Finance Magazine

You Can Sell Your Eggs to Pay Down Debt

By Kathleen O'Malley @frugalportland

Please note: the following is a very true, very personal story of one of the craziest things I did to pay down debt. It might offend your religion, your politics, or your general sensitivities about the world. But it’s something I did, myself, of my own free will, and I will be monitoring the comment section very closely to take out any comments that I perceive as even a little offensive. This is a story that has taken me two years to write, so be nice!

Would you sell your eggs to pay down debt? I did. Three times.

I saw the ads everywhere. They were on Craigslist, when I was looking for a new job. It seemed like they followed me around. $6000 when you donate your eggs!

I remembered a girl in college who did it. They only paid her $2000. It sounded like a good deal. So I filled out their application.

I was living in DC at the time, and I can’t remember if I was working or not. Seems like maybe I was between jobs, because the clinic was a 45 minute commute and I had to make it several times a week.

They call it donating your eggs so you don’t feel like a mercenary, but let’s not mince words here: you sell your eggs to a donor. In fact, you fill out your medical history, you get official copies of your college transcript, you even give them the cutest pictures of you as a baby, you do a physical exam, you take a series of quizzes, you meet with a psychologist to make sure you’re not going to become a crazy stalker, then you wait.

Prospective couples come in and go through a binder of women (what’s up, dated political reference! I was in fact in a binder full of women). Most, I have to assume, want someone a lot like they are, or perhaps the way they aspire to be. Similar ethnic backgrounds, similar upbringing, similar grades in college, etc. People pay a lot of money to use a donor’s eggs, so they’re allowed to see all the things they can see. That is, everything except the actual donor.

What to Expect If You Decide to Sell Your Eggs

You can expect to go to the “doctor’s office” (I use quotation marks because this is not your average run-of-the-mill doctor’s office — it’s really fancy) several times a week for a few months.

You can expect to take birth control, then anti-birth control.

You can expect to inject yourself with a variety of hormones.

You can expect to get swollen when it becomes time to harvest.

You can expect to lose all sense of modesty when it comes to the exam room.

You can expect to be a part of actually very interesting science.

You can expect to be compensated.

You can expect to learn a lot about the reproductive cycle, specifically yours.

You can expect to be judged by your friends and family. People who don’t have a similar opinion as to where life begins will call you names you won’t like to hear.

Why I Sold My Eggs

The first time I did it, I was toying with alternative ways to make money. I was in my 20s, and I wasn’t in debt, or if I was, it was that gauzy pre-acknowledgement that there was a problem stage (or step -1 in the “get a hold of your finances, you dingbat”), but I didn’t have a lot of money.

I’d never been paid a lump sum before, and six thousand dollars was at least three months of work.

I was able to disassociate from the “mommy” feelings and could see it as a period. I’ve never thought about the potential kids.

It sounded easy. Like something I could do.

It wasn’t easy, but I understood why I got paid as much as I did. It’s work. I had to rearrange my life for it. I had to miss my cousin’s wedding because of the way the dates fell.

They Pay More Each Time

That’s how they get you. If you think $6,000 is a lot, how’s $6,500?

And you know how it goes already, so you do it. They cap you at a certain point, but that’s not a problem. You don’t want to do it forever. You can’t do it forever.

In fact, if you’re past 30 and thinking that this might be a viable option for you, it’s too late. They want young women because their eggs are healthier.

I donated twice when I was living in Washington, DC, and the way it works is as follows:

  • Recipient selects donor
  • Recipient and donor get on the same cycle
  • Donor takes hormones that make her next ovulation a MAJOR egg drop
  • On specified day, donor and recipient go to the same clinic
  • Eggs (20+) come out of donor, get inseminated, some become embryos
  • Embryos (1-3, or 8 if you’re the octomom’s clinic) get implanted
  • Some become babies, some don’t
  • Some embryos get frozen for the next time (either in a few months if it didn’t take, or a few years if there’s a desire for a sibling)
  • Donor takes the money and moves on with her life, waiting until she’s selected again.

The Last Time I Donated

I moved back to Portland, and realized the extent of my financial mess. Got my head out of the sand, so to speak. I realized I could donate again and that would really be a punch to the mountain of debt I was in.

So, I went through the process again, thinking it would be easier than the first time. However, I was soon to find that this kind of clinic is not like a hospital. They’re private entities that do not have to share information with one another, and because the location I’d used before was in Virginia, near the CIA, they had similar thoughts on sharing information. So I started somewhat fresh. They gave enough information to green light me, and within a few months, I had $7000 in my pocket.

That last time, every last bit of the $7000 went toward my debt of highest pain, which was a credit card.

I had to pay taxes on it, of course. The clinic gave me a 1099-MISC.

Should You Sell Your Eggs?

I can’t answer that question for you. Only you can. I am too old to do it now (and if I keep on this track, I’ll end up on the other side of egg donation, which would only be fitting for the universe to work that way), but I am not sorry I did it.

Had I been more responsible with the money from the first two times, maybe I wouldn’t even have this blog! Because I would have paid off the debt and moved on.

But that’s not the way the story went. I made a terrible financial decision. I got into debt. Then I got out of it.

Would I have donated if I didn’t have a five-figure debt to work myself out of? It’s hard to tell. But at least I know, even if I don’t have children of my own, my genes are moving on in this world.

And that’s pretty weird.

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