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IVF - In Vitro Fertilization

A human harvested egg is fertilized via IVF – In Vitro Fertilization under a controlled medical environment. The number of women donating eggs to brokers or fertility clinics, as well as the number of women using IVF, has been increasing steadily worldwide over the last decade. Image: Lifeline

(WNN) Denver, Colorado, U.S., AMERICAS: As U.S. legislators nearly miss the continuation of a partial government shutdown and a midnight debt ceiling deadline that had been predicted to send the country’s borrowing power down the river on October 17, 2013, more and more women in the United States are opting to make money in an unusual way. Data is showing that more women are donating their eggs for a fee. from $5,000 up to $10,000 USD per ovulation cycle.

To help bring more money into household budgets with a sagging U.S. economy, other women have joined women who need to bring more money in by selling their hair or breast milk, outlines economy reporter Victoria Stilwell for Bloomberg News.

The actions are all part of an attempt to have more ‘cash on hand’ say the women who are involved in the money making efforts.

Although egg donation is a controversial topic among reproductive rights activists, donating eggs for money, a majority today used by fertility clinics, is not a process that is considered completely safe by some medical experts.

There are “potential risks associated with egg retrieval,” outlines the National Academy of Sciences Press in a 2007 report booklet on the safety, or not, of egg removal for stem cell research.

“The oocyte donation process is not without its risks to the donors, and the [U.S.] California Institute for Regenerative Medicine contracted with the National Academies to assemble a workshop that would bring together experts from various areas to address the questions of what is known about these risks, what needs to be known, and what can be done to minimize them,” says the report.

Egg retrieval surgery takes approximately 36 hours under a staging process that some medical experts think may place some women at possible health risk.

“Donors are given doses of hormones to trigger the production of more eggs than would normally be produced, and this hormone treatment can have various side effects,” outlines the National Academy of Sciences report.

The medical process in retrieving eggs in what is called ‘controlled hyperstimumlation’ of the ovary and the push for multiple egg harvesting can cause other medical conditions that affect the health of some women. The ovary donation process includes 10 days with injections of hormones that affect the pituitary gland as well as the ovary. Forced ovulation through the injection of human chorionic gonadotropin has been known to cause OHSS – Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome, a condition that can lead to, at the more manageable level, nausea and vomiting.

At its most severe level OHSS has been known to cause death.

“OHSS occurs when the ovaries become swollen and painful due to the development of an excessive number of follicles, the incomplete removal of follicles, or an excessive level of estrogen present in the bloodstream. OHSS may cause nausea and vomiting, abdominal discomfort, shortness of breath and labored breathing and can rapidly progress to a serious lifethreatening condition, even resulting in death. In addition, OHSS carries an increased risk of clotting disorders, renal failure and ovarian twisting,” says the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, an organization based in Washington D.C. that brings medical experts and women advocates together to work to educate women about their reproductive health and reproductive freedom.

Some women who donate their eggs at a young age, especially women who are age 18 to 25 when they begin to donate their eggs, also face a greater risk for cancer in their mid 40s. The risk for women who have undergone multiple egg donations can result in up to a 50 percent increase in cancer, says  2009 study reported by Oxford Journals through The American Journal of Epidemiology.

The business of egg donation through the maze of IVF – In Vitro Fertilization clinics, including international egg donation brokers, may be edging closer to a slippery slope with a smorgasbord of genetic choices for prospective mothers who want a more intelligent or artistic baby, or a baby with specific racial genetics. Those donors who score higher on IQ tests, especially college-age women, can get higher payments for their eggs.

But the bottom line for many egg donors remains to be a financial need that brings them into clinics that harvest eggs as the U.S. economy continues to ‘under’ perform.

“On May 18 [2012], The Daily featured an ad from an alumnus seeking a ‘genius egg donor’ who would receive ‘excellent compensation.’ The egg donor must be high-achieving, with high standardized test scores, several awards from high school and college and an A grade-point average. The alumnus set forth such exacting standards hoping that his child will eventually attend Stanford or another top university,” said a release by Stanford University’s newspaper The Stanford Daily.

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