Monday, April 6, 2009

The risks of egg donation

When you're a woman in your twenties, you and/or your friends are likely to be hard up for money at some point. For young women, egg donation can seem attractive. It's a lot of money for a completed cycle (the ads I've seen offered from $2500 up to $10,000) and doesn't seem like that big a deal - after all, to donate their sperm all guys have to do is a little business into a cup!

Not that the money wasn't tempting, but after reading about what it entails, I tried to sound a note of caution with my friends who were thinking about it. We already know that there are potential cancer risks linked to estrogen and phytoestrogen exposure, and egg donation requires big doses of hormones to stimulate the ovaries. I think it's one thing to undergo it if you're doing it to conceive your own children, but it's another to take on those risks for cash, without knowing for sure what your future holds in terms of future reproductive life plans. Now, learning more about the growing concern of egg donation risks, I'm wondering how we can really educate young women about what being an egg donor might entail, and how we can push research that explores what kind of risks women are exposing themselves to by donating eggs.

Do you have personal (or friends') experiences with egg donation? What do you think?

1 comment:

Molly said...

I'm one of the many, many people who faced the threat of not being able to support myself and my child for the first time this year. (A bit of background: I'm an academic in the humanities, working on a fixed-term contract, and was unable to get a tenure-track job but also found that no one in our areas is hiring lecturers or even adjuncts because of hiring freezes; I'm extraordinarily fortunate to have recently gotten a great one-year position for next year and have thus temporarily dodged the bullet. But unemployment and uninsuredness were staring me in the face for a few months, and we have zero savings.) My thoughts did go to egg donation as one of the very few remaining unexplored ways for me to make money, and although I set aside the idea pretty quickly, what was fascinating and deeply instructive to me was how quickly and easily one's thoughts turn to selling one's body in one way or another when the basic possibility of providing for one's child is in question. I was raised in a very privileged environment, have a Ph.D. and lots of concern for my physical and reproductive well-being, etc., but when the shit hits the fan, this sort of path suddenly seems more fathomable. It made various wheels turn in my head, anyway, in terms of the effect of my privileged background on how I think about my body, money, etc.