The need to consider an egg or sperm donor is not uncommon during the trying to conceive journey. There is lots out there about sperm donation; indeed it’s something that you were likely to have heard of before even considering fertility treatments. However, there’s less online about egg donation and how to choose your egg donor – even though it’s just as important! Whether you’re looking for an egg donor in the UK or elsewhere, we at Fertility Help Hub got in touch with Hilary (the UK representative for Extraordinary Conceptions), to give you some advice about how to choose.
Over to Hilary at Extraordinary Conceptions…
You Need an Egg Donor, So What’s Next?
Whether you have always known you require an egg donor to create your family, or you’ve just been told by your fertility specialist that egg donation is your best route to having a child, choosing an egg donor will be one of the most important decisions you will make in your journey to parenthood. Deciding on an egg donor can be an exciting process but can also be overwhelming and stressful –after all, your donor will make up 50% of your child’s genetics. Thankfully, Extraordinary Conceptions is here to help you! As the largest and most experienced international egg donor agency, we have come up with some important tips and points to consider to assist you in this very personal decision, so that you can go into your fertility journey prepared. These tips will help you feel equally excited about the prospect of having your future child through egg donation.
Known or Anonymous Egg Donor?
This question is really important and does require a great deal of thought in order to make an informed decision. When an anonymous egg donation agreement has been put in place it means that the identity of your egg donor will never be disclosed to you. In an anonymous egg donation agreement, the selection of your donor will be based on what has been disclosed in her profile, which may include – but not be limited to – a selection of past and present photos of your donor and her family, education information, traits and characteristics (as described by the donor), medical information for both donor and her immediate family members, pregnancy information (if applicable) and donation history (if applicable). Non-identifying videos or additional information can also be requested to aid you in your decision on which anonymous egg donor to move forward with.
Your other choice is to work with a “known” or “open” egg donor. With the assistance of your agency and your attorneys, a joint decision between you and your donor will be made on how involved your donor will be in your life, including the expectations of the donor’s future relationship with your child. In a “known or open” donor agreement, identifying information can be shared with one another and your legal contracts will reflect the detailed discussions that have taken place prior to your egg donor starting fertility treatment. These contracts are put into place to protect all parties involved and, in both the USA and Canada, are legally binding. In a known or open donation, it is also very much recommended that all parties meet with an experienced counselor to discuss and raise issues and questions about both the short-and long-term implications of a known donor agreement. This is important to complete early on in the process, to prevent any issues from arising farther down the road.
Take our quiz about the misconceptions and myths surrounding egg donation and surrogacy in the USA
The physical characteristics of your egg donor may or may not be important on your list of requirements, but often intended parents are searching for an egg donor who resembles themselves or a family member, in the hope that a child resulting from the donation may share some similarities to themselves. The search for an egg donor that meets your specific criteria can be difficult and, with thousands of egg donors to choose from, we would recommend that you and your partner (if applicable) sit down and come up with a list of the physical characteristics that are most important to you in an egg donor. Some characteristics you may want to consider could be:
Compiling a list of physical characteristics that are important to you will help you to narrow down your search and help you to decide what traits you are hoping might be passed down to your future child. If you are working with an egg donor agency such as Extraordinary Conceptions, you can also search your specific physical traits using our descriptive filters on our database of over 3,500 egg donors. Your coordinator can also assist you in your search by sending you egg donor profiles that meet the specific criteria you’re looking for.
Egg donors are required to provide your agency with a detailed medical history for both themselves and their immediate family members. You will be able to review and evaluate the details of each donor’s medical history on their profiles, either through your agency’s egg donor database or directly through your agency coordinator. Things you may want to consider could be whether the donor carries any specific genetic traits that you do not want passed down to a future child. This is especially important if you are aware of the sperm provider being a carrier of a specific genetic abnormality or disorder. You may also want to see whether the donor has had her own children and, if so, whether her children were born healthy and/or if she had any troubles conceiving? If the donor’s profile mentions any fertility issues, then it might be worth requesting additional information from your agency to determine if the problems would affect an egg donation cycle. Another thing to consider when looking at a donor’s medical history is if there is a family history of illness and disease. Are there any genetic diseases/disorders that family members have or have had that could potentially be passed down through the genes to your child – for example, autoimmune disorders, chromosomal conditions, history of mental illness – just to name a few. Have a look to see if the donor smokes, is she healthy, is she active? These are also things you may want to consider when reviewing the medical history of the egg donors. Your fertility clinic will also review your donor’s medical records and carry out specific and required screening tests on every donor. Although your clinic will let you know if there are any significant concerns, by going through her medical history yourself prior to the file reaching your fertility clinic, you can determine what information may be a deal-breaker for you before you reach the point of medical screening.
Related Article on the Sperm side – How do Sperm Banks select Sperm Donors?
Personality Traits and Education
An egg donors personality and education will forever be an ongoing debate of nurture vs nature when it comes to selection criteria but for some intended parents, a donor’s personality and educational background are high on the list of things to consider. Each egg donor profile will give you a comprehensive overview of the donors hobbies, interests and education to review and evaluate. Typically, donors are very open and detailed when providing information on themselves, however intended parents can also request further details from their agency in order to make a more informed decision and before confirming their donor selection. Some additional information that can be requested could be: non-identifying videos of the donor – in order to visualize the donor’s personality more clearly, school grades and SAT scores, additional photos, certificates or awards etc. The requests are endless – talk to your agency coordinator who is there to assist you through the donor selection process.
Egg Donor History
Many women who donate their eggs decide to go through the process more than once. These egg donors would be considered “repeat donors”, and choosing an egg donor who has a history of previous donations can be reassuring to many intended parents. While past cycle successes will not always guarantee you positive results for future cycles, working with an experienced donor does come with its benefits. With a “repeat donor”, information on the outcomes of her past egg donations can be made available to you, including whether they had resulted in a pregnancy. You can also find out how may eggs were retrieved and how many embryos were created as a result of past donations. These are just some of the details you can request from your agency. Another benefit of working with a “repeat egg donor” is that some or all of her medical screening may have already been completed, which could save you some time and money once matched. An example of some tests that a “repeat donor” may not need to complete again could be: psychological evaluations, genetic testing, fertility checks (including AMH) and more! Both your fertility clinic and your agency can let you know what testing your donor may require and whether there are some tests she has already undergone.
Podcast: – Find out more about what it’s like having a baby through egg donation with Two Dads UK
You Can Do This!
As you can see, there are many things you may want to consider when going through the process of selecting your egg donor. Choosing your egg donor is a big decision and can be a stressful process, but working with an experienced egg donation agency can help you move forward with confidence and reassurance that you will find the perfect donor match for you! If you’re ready to build your family through egg donation, don’t hesitate to contact Extraordinary Conceptions. We will take the stress away from you so that you can focus on the most important part – having a baby!
A little bit more about Hilary
Hilary is the UK based, International Client Relations Consultant for Extraordinary Conceptions Agency. Part of Hilary’s role is to support, educate and guide intended parents through the process of surrogacy and egg donation in North America, as well as to develop and grow more accessible options internationally. Hilary has over 15 years of nursing experience with almost a decade in reproductive health and infertility. Her passion for this wonderfully niche area of fertility began almost a decade ago when she worked as a Surrogacy and Donor Nurse Coordinator at an IVF clinic in Canada. Hilary’s passion to assist more intended parents globally inspired her to relocate to the UK. There she has been able to pursue her desire to provide more accessible options for intended parents who require a surrogate and/or donor to build their family.
Hilary is always available for any questions, so please don’t hesitate to contact her for more info.