What you need to know to donate eggs as an LGBTQ+ individual
At our Center for LGBTQ+ Fertility, we occasionally receive questions about LGBTQ+ egg donation. We believe that not only should everyone be able to build their family, but also that everyone should be able to help others build their families if they feel moved to do so. We welcome eligible donor candidates of all sexualities and gender identities. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+, community you may have some additional questions or concerns about the egg donation process. In this article, we’ll discuss specific considerations for LGBTQ+ individuals donating eggs.
Is LGBTQ+ Egg Donation Allowed?
Yes! Candidates for egg donation must meet several federal requirements to become a donor. However, these requirements should not involve gender identity or sexuality. The criteria are set by both federal and state governments, professional medical associations like the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), and individual fertility clinics. Typically, donors must pass physical and mental health screenings, including ovarian function screening, and test negative for any infectious diseases. The application to donate may include questions about sexual activity. Usually, these questions have a medical purpose and the answers remain confidential and are not shared with intended parents.
However, we should note that individual clinics may have more discriminatory policies. The most widely used criteria don’t disqualify donors based on sexuality or gender. Each clinic may set its own rules, and those sometimes may be biased. At PNWF, we fully support LGBTQ+ egg donation and welcome all donors and intended parents.
Can People Receiving Gender-Affirming Treatment Donate Eggs?
Eligibility to donate while receiving gender-affirming treatment depends on the type of treatment. Unfortunately, candidates that have taken or are currently taking testosterone cannot donate, as the hormones impact ovarian function. On the other hand, patients who have received gender-affirming surgery may be able to donate if their ovaries still function and are accessible for an egg retrieval.
How Will the Donation Process Affect Me?
LGBTQ+ egg donors may face specific considerations or challenges from the egg donation process. Donors take daily hormone medications that have similar side effects to a menstrual cycle (ex. cramping, moodswings, chest tenderness, etc.). The process also requires extended monitoring of and discussion about the reproductive organs. Some individuals may find that this process triggers or worsens gender dysphoria. The donor application process for all candidates involves an interview with a counselor. We recommend discussing any concerns about the possible dysphoric effects of donation with this counselor. They can help you decide whether donating is right for you.
Unfortunately, some LGBTQ+ egg donors across the US report encountering gender- or hetero-normative assumptions during their donation experience. At PNWF, we are committed to providing inclusive and respectful care for all our patients and donors. We are always eager to hear how we can do even better.
Can LGBTQ+ Donors Have Sex During the Egg Donation Process?
It’s true, resources often say “egg donors must abstain from sex during their donation cycle” and leave it at that. We realize that sex can cover a large spectrum of activity and interactions. Understandably, LGBTQ+ egg donors can sometimes feel uncomfortable asking for clarification on if or how this restriction applies to them.
There are three reasons to abstain from sex during the donation cycle: the risks of sexually transmitted infections, accidental pregnancy, and injury. These risks apply in various ways to different kinds of sexual activity.
- Sexual activity of any kind increases your risk of contracting a sexually transmitted infection, which can interrupt or cancel your donation cycle.
- The medications used during an egg donation cycle make donors extremely fertile, meaning they can get pregnant very easily. For this reason, donors should completely avoid sexual intercourse with partners with sperm from the start of their donation cycle until your next menstrual cycle after the egg retrieval.
- The hormonal medications also cause the ovaries to grow substantially. This increases the risk of ovarian torsion, a serious medical condition where the ovaries become twisted and require surgical treatment. Physical activities, including all forms of sexual intercourse, can cause ovarian torsion. The risk of ovarian torsion typically goes away a couple of days after the egg retrieval.
- After the egg retrieval, donors should continue to avoid inserting anything into the vagina for one week to prevent the risk of infection.
In general, egg donation involves reducing or modifying sexual activity for all donors, including LGBTQ+ donors. However, keep in mind this change is temporary. You may also be able to incorporate safer forms of intimacy during your donation cycle. If you have any questions about specific activities and their relative risks during egg donation, we encourage you to ask your fertility team.
Egg Donation Can Be a Rewarding Experience for LGBTQ+ Donors
Many intended parents who use donor eggs are also LGBTQ+. Egg donation may allow them to have a biologically related child or experience pregnancy and birth. For all intended parents who use donor eggs, donation allows them to have a much-loved and wanted child in ways that would not otherwise be possible.
While egg donation can involve some additional considerations around gender identity, if you feel strongly about donating your eggs, we would love to work with you towards a positive and rewarding donation experience.