5 Bodily Fluids You Can Exchange for Cash

John Mayer likes to say that your body is a wonderland, but if you're into selling bodily fluids, it's more like a cash machine. If you haven't done it, it might sound pretty extreme — and pretty gross — but there's a booming business in bodily fluids. (See also: How to Sell Your Hair for Cash)

So what bodily fluids are worth money? And what's the cost to donors in terms of their time, effort and, perhaps most importantly, their discomfort? Here are five bodily fluids you can sell.

1. Plasma

Plasma is probably the simplest, least questionable bodily fluid you can sell. This clear fluid contains enzymes and antibodies and is the largest component of human blood. Even though a lot of plasma goes to pharmaceutical companies, it is used to create treatments for people with blood clotting disorders, autoimmune diseases, or even serious burns, so it's a move you can feel pretty good about.

What It Involves

As long as you aren't too needle-shy, donation is relatively painless; blood is drawn from your arm and pulled through a machine that separates the plasma from the rest of the blood, which is returned to your body. The process takes about an hour. Even so, you have to be at least 18 years of age, 110 pounds, and will be drilled with rather personal questions to determine whether you might have viruses like HIV and hepatitis.

The Payout

Blood banks set their own rates for plasma, but they generally fall in the $20-$50 range per donation. According to the American Red Cross, it's safe for healthy people to donate plasma about once per month.

2. Sperm

For a young guy who lacks money, sperm donation can seem like the ultimate gig. It pays well, and the process involved is, um, pretty familiar. (The vast majority of donors are college students.)

What It Involves

Sperm donation kind of seems like getting cash for something you may (or may not, no judgments…) be doing anyway, but it's a lot more complicated than that. You have to be tall (at least 5'10" or taller, depending on the sperm bank.) You have to be smart… or at least be enrolled in college. You have to be between the ages of 18 and 35. In terms of of your chances, most donors are caucasian (most recipients are white couples), of a healthy weight, and not redheads.

If you fit the bill, you'll still have to sit through a job-interview-style round of questions about you, your life, and your future goals. This will be followed by a battery of health questions, including ultra-personal ones about your health status, your sex life, and your sexual partners. Even if you make it through this gauntlet of challenges, you'll have to hand over your first two donations free of charge, so that your little swimmers can be tested.

The Payout

Sperm banks set their own rates, but payouts range from $30 to $200 per, um, donation. However, if you're accepted as a donor, you'll often have to sign a contract to donate weekly over a long period of time — like six months to a year — during which time your checks may be held in escrow until your term is up. The money might be good, but it isn't fast and it isn't as easy as it sounds.

3. Eggs

I really don't know if eggs are a liquid or not. What I do know is that they are donated to people who are unable to conceive, and they provide a very high payout compared to most other fluids. So, let's just assume they come in liquid form and roll with it, okay?

What It Involves

Donating eggs is no picnic. In fact, just getting to the actual egg donation (and payment) stage takes time, energy, and some degree of physical discomfort. First, donors have to fill out a questionnaire. If that's accepted, they will be asked to come in for a physical exam, psychological testing, blood tests, and a genetic screening. If you're approved as a donor, you'll have to wait at least a month to donate.

Next comes the donation cycle, and that's no picnic either. You will be injected with fertility drugs to stimulate the development of a number of eggs. Over the next two weeks, you'll have to continue to inject yourself with hormones and make daily morning visits to the clinic so that they can adjust your dosage and check on your progress. After seven to 12 days of this carnival ride, you'll be ready to have your eggs retrieved. You'll be anesthetized, and the eggs will be removed with a syringe. The procedure isn't painful, but the hormonal changes make it physically demanding, and mild side effects like moodiness and fluid retention can last up to two weeks. There are also some very serious side effects (although they're rare) to consider with this procedure.

The Payout

Well, it's big — $6,000 to $10,000 per donation depending on the market, the desirability of your particular donation, and the donation center you choose. If you work full time, that'll be offset by some lost time at work and some serious hassles, not to mention potential health consequences. There are no firm rules on how many times women can donate, but most clinics ask that they only do so a few times because the long-term health risks of the procedure are unknown.

4. Breast Milk

If you're a new mother, you may be carrying the equivalent of liquid gold: breast milk. And because some moms have way too much, while others have very little (or none at all), a group of moms got the idea to share the love by donating or selling breast milk to those who can't produce their own.

What It Involves

Pumping your breast milk and shipping it, on ice, to people who need it. There are online services to facilitate this process, most prominently onlythebreast.com, the Craigslist of breast milk exchange. You could probably even post your own ad in your community.

The Payout

On breast milk exchanges, milk tends to sell for $1.50 to $3.00 per ounce. To put that in perspective, a baby needs between 13 and 42 ounces of milk per day, depending on his or her weight — at $3 an ounce, that's $39 to $126 a day. Yowza!

5. Urine

Why would someone want to buy your pee? Because those who are subject to drug tests — whether for work or sports or parole — may not be able to pass those tests with their own urine. And, where there's demand, there will be supply.

What It Involves

Producing, packaging, and shipping your pee to other people. If you're really enterprising, you could even make a business out of it. In the late 1990s, a South Carolina man produced 50 urine samples a day, selling more than 15,000 samples per year before the state shut him down. Several other states have since passed similar laws.

The Payout

The going rate appears to be about $20 per ounce — and possibly jail time.

Whether it's a tiny condo in a bad part of town or a bag of someone else's urine, if there's enough demand for something, it will become valuable. Why do people sell bodily fluids for money? Simple answer: Because they can. That's just the way economies work.

Have you ever parted with a bodily fluid for cash? Would you?

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Guest's picture

I donated my eggs 4 times, got paid $8,000 each time. I'm unable to donate any more, as last time I donated one of my ovaries got hyperstimulated during the procedure and I almost died. But it was fun while it lasted, it's nice to help out families who can't expand. As a side note, the procedure is quite painful. While you're not awake during the retrieval, your ovaries swell up due to the eggs being removed from them and you get bad cramping for a few days.