Egg donation can be an empowering and rewarding choice for many young women, but not everyone will qualify as a donor. Certain factors such as age, physical health, risk of inheritable genetic issues, contraceptive use, and schedule availability are potential egg donor disqualifications. Let’s explore each of these.
1. Age Factors
Age is perhaps the biggest factor in determining who will qualify as an egg donor. Because the quality of a woman’s eggs diminishes as she ages, it’s best for egg donors to be 29 or younger. Each agency and egg bank is able to set their own criteria for age, although it’s very common to see egg donors between the ages of 20-29.
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine guidelines state that egg donors should be between the ages of 21-34; however, it is up to each individual clinic, agency, or egg bank to determine eligibility.
2. Physical Health
One of the most common reasons why a woman would be disqualified as an egg donor is due to her physical health. In general, egg donors must meet the following health criteria:
- BMI of 28 or below
- No smoking or drug use; minimal or no alcohol use
- No transfusions, piercings, or tattoos in the past 12 months
- No notable family health history or past personal history
- Not on any antidepressants or undergoing any treatment for psychiatric disorders or depression
- No sexually transmitted diseases within at least the past year
You’ll be required to undergo a physical exam and obtain clearance from your own OB/GYN or general practitioner before beginning medications for a donation cycle.
The Importance of a Regular Menstrual Cycle
Egg donors need to have regular menstrual cycles in order to qualify. Regular cycles are an indication of a healthy reproductive system, so this is one of the main criteria.
You must have both ovaries, regular menstrual periods, and no history of reproductive disorders or abnormalities.
3. Inheritable Genetic Disorders
Another common reason to be disqualified from egg donation is evidence of having an inheritable genetic disorder.
When you apply to be an egg donor, you will be asked about your family medical history, including the presence of any inherited genetic disorders. Many times, you’ll also be asked to submit a blood sample for genetic testing. This is to find out if you are a genetic carrier for diseases like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia, Tay-Sachs, muscular dystrophy, and more.
4. Use of Contraception
Women who are using long-term forms of birth control such as Depo-Provera injections, implants, or hormonal IUDs such as the Mirena will be disqualified from egg donation.
If you have received the Depo-Provera injection or the Nexplanon/Implanon implant, you will need to wait six to twelve months after stopping the contraception.
Hormonal IUDs like the Mirena are incompatible with egg donation, but after removal you can become qualified fairly quickly. Donors can typically continue using birth control pills and copper (non-hormonal) IUDs.
5. Uncommitted to Schedule
A lot of women are surprised at the time commitment involved with becoming an egg donor. You will need to have a schedule that is flexible enough to attend multiple medical appointments, sometimes as many as 10-15. You need to understand that the final two weeks of your cycle will involve frequent in-person appointments at the clinic.
If you have a very busy lifestyle and cannot find flexibility in your schedule, you may be disqualified as an egg donor.
However, many of our best candidates are extremely driven and will commit to whatever it takes to give another person a chance to have a family of their own. Many egg donors are initially drawn to the opportunity because of the compensation, but the women who are best qualified are highly driven by their altruistic desire to help others.
Can A Lifestyle Change Make A Difference?
If you are concerned you may be disqualified from being an egg donor, the good news is that in many cases, there are some lifestyle changes you can make that may help.
There’s not much you can do about your genetics, but you can control things like your drug, alcohol, or nicotine use. Abstain from smoking, drinking, and drug use for at least a year before you apply as a donor.
You can speak with your doctor about contraception that is compatible with egg donation. You should realize that during the donor cycle, you will be taking medication that makes you extremely fertile. You need to know exactly how you can keep yourself from becoming pregnant during this period. Often, you will need to remain abstinent for around a two-week period before retrieval.
If you know you’d like to donate your eggs in the near future, then make sure to avoid any disqualifying events like getting a tattoo or piercing. You can also become qualified by reaching a healthy BMI through exercise and diet, so use your motivation to be a donor as a catalyst to improve your health in general.
Your reproductive health is in your hands. Become a potential egg donor today!