As one clinic worker tells Nerve: "We're seeing people who might not otherwise do this but for their economic condition."
First off, only a small percentage of women qualify for the really big bucks of myth; to qualify at all a woman must be between 21 and 30, not have traveled (mad cow), and be healthy. Genetic disorders, depression, a family history of cancer or diabetes, and even piercings and tattoos can all be deal-breakers. And of that population (whose family members have, apparently, never visited a doctor), only those with excellent SATs are double-digit desirable.
Then, it's a time commitment: the competitive application process is involved and prolonged, and the actual donation requires a number of appointments over several months. And then there are the health risks. As Nerve describes it,
The most hazardous side effect, Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS), is a complication occasionally seen in women who take certain fertility medicines that stimulate egg production. The symptoms of OHSS can include bloating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive weight gain, shortness of breath, and sometimes kidney or liver failure. In addition, during the procedure, the patient is in immediate danger, as a careless doctor can puncture the donor's bowel, bladder, or blood vessels. And while the long-term physical effects of egg donation have not been well studied (the practice has only existed for about twenty-five years), some evidence suggests an increased risk of ovarian cancer and early menopause. Women can only produce so many eggs in their lifetime.
Which is not to say that no one should do it - many women apparently talk about the altruism of the gesture and the satisfaction of helping increasing numbers of applicants have a family, to say nothing off paying off debts - simply that porn and a cup, this isn't. For a long time doctors have worried that the sky-high potential payments have made donors cavalier about the risks of the procedure. Indeed, this is the rationale behind Great Britain's policy of setting a £250 cap (incidental costs and earnings lost) on such payments. However, the increasing demand - and the open-secret practice of couples going abroad for eggs - is causing the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, a watchdog, to review their policy. (None of it an issue for those of us with diabetes genes or bad math scores, of course - our eggs, like Veruca Salt, don't make the cut.)
Fall Harvest [Nerve]