Money & payment

Most programs offer payment to women donating their eggs for their time, effort, and discomfort — your payment does not and should not depend on the number or quality of eggs retrieved.  Outside of the United States, however, payment and compensation expectations may vary.

Questions to ask:

How much money can I receive for my eggs?

Even though some egg donation ads claim to compensate egg donors as much as $100,000, most women are compensated in the range of $3,000-$10,000 per donation cycle. First-time donors are often compensated $3,000-$5,000.  The price goes up, usually by about $1,000, with each subsequent donation based on how well the process went in previous cycles. The amount of compensation tends to vary based upon geographical location, whether specific traits or qualities are in high demand, and whether you are a “proven donor” (past donations resulted in pregnancy).

If you decide to withdraw from the program before eggs are retrieved, some programs will provide partial compensation based on the number of days of medication taken. Compensation expectations should be discussed and determined prior to starting the medication protocol. Donors should not be required to pay for any of the medical costs, regardless of whether they decide not to donate, or withdraw from a donation after the cycle has begun. No donor should feel obligated or threatened to continue under fear they will be responsible for medical costs.

According the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), donors are required to pay taxes on any money received for donating eggs, using the Form 1099.

Consideration: Hidden costs of egg donation

While the amount of compensation seems large, it is also important to consider how much it may cost you to participate. This can include days off from work for frequent doctor visits, transportation to the program, baby-sitting, or other expenses.  Also, during out-of-state retrieval processes many donors choose to bring a companion along to care for them after the procedure.  Most programs will cover travel expenses for a companion but do not compensate the companion for time off from work.

Note: During the donation process you are required to attend several doctors’ appointments for physical examinations, psychological screenings, blood work, cervical cultures, urine samples, learning how to give yourself injections, etc.

Consideration: Donating eggs to friends or relatives

Usually, there is no financial compensation when a woman donates eggs to a relative or friend. If you arrange to be paid outside of an agency, egg bank, or fertility clinic, you will not be protected if things do not go as planned. Seeking the advice and counsel of an attorney practicing reproductive law may be beneficial to determine and outline the expectations of both the donor and recipients.

Controversy: Egg donor compensation

A major debate in the area of egg donation deals with the topic of compensation.  Egg donors are not paid for their eggs, as this would be akin to selling organs, which is an illegal practice in the US. Rather, women are paid for their time, effort, and inconvenience. This is also why egg retrieval is referred to as a donation and not a sale of eggs. However, the characterization of the financial transaction is inconsistent: the IRS has deemed egg donation income as taxable.

Though there is a wide range of advertised compensation for egg donors, most receive around $7,000 for one completed cycle. The ASRM guidelines suggest that compensation of over $5,000 requires justification and exceeding $10,000 in any circumstance is inappropriate. ASRM claims these limits are in place to minimize the chance that women are attracted to the process purely for financial gain, and overlook risks that they might have otherwise considered. There is currently a class action lawsuit brought by two classes of egg donors against American Society for Reproductive Medicine asserting that the practice of recommending compensation caps is illegal price fixing.

However, it has been argued that the exchange of money for eggs constitutes a form of exploitation and commodification of women and their bodies. (See related information under Self-advocacy.)

Additionally, there is the argument that the egg donor’s characteristics such as physical attributes and intelligence are the items really being valued in the transaction, not the donor’s time and effort.

Such debates have led to various proposals for new egg donor payment models, from the rejection of payment altogether to a suggestion that women who donate should be able to negotiate for higher compensation.

For more information:

When will I receive payment?

A payment schedule should be set forth before beginning the egg donor cycle. The payment schedule can take several forms. Sometimes a donor will receive payments based on the donor reaching different stages in the cycle, e.g. starting injections, administering the “trigger” shot, and retrieval. Other times a donor will receive compensation only after retrieval. Donors can and should feel comfortable negotiating for which payment schedule is right for them. Payment should not be contingent on the “success” of a cycle such as whether a donor produces a certain number of eggs, e.g. more money for more eggs.

Consideration: Payment terms and conditions

Before signing an agreement, make sure that you understand how and when you will be paid. Will you be paid directly by the recipient or by the program? Will compensation for medical expenses and travel be included or paid separately? What are the specifics of compensation if you do not complete the process?

Will I need to pay taxes on my egg donation compensation?

The short answer: Probably. A groundbreaking tax court ruling in January 2015 determined that fees paid to egg egg [-Adena] donors are, indeed, taxable. However, despite this ruling, many egg donors continue to successfully appeal taxes owed.

About the tax court case: Nichelle Perez, an egg donor out of California, donated her eggs twice. She did not report her compensation as income when filing her taxes. However, her agency reported the amounts to the IRS who subsequently requested Ms. Perez pay taxes on the compensation. Ms. Perez appealed, just as many donors before her. This time the appeal led to a landmark case before the United States Tax Court – the first case addressing the tax treatment of compensation received for the sale or donation of human eggs.

In short, she lost. The court held “[c]ompensation for pain and suffering resulting from the consensual performance of a service contract is not “damages” under I.R.C. section 104(a)(2) and must be included in gross income."

However, despite the holding of the court, the decision is far from a cut and dry decision regarding all egg donation compensation. Several questions remain unanswered. Posed by attorney Dean Masserman, they are as follows:

  • Was the court suggesting that if the contracts were re-written and clearly stated that the compensation is for the sale of eggs that Perez would have won?
  • If language was added that compensation is dependent upon the quality and quantity of eggs retrieved would it make a difference? Would any egg donor agree to such terms?
  • Isn’t revenue from the sale of property and goods taxable anyway?
  • Does the sale of single-cell genomes fall within the exception regarding the sale of body parts?

Moreover, the ruling underscores the importance having a contract signed by both parties -- the egg donor and the recipient(s) -- with separate legal counsel. Because egg donation practices are unregulated and wide-varying in the United States, egg donors should advocate for a contract and separate legal representation. Also note that a medical consent form is not the same as a legal contract between both parties.