Hard times call for desperate egg donation?

The recession is leading more women to consider parting with their ova.

Published January 27, 2009 11:40AM (EST)

In these stark economic times, what's a gal to do when the creditors have the phone ringing off the hook or when her boss shovels her onto the fast-growing pile of the nation's unemployed? For an increasing number of women, it means considering selling their eggs for anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000, reports the Boston Herald.

“We’re seeing more donor applications because people are looking at more creative ways to get money,” says Sanford M. Benardo, founder of Northeast Assisted Fertility Group, who has seen weekly applications double in the past couple of months. Wellesley's Prospective Families has seen a 30 percent increase in egg-donation inquiries and, according to a CNN article headlined "Dim economy drives women to donate eggs for profit," fertility clinics across the country are reporting a recent increase.

A glance at that CNN headline might spark fears that the recession will lead a large swath of women to part with their ova under financial pressure and then later suffer serious regret. (It's also worth noting that there has been scant study of the long-term health effects of egg donation.) But keep in mind that the reported increase is in interest, not actual donation.

There is also a strict approval process for accepting donors, including a screening of medical history and a series of psychological tests meant to exclude those who are all about the cashova; the vast majority of applicants are turned away. Plenty of applicants reject themselves after being lectured about the required tests, daily hormone injections, ultrasounds  and, ultimately, the needle stuck through their vaginal wall. It is not by any means easy money, and maybe that indicates the level of financial desperation at play.

Of course, the recession is having an influence on the demand side of this reproductive economy as well. Amy Demma, the president of Prospective Families, says: "We are seeing a slowdown in demand for donors. I guess folks are having a hard time." It's safe to say.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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