IFLG What's Really Involved When Donating Your Eggs Rich Vaughn

What’s Really Involved When Donating Your Eggs?

Egg donors have helped thousands of intended parents fulfill their dreams of parenthood. According to a study of prospective egg donors published in the Oxford Academic Journals, 98 percent of participants expressed that altruism played a significant role in their decision to donate eggs. Financial compensation ranked second, with 81.32 percent of the participants saying it was significant in their decision, and the desire to pass on their genetic material ranked third with 23.08 percent of participants. A full 20 percent of those motivated by altruism knew someone struggling with infertility.

To view an egg donor recruiting ad, you might think that all the process entails is showing up at a clinic for a visit and walking away with thousands of dollars in compensation, but the egg donation process is far more complex and demanding than the egg donor recruiting ads portray. The ideal egg donors are women aged 18 to 30, so the ads are prevalent in social media and “smart marketing” campaigns. Egg donor recruiting ads can often gloss over the reality of what it means to be an egg donor and what the process entails, and there’s certainly not enough space in an ad to explain the depth of what’s truly involved. In a quick search on social media, an ad on Instagram with a picture of a young woman wearing a backpack states, “Become an egg donor and earn between $5,000 - $60,000.” Other ads offer an “opportunity of a lifetime” and the chance to “give the ultimate gift.” Yet another ad states, “Get a financial boost. Give the gift of parenthood.”

Although these are examples of actual ads, becoming an egg donor should not be solely based on financial or altruistic motivations but should be combined with a comprehensive understanding of the physical, mental, legal, and long-term impacts that may arise during and after the donation process. As stated by the Society for Ethics for Egg Donation and Surrogacy (SEEDS), a nonprofit organization working to define and promote ethical standards for egg donation and surrogacy, an egg donor recruiting advertisement “shall be considered coercive if undue emphasis is placed on monetary incentive” to the donor.

There are many reputable egg donor agencies – companies that are FDA, HIPAA, and ASRM compliant, who have a solid history in the fertility community of caring for an egg donor’s best interests, and who are highly rated by their peers, doctors, lawyers, and psychologists who work in this area, and even the Better Business Bureau. Women who desire to become an egg donor should seek out one of these agencies, and they should explore the possibility of becoming a donor armed with the facts.

What the Egg Donation Process Is Really Like

To become an egg donor, there are many steps to complete over the course of a few months, and as correctly noted in Very Well Family, egg donation is an invasive medical procedure that can take a physical and emotional toll on the donors. Before the donation can even occur, there will be testing to see if a potential donor qualifies. This will involve filling out questionnaires including the donor’s medical history, fertility and gynecological exams, transvaginal ultrasounds, blood work, a psychological assessment, genetic testing, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. After the initial set of tests, if a donor qualifies, there will be weekly doctor appointments, daily injections of fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries to release more eggs (usually 20-30), and finally, a surgical procedure in which a needle is used to retrieve the eggs.

Egg Donation May Pose Side Effects

Although the surgical procedure itself is quick, usually around 20 to 30 minutes, there may be side effects both during and after the egg donation. Nausea, bloating, cramps, and headaches are all common side effects.  “You are extremely hormonal,” says Ellie Asquith, a 19-year-old egg donor in the UK who decided to donate her eggs after seeing an advertisement on Instagram, in INEWS. “I had bad cramps for two weeks while I was doing the injections. Then, on the way to the clinic to get the eggs extracted, you look about three months pregnant. I was so bloated. I had this little bump. When I came around after the operation, I wanted to cry. I felt stressed out. I was very overwhelmed.” She says the process was harder than expected but does not regret her decision to help other families have a child.

Although rare, there is also the possibility of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), a swelling of the ovaries that can lead to serious medical problems including blood clots. Of course, these side effects do not apply to all donors. Many donors have very mild side effects, but it is something to be aware of when going through the donor process. It takes time and can take a physical toll.

Egg Donation May Also Present Psychological Challenges in the Future

Becoming an egg donor is not a decision to make in haste or for a “quick buck.” It is something that requires time; time to consider the scope of what becoming an egg donor means, including psychological challenges a donor may face in the present and in the future. Dr. Diane Tober, associate professor at the University of Alabama Department of Anthropology and Institute for Social Science Research, has been researching egg donors’ decisions and experiences in the global market with a focus on the commodification of human genetic material and well-being of the egg donors since 2003. In an article in INEWS, she relays stories where some donors she’s spoken to have expressed remorse and regret. Reputable egg donor programs require psychological screening and counseling for potential egg donors to make sure they are an appropriate candidate, and that they are making an informed decision. It is not only important to think about the process of egg donation but also what the future holds. An egg donor will be helping another family have a child, but that child will share a genetic connection with the donor.

In the U.S., a patchwork of laws governing the rights of donors, and donor-conceived people vary from state to state, but in the U.K., a law has come into effect this year stating that any child resulting from sperm or egg donations will receive their donor’s information upon their 18th birthday (Colorado passed a similar law in June of 2022 and became the first state to do so). As technology evolves, DNA testing kits gaining popularity, and children growing up with internet access, the days of anonymity may be gone altogether as we reported in April. A donor-conceived child may very well find and contact the donor at some point in their lives, making counseling an important part of the egg donation process.

Legal Considerations for Becoming an Egg Donor

There are also legal aspects to consider when becoming an egg donor. It is important to note that it is illegal to pay a donor for her eggs as it is considered the selling of human tissue. The compensation to an egg donor is for the time and inconvenience of the process and procedure. Seeking legal counsel can help with questions that may arise when making the decision to donate. How much is the compensation for time spent being a donor? When will the donor be paid for her time? Will this be an open or closed donation? Will there be any contact with any resulting donor-conceived children? Who will pay for the donor’s medical expenses? Will the donor be required to give any health updates in the future? These are only a few aspects of the donor process that should be considered and addressed in an egg donation agreement. Most clinics and agencies will require the parties to have written agreements in place, so seeking legal advice before signing any contracts will ensure all parties involved are represented fairly and that they understand their rights and obligations before proceeding.

If you are considering becoming an egg donor, thank you! You are essential to the process of assisted reproduction, and we are here to help answer any questions that you might have, so please contact us. We are happy to help you and to make sure your interests are protected.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

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Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

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New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.