The economic downturn may even be affecting the decisions of egg donors, who are paid between $4,000 to $10,000 to donate eggs to infertile women undergoing IVF.
In another study presented at the ASRM meeting, researchers found little change over the past few years in prospective egg donors' average age, education level and marital status. However, they did find a change in what donors planned on doing with the money.
Researchers at Reproductive Medicine Associates of New York and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City compared the screening interview records of 54 women who sought to donate eggs between 2002 and 2004 against the records of 46 women who sought to donate eggs in 2008.
About 57 percent of the women said they planned to use the money for schooling in 2008, compared to 28 percent in 2002-2004. Yet fewer said they planned to pay down debt or save the money in 2008 than in the earlier period.
Despite a difficult economic climate, many women who donate eggs do it for reasons beyond the money, McGovern reasoned. Donating eggs requires substantial time, effort and discomfort, including physical and psychological screenings, daily injections of fertility drugs that can cause side-effects including headache, cramping and bloating, multiple trips to the clinic, ultrasounds and blood tests.
"Egg donors don't tend to be very mercenary," McGovern said. "I find them to be a very generous group. It's a lot of work, not like being a sperm donor."
The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has more on fertility treatment.
SOURCES: Peter McGovern, M.D., director, division of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack, N.J. and the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey in Newark; Andrew La Barbera, Ph.D., scientific director, American Society for Reproductive Medicine; presentations, Oct. 20, 2009, annual meeting, American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Atlanta