Recently, China suspended its over thirty-five year policy of permitting just one child per family to allow couples to have a second child. This change was due to economic reasons; labor shortage and large aging population. Many policy experts foresaw a huge increase in babies in the years to come.
But, what many experts have failed to account for is the increase rates of infertility of those couples who are in their peak reproductive ages.
Due to environmental issues and the widespread use of toxic pesticides in crops as well as the trend for marrying later and trying for children later, and effects from unsafe prior abortions, the infertility rate in China in rising and at an all-time high. Infertility in China impacts around 15 percent of the population from ages 20-49. Some medical experts have even said that infertility is one of China’s most serious health concerns. This is ironic given that China has the world’s largest population.
Just as in the United States, many infertility issues are due to the female partner’s egg quality and quantity. For some women, IVF will help and they will be able to use their eggs. But, for other women, they will need the help of an egg donor.
Some Chinese women turn to the underground egg donor agencies in China, who recruit female university students to be egg donors. Egg donors in China tend to be educated and attractive. The egg donation process in China is very similar to what egg donors in the US go through- screening, physical examination, and the actual cycle and egg retrieval. Chinese egg donors could earn around $3,000- $5,000 US, depending on their education, height, blood type, place of birth and if they have single or double eyelids. The compensation is provided after the retrieval process. Also, similarly to the US, many donors donate multiple times.
But, the problem is, in China, egg donation is considered illegal. The Ministry of Health banned commercial egg donation in 2003, allowing for egg donation only when there are eggs remaining from women who had already gone through IVF. However, there are still many underground agencies in China that provide egg donor and surrogacy services. There are also some fertility clinics who also provide these services.
Therefore, many Chinese patients who need egg come to the United States, where egg donation is legal. The benefit is that the process is legal and the medical care is of high quality. However, in the US, there are not as many Chinese egg donors to choose from. Also, usually educated and attractive Chinese egg donors request higher compensations than Caucasian donors. Additionally, when couples from China use a surrogate, there are other advantages as well, such as US citizenship for the baby. Therefore, for many Chinese couples, it is worth the higher fees to have a safe and legal process in the US.