When deciding to have a baby by way of in vitro fertilization (IVF) or through surrogacy, there are a lot of factors to consider.
Here at Your Fertility Friend, we want you to have a reliable source of information you can trust, so we did the research on egg donor agencies for you. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is an Egg Donor Agency?
An egg donor agency is a company that retrieves donated eggs from a fertile woman, which are later implanted into a woman that isn’t able to have children.
An egg donor company has doctors on staff to retrieve donated eggs from the donor.
Normally, the egg donation program sends the eggs to a laboratory to be fertilized. Then, the embryos are implanted into the recipient’s uterus through a procedure known as in vitro fertilization (IVF).
In some cases, the embryos are frozen to be used at a later date instead of being implanted into a recipient right away.
Egg Donor Agency, Fertility Clinic or Egg Bank: Which Is Best?
When choosing an option for your in vitro process, you can choose between an egg donor agency, a fertility clinic, or an egg donor bank.
In many ways, these options are similar, but there are slight differences you should be aware of so you can choose the best option for you.
Egg donation agencies typically have the widest egg donation selection because they have donors throughout the United States.
Fertility clinics have egg donor programs that are very similar to those through agencies, but instead of having donors throughout the country, their donors are local, which makes it easier for the live embryo to be implanted.
With both options, you receive all of the eggs retrieved from the donor unless it’s a shared cycle because that could potentially be a large number of eggs.
Also, the process takes between four and nine months to complete because the donor has to be screened and you have to wait for your cycle and the donor’s cycle to sync.
If you’re looking for an option where contact is maintained with the egg donor, you should choose an agency. Clinics aren’t set up in a way that allows them to maintain donor contact info.
Egg Banks operate a bit differently because they work with frozen embryos. When you work with an egg bank, you purchase sets of eggs, typically in groups of six.
These are available for immediate transfer because when frozen embryos are used, you don’t have to wait for your cycle to sync with the donor’s.
Also, because the process isn’t as lengthy and detailed, it often costs a lot less to use a bank than an agency or clinic.
When you use an egg donation agency or a fertility clinic, you can expect to pay between $21,000 and $45,000, but if you choose an egg bank, your costs will average between $16,000 and $18,000.
Types of Egg Donations That Agencies Offer
If you choose to use an egg donation agency, you then have to choose the type of donation you prefer. There are three types of egg donations from which to choose — open/known, semi-known, and closed/anonymous.
Known or open egg donations refer to those when the agency you choose shares contact information between the donor and recipient.
This allows them to establish a relationship and contact each other in the future. This is the type of process you want to choose if you’re interested in meeting the egg donor — or the recipient if you’re donating your eggs.
If you’re not interested in meeting the donor but do wish to have a way to contact them in the future, which is a great way to establish a medical history for your child, you may want to consider a semi-known process.
With this option, both party’s first names and areas of residence are shared and you have the option to choose to have some limited contact between you.
With an anonymous egg donation, there isn’t any contact information shared between the donor and recipient. The parties don’t have contact with each other at all.
Understanding How the Process Works
Whether you are considering becoming a donor or utilizing donated eggs, your probably wondering “how does egg donation work?” It’s important to understand the entire process before committing to an egg donor agency.
USA donors and parents have to follow specific steps both before and during the donation process. These steps help ensure the procedure is safe and works properly.
Process for Egg Donors
Egg donors start the screening and preparation process several weeks or months in advance to ensure the procedure is safe and viable eggs are obtained.
They are given medication to stop their normal menstrual cycle. Then, given fertility drugs to stimulate the ovaries so they produce several eggs at once.
This medication is self-administered, but the donor’s progress and reaction to the medication are strictly monitored using blood tests and ultrasound exams.
The FDA monitors how reproductive tissue is handled and limits who qualifies as a donor, and on top of this, donors must also meet the egg donor agency requirements.
These can vary from agency to agency, but in general, before becoming an egg donor, you need to make sure you meet these guidelines:
- Be a female between the ages of 21 and 32
- Be a U.S. citizen or have the legal right to work in the United States
- Have regular monthly periods
- Be physically and emotionally healthy
- Have a healthy BMI
- Be a non-smoker and non-drug-user
- Have no reproductive disorders or abnormalities
- Have an excellent family health history
- Have two ovaries
- Must not be using the Mirena IUD, Depo Provera shot, or implanted birth control
Keep in mind, egg donor requirements are strictly monitored, as they should be, by the agency to ensure women meet all their criteria.
Typically, the egg donation process takes about two weeks, but it can take up to six weeks to become an approved donor.
Donation Process for Parents
Parents begin the egg donation process by choosing an agency, clinic, or egg bank.
You’ll find egg donor agency locations across the country and your gynecologist can recommend some of the best donor egg banks in your local area.
Once you’ve chosen a source, you’ll use its donor database to start your egg donor search to find a woman that meets your personal requirements.
Typically, you also have an initial consultation with the agency where you’re able to discuss health concerns and see photos of various donors.
