The Difference Between Egg Donation and Gestational Surrogacy

Egg Donation. Gestational Surrogacy. Do they go together? Are they the same? These terms can all get SO confusing! Allow us to help. Here are our fuss free descriptions of both.

Egg Donation: When you are an egg donor, you are donating your genetic material…your eggs. The DNA is yours. The children that come from these eggs (generally multiple eggs are retrieved each donation cycle) are yours, genetically speaking (NOT that you are keeping them….you did NOT sign up for that). You can choose to be an unknown donor, which means the recipient family won’t know you and you won’t know them, but let’s be honest, they are gonna know a WHOLE lot about you. They’ll know your medical history, education and family history, but don’t worry…they won’t know any specifics that would lead them to finding you. Most egg donations are done this way.  Be cautious as you may see reference to “anonymous” egg donation. In this day and age, with things like 23 and Me and, it is unlikely that any donor will have any assurance of complete anonymity as time goes on!

Gestational Surrogacy: A gestational surrogate, like egg donation, is donating something as well…only it’s not her eggs. It’s her uterus space and time and love and energy! Once the donated egg (see above) or the intended mother’s egg meets the donated sperm or intended father’s sperm and it becomes an embryo, it is transferred into the gestational surrogate’s uterus. Unlike with the egg donor, gestational surrogates and the intended parents usually have a relationship throughout the process. This woman is carrying your baby for nine months…it’s a bit difficult NOT to have a relationship with her!

So what are the main differences between the two in terms of compensation and qualification? Here are the main things:

    • Age—HUGE DIFFERENCE. Egg donation centers prefer you to be under the age 28-30 because egg quality is known to deteriorate after your 20s. Some women associate this with the age of gestational surrogates as well, but if you’re older, don’t fret! You can still be a gestational surrogate! Surrogates can actually be accepted (if medically qualified) to the age of 45 in some cases but full disclosure — surrogate applicants older than 40 tend to be a bit harder to match with intended parents. 

    • Time Period—Looking for more of a short-term option to help a family fulfill their dream of growing their family? Probably want to go the route of egg donation. The average time period for this is usually a six-month commitment. Still a decent time commitment, but shorter than gestational surrogacy, which is generally around a year to 18 months (no…it’s not just the 9 months you grow the baby). 

    • Compensation—Because of the difference between time periods (see above) and because of the more involved process, gestational surrogates generally are compensated between $20,000-$50,000, whereas egg donors are compensated more in the range of $5,000-$7,000.

    • Requirements—In addition to the age requirement, gestational surrogates are also required to have children of their own before becoming a surrogate. There are several reasons for this, but the most basic is that looking at medical records from previous pregnancies and births shows how your body handled the process and if you are a good, low risk candidate for surrogacy. Just like any pregnancy and birth, complications can arise which can cause you to lose the ability to have more children so it’s important to make sure you’re done having your own children before becoming a surrogate. Egg donors can have had children prior to donating eggs, but it’s not a requirement that they have their own children or are done with their families.

Egg donation and gestational surrogacy are both HUGE gifts. You are giving someone the opportunity to grow their family when they otherwise may not have been able to. They do have some similarities and many differences. Hopefully this helped explain a few of them. You can read about some basic requirements for egg donation here and some basic requirements for gestational surrogacy here.

If you’re ready to grow your family via gestational surrogacy, schedule your free consultation with New England Surrogacy. If you’d like to begin your journey as a surrogate and help someone else’s dream come true, fill out a quick intake form today.