I'm not sure how much a man makes by donating his sperm but I think the going rate is somewhere around $50 a pop, give or take.
A woman, however, can make thousands by donating a single egg.
I have read many ads in journals and magazines in my town, looking for women to donate their eggs. The pay range is anywhere from $5000 to $10000 - certainly nothing to sneeze at.
According to CNN, "As the nation's economy is slumping, some fertility clinics say interest in donating has surged.
"We are seeing an increase in inquiries but we're not sure if it's due to the economy or increased awareness," said Dr. Susan Willman, a reproductive endocrinologist at the Reproductive Science Center of the Bay Area. Last July, the Reproductive Science Center received 120 calls inquiring about egg donation. This year that number jumped to 158 calls.
"We are so inundated right now," Robin von Halle, president of Alternative Reproductive Resources, told CNN.
Von Halle said 30 to 50 inquiries a day from potential donors come in to her Chicago, Illinois, agency, which connects would-be parents with donors and surrogates. A year ago, it would have been 10 to 30, she said.
Talking to other people in the field has convinced von Halle that applications from potential donors are up "across the board."
The increase in inquiries correlates with tough economic times, von Halle said. "I know that's why they call us, for that financial remuneration, she said. "They don't like to openly admit that, but some people are saying that."
"I think there is a spike more for financial reasons," said Mahshid Albrecht, manager of Donor Services at the Reproductive Science Center. "But is that the only reason? Probably not."
An egg donor is typically compensated between $5,000 and $10,000. Experts say that while most women donate out of desire to help infertile couples, the financial allure is real.
"It's important to understand that if a young woman walks into a clinic and says she wants to be an egg donor, the clinic doesn't just sit down and say 'Sure' and hand them money," said Dr. Mark Hornstein, president of the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology. "There are national guidelines. It's a tightly orchestrated, stringent process."
And it's not an easy process.
Before a single egg is cultivated, a donor must undergo a battery of psychological and physical exams. That vetting process can last from 30 to 40 days, and 90 percent of women are eliminated before a single egg is culled.
Once a donor is selected, she is injected with powerful hormones for up to three weeks to promote egg production. There are also blood tests and up to 10 visits to the fertility center for ultrasound monitoring.
"It is such a long, agonizing process," Michelle said. "It's six to eight weeks of poking and probing and blood work."
Then there are the risks. The most dangerous is a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, when ovaries become enlarged. While most short-term risks are mild -- bloating, weight gain, and abdominal pain -- less is known about long-term risks.
Women who smoke, have a body mass index above 30, or who have a history of gynecologic problems are ineligible to donate."
On a personal note - I couldn't sell my eggs. I still have all my positive pregnancy tests from all my kids - labeled and stored. I can't even part with those! So I just couldn't do it, nor could I ever surrogate. It takes a certain kind of person and that person isn't me. I've never felt "it's just an egg" or "it's not a baby yet". I'm overly-emotional when it comes to my children - born, unborn, potential or otherwise - doesn't matter.
However, thankfully not all women are this way and allow other couples to have children of their own, while making a tidy profit for themselves, albeit with a lot of hard work.
But many have ethical questions. Some pro, some against.
When it comes down to it - is this baby-selling? Why should a woman make a large profit by essentially selling a (potential) baby? Why shouldn't she - she's risking a lot and goes through an arduous process. It's her body, she can do as she likes.
Why don't these couples just adopt one of the millions of children already born on this planet who need a home? Why should a couple be denied a pregnancy and the chance for at least one half of the couple to be the biological parent?
How do you feel about our troubled economy seeing an upswing in women selling their eggs? Is it ethically troubling to you or is it a quid pro quo situation where all involved benefit?
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