By Andrea Rodrigo BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 11/12/2015

Choosing either an egg donor and a sperm donor can turn out to be a rather complicated process, since in the US both anonymous and known donation are allowed.

When making up your mind about starting a fertility treatment using donor eggs or sperm, it should be clear which type of donation we wish to engage into:

  • Anonymous donation: In this case, you wish that it is the fertility clinic who chooses a donor for you. However, you can still share your preferences.
  • Known donation: If you prefer to be the ones who select the person who will deliver her gametes. In this sense, pre-establishing which criteria are you going to follow to do so is recommended.

Choosing a donor

In case you decide not to pursue an anonymous donation, in which case a donor will be selected by the clinic, you should bear in mind a series of aspects when choosing your prospective donor. Thus, you can decide between either of the two following options:

  • Totally known donation: a friend, relative or acquaintance will be the one chosen to donate her eggs.
  • Egg donor database: the donor will be selected out of an egg donor database provided by the egg donor bank or agency.

In case you decide to pursue the former choice, that is, if we are the ones who choose the person that will donate her gametes for our fertility treatment, then guidelines given by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the ASRM (American Society for Reproductive Medicine) should be taken into account. According to such recommendations, the person we choose to be our donor must undergo exactly the same screening testing as any anonymous donor. Only in case the prospective donor passes them, she will be allowed to donate her eggs.

Conversely, if you choose to select a donor from an egg donor database, the situation will vary according to how much information we wish to get about the donor. In this sense, it is possible to base our decision on two types of information. In the first case, you can focus on the donor physical characteristics (e.g. eye, skin or hair color), educational level, occupation, medical history, personality traits, etc. In the second one, the prospective donor is chosen after a personal interview that will allow you to find out more about the candidate.

All the above means that we can choose between selecting the egg donor after meeting her in person or by finding out which her features are basing our decision on paper-based lists. The latter case, in which pictures may be included, is known as “semi-known donation” across the US.

Requirements to become an egg donor

To be included in the list of potential egg donors, either in a fertility clinic or an egg donor bank, the FDA and the ASRM have established the following guidelines:

  • Being between the ages of 21 and 34. If the potential donor is younger than 21 or over 34, it must be indicated to the recipient through an informed consent.
  • Being healthy as well as free from any genetic disease likely to be developed by offspring.
  • Undergoing a thorough genetic screening based upon family history.
  • Proving that she is indeed psychologically prepared to get started with the whole process.
  • Not being at risk of AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases (STD), or any other infectious disease transmission.

Furthermore, after being accepted, the donor has to attend regular check-ups every 6 months through the period of time in which she continues being an active donor. If the results show risk of STD transmission, anal sex evidence, or in case she has had a piercing or tattoo done in recent months, among other aspects that may affect the recipient or the baby-to-be, she is likely to be disqualified as a donor.

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Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
BSc, MSc
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information
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One comment

    1. megan glamour

      Genius! So if I want my donor to have a small noise I can choose it too? Or that’s being too demanding? You know, I wouldn’t like my baby to be ugly…