Often one of the first steps in your fertility journey will likely be to choose an egg donor.
Because it’s such a critical part of the process, many intended parents feel overwhelmed by the importance of the decision and the factors to consider. Take a deep breath and read our guide to organizing your thoughts and desires when embarking on a donor search.
For many intended parents, the donor’s appearance is their most important criteria. Some recipients are interested in donors with physical characteristics similar to their own. You might also want to consider the donor’s academic history, personality, religious and ethnic background, and career. Intended parents may also want to meet prospective donors, either in person or via Skype or Zoom. These meetings can help give recipients a better sense of a donor’s personality, temperament, and mannerisms.
The health history of the donor and her family — which should be provided to you — is another significant criteria for many intended parents. You might want to consider whether anyone in the donor’s family has a history of major illness, allergies, or psychological issues. Are the donor’s parents, siblings, and grandparents still living? How old are they, and what medical conditions do they have?
If you choose a previous donor, she most likely will have already had genetic testing done. If you choose a first-time donor, these tests will be done as part of the screening process.
Intended fathers will also have genetic testing performed, particularly if the donor is a carrier for any genetic condition. Your doctor will review both your and the donor’s results to ensure that you are genetically compatible.
Deciding Between an Experienced and First-Time Donor
Intended parents also must decide whether to use a first-time or previous donor. Some prefer to use an experienced donor because she has been through the process, knows what to expect, and has prior cycle records that can be reviewed by the doctor. Predictability of the donor’s response to the cycle medications is one perceived benefit to choosing a previous donor. We have done many cycles where the results differed from those in previous cycles, so the bottom line is that the body is not a machine and results can vary.
Although less is known about how a first-time donor will respond to the stimulation medications, she will undergo hormonal testing and ultrasound, both of which are helpful in gauging her suitability as an egg donor. Both previous and first-time donors can go on to have successful cycles, regardless of prior cycle history.
Deciding Between: Anonymous, Semi-Known, and Known Donors
Whether or not a donor is open to future contact with intended parents and/or donor- conceived children is another factor to consider when choosing a donor. The topic is covered in the legal contract with the donor, which is created later in the cycle, but it’s important to know from the start where the donor stands on the issue. There are several options, depending on your and the donor’s desires.
Anonymous egg donor: This an egg donor you do not meet or have any contact with. You will not know her full name or any personal details beyond those in her profile. The donor would know nothing about the Intended Parents, or the donation cycle, other than how many eggs were retrieved, and in some instances, whether or not a pregnancy resulted. You may not have any contact with the donor in the future, although a legal contract that allows for contact in the case of medical issues is generally preferred.
Semi-known egg donor: You may choose to Skype with or meet the donor, but not to exchange last names. You may agree to create and exchange anonymous email addresses for the purpose of potential future contact.
Known egg donor: The intended parents and donor may decide to exchange first and last names in the legal contract, and to share contact information with each other for the purpose of either staying in touch or reaching each other in the future.
Intended parents can choose from egg donors located all over the United States. It’s important to be aware of and budget for the additional expenses associated with donor travel.