Co’s Split program — where you can freeze your eggs for free when you donate half of the eggs retrieved to another family who can’t conceive — you’ll immediately join our member community, where you can connect with others at the exact same point in the process, lean on each other, and learn from one another.
As you await your intended parent match, you’ll undergo some bloodwork at a local lab to get an idea of your potential ovarian reserve (or egg count) ahead of time. This helps give everyone the confidence that you’ll get enough eggs to share. Once you match with an intended parent, you’ll then undergo in-person medical and psych testing before moving on to legal contracts, your stimulation cycle, and retrieval.
Donating eggs is a big deal, and not to be taken lightly on either end — so these first screening steps are incredibly important!
Once you’ve entered into a match with intended parents and you’ve passed your initial physical screening, you will enter into a legal agreement with the intended parents. This document will lay out all specifics regarding your and the intended parents’ rights throughout the process. Specifically, it will note that by donating your eggs, you waive all rights to those eggs and are not considered the parent of any resulting embryos or children.
This contract also provides the opportunity to put into writing your preferences around disclosure and communication, and intended parents will do the same. Ultimately, this is a vital step throughout the process — and at Cofertility, we provide members of our Split program legal counsel to ensure they are represented fairly.
Stimulation and retrieval
Once you’ve been given the green light, you’ll begin your egg donation cycle. During your 10-14 day cycle, you’ll take injectable hormone medications daily to stimulate your ovaries to produce multiple egg-containing follicles. Frequent monitoring via quick blood tests and ultrasounds will ensure that your eggs are reaching peak maturity prior to retrieval. As the eggs mature, you may feel some bloating.
When the eggs reach maturity, a minor surgical procedure known as an egg retrieval is performed under sedation. A specialized needle is used to extract the eggs from your ovaries, and it’s a relatively quick procedure, and you’ll go home that day to get some rest. Your doctor will monitor you closely afterwards and check in after the procedure to ensure there are no complications.
Your half of the eggs will be frozen and safely stored for up to 10 years for free. The other half will go to the family you matched with.
So, why would a woman donate her eggs?
There are many reasons why someone might donate her eggs, but the main rationale we tend to hear falls into a few main categories:
- Empathy and compassion: Many women choose to donate their eggs out of a desire to help others experience the joy of parenthood. They want to make a meaningful difference in someone's life and recognize the emotional struggles of those trying to bring children into the world, especially if they know someone first-hand who has faced family-building challenges.
- Ethical considerations: Many egg donors share a strong belief in reproductive autonomy, allowing individuals and couples to make choices about their family-building journey.
- Opportunity to freeze your eggs for free: Egg donation can also offer financial compensation to donors, though the exact amount varies by location and agency. Our Split program instead offers a unique approach, allowing women to freeze their eggs for free when they donate half the eggs retrieved to another family.
Facts and myths about egg donation
When it comes to egg donation, there’s a ton of misinformation out there — let’s dive into some of the big myths you may come across and dissect which ones are fact vs. fiction.
Can you still have kids after donating eggs?
Yes. Donating eggs does not affect a woman's ability to have children in the future. A stimulation and retrieval cycle involves such a small fraction of a woman’s total egg supply, which the body replenishes. That said, it's essential to consider your own family-building goals with a healthcare provider before becoming a donor — which is why we offer our Split program. Those participating in the program are able to preserve a bit of their own fertility while doing something amazing for another family.
Read more in Does Donating Eggs Affect Your Fertility?
Are donor eggs your baby?
Nope. Donor eggs are *not* babies. They are half of the genetic material used for the child of the intended parent(s), with the remaining genetic material coming from the sperm provider (the intended parent or a sperm donor). A donor's contribution is solely the eggs, not the full genetic makeup of the child. And, as mentioned above, as part of the process you’ll sign a legal agreement clarifying that you do not have rights to any embryos or children resulting from these eggs.
Will I experience psychological impact?
Yes — but in a good way! If screened and educated properly (this is a big “if”), anyone donating eggs should have full informed consent about the donation process and everything involved. All egg donors should undergo thorough psychological assessments and have access to counseling before, during, and after the process to ensure their emotional well being.
At Freeze by Co, our model removes cash compensation from the egg donation process (rather, enabling women in our Split program to freeze half of the eggs for their own future use for free). We’ve designed the program to provide Split members with the opportunity to not only preserve some of their own fertility future, but also help another family. This way, everyone involved can feel good about the journey.
Read more in Will I Regret Donating My Eggs?
Donating eggs through Cofertility's Split program
Cofertility's Split program is a unique approach to egg donation that distinguishes itself from traditional methods rooted in cash compensation and icky practices. Our program helps provide everyone — both the person freezing and donating their eggs and the intended parent(s) — with autonomy to grow their family, whether that’s today, or maybe some time in the future.
Members of our Split program get to keep half of the eggs retrieved, plus:
- Free storage of their own eggs in cryopreservation for up to 10 years
- Coverage of all medical costs for the egg donation process
- Connection to the Cofertility community for support all along the way and after too
- The ability to work with the intended parents to decide together what your relationship will look like
If giving your eggs to intended parents sounds like something you would like to do, you may be able to qualify for the free egg freezing process and have your donation process covered too.
Take our quiz to see if you qualify for our Split program today!
We believe that every donor deserves to have a positive and empowering experience, and we are committed to making that a reality. That’s why Cofertility was named one of the Best Egg Donor Programs by Egg Donor Connect.