Surrogacy Vs. Egg Donation: How Are They Similar and How Are They Different?

Women who are passionate about helping others, or have had friends or family members who have struggled with infertility, often want to know how they can help people achieve the families of their dreams. Egg donation and gestational surrogacy are two of the ways that women can help those who aren’t able to have their own children. However, the two procedures often get confused with each other, causing misconceptions about who can do egg donation or gestational surrogacy, and what each entails. What follows is a discussion of how they are similar and how they are very different.

Some Frequently Asked Questions

We get a lot of questions about the differences between egg donation and gestational surrogacy, and even more questions about what the requirements and procedures are for both. We love answering these questions because education is key for both the donor or surrogate and for the intended “recipient”/parent(s). Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions:

Q: Do they harvest your eggs at the same time they do the transfer?

A: Not even possible. With egg donation you are given hormones to promote the production of eggs. With surrogacy you are given hormones that suppress egg production and ovulation. Furthermore, it is rare (and ill-advised) for a surrogate to use her own eggs, unless she is related to one of the intended parents.

Q: You have to be YOUNG to be a surrogate, right? Like under 28?

A: Unlike donating eggs, gestational carriers can be older than 28 or 30, even up to low 40s in some cases. Most egg donation agencies prefer you to be under the age of 28-30 because egg quality is known to deteriorate after your 20s. Your uterus can be giving the gift of life for much longer than your ovaries!

Q: My friend was a surrogate in college because it was the best way for her to earn some quick money!

A: While it is possible that your friend was a surrogate in college, it would be less likely, because she would have needed to be a mother already. It’s much more likely that she was an egg donor, and it wasn’t “quick” money – it takes a real time commitment (not to mention the physical commitment) to be an egg donor.

Here are some other key facts that you may not have had at your fingertips about the differences between being an egg donor and being a gestational carrier.

Egg donation is:

  • Often anonymous (the donor doesn’t know the identity of the recipients and vice versa)
  • Completely possible even if you haven’t had your own children
  • Usually a 6-month commitment
  • Your genetic material (your eggs!)
  • Usually for women between 21 and 30
  • Compensated at around $5,000 – $7,000
  • For single recipients, for same sex couple recipients, or for a recipient who is able to carry her own child, but doesn’t have any viable eggs, so uses an egg donor but not a surrogate

Being a gestational carrier is:

  • Being matched with known intended parents through an agency or through self-matching
  • Having had your own children that you gave birth to as a requirement
  • At least a 9-month commitment (after adding in matching, legal, and preparation for embryo transfer, more like 12 months – 18 months
  • In no way being genetically related to the embryo (except for in very particular cases)
  • For surrogates aged 21 to 40
  • Compensated usually between $20,000 and $45,000
  •  For intended parents who are not able to be pregnant with their own babies

Egg donors and surrogates do have sometimes have similarities as well, like having regular menstrual cycles, being physically and emotionally healthy, being non-smokers, not using prescription or recreational drugs, and willing to make a big commitment to helping someone else with the greatest gift – the chance at their own baby! If you have more questions, or are ready to learn more about becoming a surrogate, please contact us!