If you’re considering using an egg donor, you might be wondering, “just how exactly can I find one?” There are so many different things to think about, like, what qualities or attributes you care most about. There are also logistical concerns, such as whether you’ll opt for fresh or frozen donor eggs.
With all of these new thoughts swirling around your head, you might be wondering where to even begin. Fortunately, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out what you need to do to begin your hunt for an egg donor.
Here’s how you find an egg donor
The good news is that there are a lot of potential places to find an egg donor. Sometimes, the fertility clinic that’s helping you through your in vitro fertilization (IVF) will have a selection of approved and vetted donors for you to choose from. Other times, you may opt to contract with an outside agency or use a donor egg bank to find your perfect match (note: some clinics won’t let you use someone outside of their network).
You may even already have a donor in mind, especially if you have a close friend, sister, or cousin who has already volunteered for the position.
1. Using your clinic
If you’re using your fertility clinic, you may need to go through their pre-approved registry to find a donor. This might mean going on a waiting list, since your clinic is likely to have other hopeful parents interested in donor eggs. But, even when taking a wait into consideration, choosing a donor through your clinic has advantages, since those women have already been medically screened and have likely gone through some sort of legal vetting process.
2. Using an outside agency
For those who are able to pick a donor outside of their clinic’s network, there are egg donor agencies that help to match potential donors with hopeful parents. While they may have a larger pool to choose from than your clinic, you may also find yourself vying for the same donor eggs as several other families. Additionally, there may be additional fees involved in going through an agency.
3. Using a frozen donor egg bank
There are also frozen donor egg banks available for hopeful parents looking to secure eggs from a larger pool of donors. These banks will have their own individual donor lists and requirements for hopeful parents looking to find a match, and you can expect to have access to details surrounding the donor’s health and physical characteristics.
If you’re considering a donor egg bank, you’ll just want to confirm that your clinic will allow you to make the transfer from an outside source.
4. Sourcing your own donor
There are two very different scenarios when it comes to finding your own egg donor:
- Using the eggs of someone you know: When you do this, it’s very important that you are both on the same page about what will take place and how you’ll handle everything, from medical payments to potential emotional conflicts down the road. You’ll also need a clear and concise legal contract drawn up by a lawyer spelling out the terms of your arrangement. Some clinics will even require both parties to undergo a psychological evaluation.
- Asking around: Intended parents might post on social media about what they’re looking for, or take out an ad in the paper.
There’s really no wrong way to find an egg donor, but some ways are certainly more complicated than others. For instance, when you’re sourcing your own donor you’ll likely need to take care of all of the legal, psychological, and medical screenings yourself. Additionally, you’ll need to help coordinate pieces of the retrieval process.
Considerations when trying to find an egg donor
It can be overwhelming when you sit down and start reviewing possible egg donor candidates, but some things should definitely be top priorities when it comes to selecting the best potential donor.
If you’re hoping to find an egg donor, first and foremost, you’ll want to make sure any candidates you look at are healthy and have no major medical problems. For the most part, most donor service centers or IVF clinics will have screened donors in advance, but you should still give any health records you receive a thorough review.
You’ll want to not only check for any obvious issues, but also be mindful of how your genetic makeup or that of the person whose sperm you’ll be using, could potentially cause problems. For example, make sure your egg donor does not carry the same recessive genetic disease as your partner or sperm donor.
You will also want to see if they have any family history of any major medical problems that might be genetic. If you have any questions, ask your doctor to review the donor’s history and ask questions!
If you’re working through an egg bank, clinic, or donation agency, ask if and how they verify health information. Is the information self-reported by donors?
While this can seem superficial, appearance can be important, especially if you’re hoping to use donor eggs from someone that is a close match to your own personal appearance. For example, if you’re petite, you may prefer to use eggs from a petite donor as well. Many egg banks and agencies will have photos of the donor, usually as a child but sometimes as an adult as well. This can give you an idea of the donor’s physical traits.
Similarly, if you enjoyed your time at college so much you went back for your Masters degree, you may want to find a donor that shares your passion for learning. It’s okay to want to have certain things in common with your donor. Ask the agency or egg bank if and how they verify education and employment. Do they just take the donor’s word for it? Or do they vet and verify the information given?
If you would prefer to use fresh donor eggs (as opposed to frozen), you’ll want to make sure your egg donor lives reasonably close to you. This is because you’ll need to immediately begin the fertilization and implantation process as soon as the eggs have been retrieved. That could be hard if your donor lives several states away from you. With frozen eggs, location is less important since it’s easy, safe, and relatively affordable to move eggs from one clinic to another.
Beginning your quest for the perfect egg donor can feel overwhelming, but it’s also the beginning of an exciting and hopeful time. Hopefully, you’ll be able to begin your IVF journey within a few months of selecting a donor (sometimes sooner if you’re going with eggs that have been previously retrieved and frozen).
Choosing a donor can be a special time in your life because it’s the beginning of a new part of your journey. One that we hope will end with you holding a beautiful baby.