After you’ve selected a donor, the agency consults with your doctor and infertility clinic to start the process.
During this time, the egg donor is given specific instructions for the preparation process, which takes about two weeks.
Once the eggs have been retrieved and fertilized, your doctor starts the in vitro process, which is when the embryos are physically implanted into your uterus.
About two weeks after that, you’re given a pregnancy test to see if you’re pregnant.
Risks Involved in the Process
There are risks involved with the egg donation procedure that you should be aware of before starting the process.
Most of them are directly related to the fertility drugs and antibiotics given during the preparation process though.
Fertility drugs can cause:
- Moderate weight gain
- Mood changes
- Stomach pressure
- Allergic reactions
- Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome
However, you might also experience emotional issues and psychological distress during the process.
This is why potential donors have to go through psychological testing during the screening process. This testing is designed to help prevent women from becoming donors who may be affected by the process emotionally.
Fees and Costs of Using Egg Donor Agencies
Egg donors are compensated for donating their eggs.
Typically, egg donation compensation ranges between $5,000 and $10,000, but if the parents are looking for a very specific donor type, such as a college student attending Harvard, compensation could be upwards of $50,000.
In addition to egg donor compensation, prospective parents have to pay various fees including:
- The cost of legal coordination between the parents and donor
- Egg donor attorney fees
- Egg donor psychological evaluation fees
- Egg donor insurance coverage
- Escrow account management fees
Of course, you also have to pay for the cost of the IVF procedure.
Fortunately, in many cases, egg donor financing is available, which allows you to pay these costs over an extended period of time.
If needed, ask the agency you’re working with about financing options.
How to Find an Egg Donor Agency That’s Right For You
Trying to find the best egg donor agency isn’t about finding an agency with high ratings. It’s about finding an option that’s a good fit for you.
For example, a couple looking for an egg donor might not have the same needs as a single woman.
So even though an agency catering to single women has rave reviews, they may not be a good fit for a couple.
When looking for an agency, start your search locally. The process is easier if you don’t have to travel a long distance for meetings and procedures.
If there aren’t any options nearby or you have very specific needs, expand your search looking for options that meet your requirements as close as possible.
What to Look for in an Egg Donor Agency
While you may want to choose the egg donor agency closest to you or one that your friend raves about, there are specific things you should research including:
- The agency’s reputation
- How long they’ve been in business
- What their process entails
- How long their process takes from start to finish
- How they screen their donors
Questions To Ask Egg Donor Agency
Even if you’ve researched the agency on your own, you should ask several questions before making your decision including:
- How long has the agency been in business?
- How many donors has the agency matched with recipients in the last year?
- How many donors are available?
- How many pregnancies have resulted from the agency’s donors?
- What fees do they charge?
- How much are you required to pay upfront and how much do you pay once you’ve selected a donor?
- Does the agency facilitate a meeting between the parents and donor if requested?
- Does the egg donor undergo psychological screening before being approved, and if so, who conducts the screening?
- How long are records retained for anonymous donors?
- Does the agency adhere to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine Guidelines for Oocyte Donation?
- What’s included in the legal contracts the parents and donors sign?
Deciding on an Egg Donor Agency
During your research process, you should take the time to read through some of the agency’s egg donation reviews to get a good idea of how other couples and donors enjoyed the experience.
Reading the reviews will give you a better understanding of what to expect and how your experience will be.
Of course, you can always search for “best egg donation agency” and review the top results, but you shouldn’t base your decision entirely on one internet search.
Instead, make a list of a few options you want to consider and join online groups on the topic of fertility to see if others are willing to share their experiences with the agencies on your list.
The Top 10 Best Egg Donor Agencies in the US
You can find lists of egg donor agencies online with a simple search. Just type “egg donor agencies near me” into a search engine and wait for your results.
To get you started on your search here are some of the best options in the United States.
- Beverly Hills Egg Donation has been in business since 2007 and is continually one of the most highly regarded agencies in the industry.
- Growing Generations is a U.S. egg donor agency that works with families and donors worldwide.
- ConceiveAbilities prides itself on finding the perfect match every time. They believe matching between parents, surrogates, and egg donors is an important part of the process.
- Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation has worked with families and egg donors for more than two decades.
- Fairfax Egg Bank is ideal for parents who prefer to use frozen embryos.
- Conceptual Options has been in business since 1999. The agency prides itself on working with couples, LGBT+ families, and individuals who want to become parents.
- New Life Egg Donors bills itself as the agency with the widest choice of bright egg donors. The company says that its screening process ensures only healthy, capable, and informed egg donors are welcomed into the program, which leads to high rates of success.
- Cryos International Sperm & Egg Bank is based in Florida but has donors all over the world. They have an online donor database and ship frozen sperm and eggs to fertilization clinics worldwide.
- Golden Egg Donation specializes in premier egg donors. The agency focuses on securing only top-tier, beautiful, and intelligent egg donors.
- Compassionate Beginnings has a thorough screening process that includes meeting each donor in person before accepting her into the program.