At What Age Can I Donate Eggs?
What is the best age to donate your eggs? This is one of the most common questions we hear at Donor Egg Network. Although donors can donate at the age of majority (18) through age 34 per the American Society for Reproductive Medicine guidelines, many clinics prefer first-time donors to be between 21 and 31.
Reasons Why Age Matters When Donating Eggs
There are three primary reasons why an egg donor’s egg matters.
1. Optimized egg quality for recipients
The peak health of the female egg is in the late teens and early twenties and then begins to decline at age 30. So, we’re looking to retrieve and freeze eggs that fall within the peak reproductive age, but we also want to make sure that donors are mature and fully understand the egg donation process.
Egg donation supports women, and couples and men through the help of a surrogate undergoing fertility treatment by utilizing donor eggs as part of their family building plans. It’s our job to make sure those eggs are as healthy as possible to increase the recipient’s chances of conception and the birth of a healthy, full-term baby.
While some pursuing egg donation carry a known chromosomal/genetic disorder they wish not to pass on, most are struggling to get pregnant or have failed IVF treatments as the result of age-related egg decline. IVF success rates directly correlate with the age of the eggs used in the procedure. The younger the eggs, the higher the chances of IVF success.
2. Psychological readiness and commitment
Teenage women may be chock full of young, healthy egg follicles, but some lack the maturity and psychological readiness to make such an important decision. Donating eggs to someone who needs them may sound like a “no brainer” at first, but it goes deeper than that.
When you donate your eggs, you send your genetic material out there for someone else to use. Unlike the donor egg recipients, who get to choose their donor based on detailed profiles, donors do not get to choose their eggs’ recipients. It’s crucial that egg donations come from adults old enough to handle a fertility clinic’s thorough screening process. In addition to blood tests, transvaginal ultrasounds, and typical ObGyn-type evaluations, a detailed personal lifestyle and family medical history screening will allow infertility physicians to determine whether candidates:
- Are psychologically sound
- Have thought through questions, which may arise in the future. For example, will any of your family members get upset about your decision to donate your eggs? How will you talk about this to your current/future children? Does your partner know about/understand/support your decision? Have you considered how a future partner might feel about having children that share “half-sibling” relationships with your children?
- Are prepared for the reality that in the era of genetic DNA testing and family tree websites, these technologies are designed to connect the genetic “dots,” meaning that egg donation can no longer be called “anonymous” donation.
If age 19 and younger, we applaud your generosity of spirit, but we ask that you check back with us after your 20th birthday. Read our About You page to learn more about what we’re looking for in an egg donor.
3. You have the ability to be flexible with regard to cycle timing
Although we can work around almost any schedule, egg donation requires responsiveness and responsibility. Screening appointments can be scheduled at a time convenient for you and the clinic, but the monitoring appointments in the two weeks leading up to retrieval are less flexible. During this time, donors are required to visit the clinic every other morning for a 15-minute blood draw and ultrasound.
As we mention on our Thinking About It, But… page, “The best way to look at an egg donation cycle is as a PART-TIME JOB…one for which you’ll be well-compensated.”