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a flier promoting the need for egg donators

“Earn up to $50,000 dollars!” “Help a family!” “Donate your eggs!”

Such slogans appear regularly on college bulletin boards and the social media feeds of many young women across the United States, advertising the altruistic—and financial—benefits of donating their eggs to would-be parents.

But behind these advertisements lies a poorly regulated industry that buys and sells human eggs, with potential negative health effects for donors.

Unlike countries such as the United Kingdom and Canada, the United States has no federal regulations that specifically address advertising to potential egg donors. No U.S. agency tracks the long-term health effects of egg donation. And there is little oversight of the donation process—which involves injecting someone with hormones for at least ten days, and then piercing the vaginal wall with a thick needle to extract eggs from the ovary.

Initially, it may seem that egg donation businesses are at least somewhat regulated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), after all, oversees any establishment that recovers, processes, or distributes human reproductive tissue, including eggs. These clinics must register with FDA and list their... see more