In March of 1999, an advertisement was placed in the student newspapers of Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale:

Help our dream come true. A loving, caring couple seeking egg donor. Candidates should be intelligent, athletic, blonde, at least 5'10", have a 1400+ SAT score, and possess no major family medical issues. $50,000.

Holy Moses! Fifty thousand dollars for donating an egg? Compared to the money that men make for donating sperm (the best candidates receive a measly couple hundred dollars), desirable egg donors can really sweep up some cash.

Granted, $50,000 is highly unusual. In fact, the family that placed the ad received quite a bit of flack for being so elitist as to ask that potential candidates attend an Ivy League school and achieve a minimum SAT score and height requirement. The family defended itself by saying that it merely wanted a child that would be as similar to them as possible, as if the egg was one of their own. Welcome to the cutthroat world off egg donation.

Being an egg donor is much different than being a sperm donor for several reasons:

  • Sperm donors are men. They have an unlimited amount of sperm, and it's incredibly easy to donate that sperm (it just takes a hand and a magazine). That's why men make a couple hundred dollars for participating in a sperm donation program.

  • Egg donors are women. Women have a limited number of eggs (several hundred) and to get the eggs, the woman must undergo surgery. That's why women can make several thousand dollars for donating some eggs.

So if you're ready to gain weight, take hormones, have surgery, and make a few thousand bucks while helping an eggless couple, read on. Just remember that this IS a surgical procedure, so it shouldn't be taken lightly.


Before you start hunkering down into your nest to produce some eggs, you should take a minute to get a refresher course in basic human biology. All egg donors usually have the following body parts:

  1. Eggs. Female reproductive cells (oocytes). Women are born with a finite amount of eggs (hundreds of 'em, but finite nonetheless).

  2. Ovaries. The glands producing eggs and hormones. You have two: one located on each side of your pelvis.

  3. Follicle. A fluid filled sac in the ovary that releases the egg at ovulation.

  4. Uterus. The hollow, muscular female reproductive organ that houses the fetus (a.k.a. the womb).

  5. Estrogen. A female hormone that directs the reproductive cycle; levels are particularly high from puberty to menopause.

If you remember 7th grade sex education class (snicker snicker!), you'll recall that fertile women ovulate approximately once a month. During this time, a healthy egg (or sometimes two) travels out of an ovary and down the fallopian tube to the uterus, where it attaches itself to the uterine wall and eventually turns into a baby (if it was fertilized). There are many women out there who are perfectly healthy and are physically capable of ovulating, except there is one problem: no eggs. So these women often seek out egg donors. The doctor removes your egg, fertilizes it with the father's sperm, and surgically implants it into the new mother's uterus, where it grows into a fetus and pops out 9 months later as a healthy bundle of joy. Cigars all around!

Donating your eggs is one option in what the medical profession calls "assisted reproductive technology," or A.R.T. A.R.T. offers a wide variety of choices for infertile couples to achieve pregnancy, such as sperm donation or in vitro fertilization. If you're a man and want to participate in A.R.T., may we suggest that you look at "SYW donate sperm?"

Why would a woman not have eggs of her own? Perhaps she lost her eggs due to chemotherapy, disease, menopause, or genetic abnormalities such as being born without a uterus. In the US, approximately 2% of women of reproductive age are infertile, and receiving donated eggs fertilized in a lab by their partner's sperm can offer as much as a 65% chance of pregnancy. Naturally, the success rate for this method of A.R.T. depends on many factors, including the age and health of the egg donor. So let's move on to how you know if you qualify to be a donor.