By Rachel Campbell, Egg Donation Manager at Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation
Many people look to egg donation on the path to parenthood. Whether someone is looking to be a single-father-by-choice, part of a same-sex male couple, or a female that can’t use their own eggs for whatever reason, using donor eggs could be a great choice.
But egg donation isn’t as simple as picking a donor out of a catalogue and the process can be confusing. Here are some of the most common questions around the process that may help in one’s journey.
1. Who may use an egg donor and why?
There are several reasons why someone needs the assistance of an egg donor. From heterosexual intended parents, who have diagnosed infertility due to maternal factors (age, diminished ovarian reserve, poor quality eggs) or other medical needs such as being a cancer survivor to single men or same-sex male couples that need an egg donor in order to have a child who is genetically connected to them.
For females, using a donor addresses the issues a woman might have related to low ovarian reserve or poor-quality eggs by working with a young, healthy woman with good quality and quantity of eggs. For same-sex male couples or single-fathers-by-choice, using donor eggs combined with surrogacy is the only way to have genetically related children. Egg donation as a means of family building allows an intended parent to be part of the process from conception, which is not typically possible with adoption.
2. Why would someone want to donate their eggs?
Females may choose to donate their eggs for a variety of reasons. Some have witnessed someone close to them experience infertility, while others are already mothers, and want to give that same joy to those who need help creating a family. Others are looking for ways to make a difference in someone’s life. And while egg donors are compensated for their donations, money is not a sole motivator behind women choosing to donate their eggs.
According to The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), donors should be “of legal age in their state and preferably between the ages of 21 and 34” and be “healthy and give no history to suggest hereditary disease.” Before a donor can donate their eggs, they must go through extensive screening including infectious disease testing, medical and family history, and psychological testing.
3. What is the difference between known and anonymous egg donation and what is the right choice for me?
Known egg donation is when contact information between an egg donor and intended parents is shared. Parents and egg donors can then get to know each other and build a relationship. In comparison, an anonymous donation does not reveal any identifying information between intended parents and the donor, and therefore no relationship exists between them.
Known donation is mutually agreed upon by intended parents and donors during the match process. While legal contracts allow for the exchange of information between intended parents and egg donors, they will not specify level of contact or requirements for future contact between the parties.
For intended parents, known egg donation enables them to learn who their egg donor is as a person, and their motivations for donating their eggs. Known egg donation also provides an open door for future contact between donors and parents, as well as for the child to have the ability to learn where they came from to keep up with the donor’s family medical history. For egg donors, known egg donation allows them to hear the story of the intended parents firsthand, and to see who they will be helping. It also provides information such as how many children were conceived from their donation, and where they are being raised.
Intended parents should think about their egg donation journey not only in the present, but in the future as well. Will they want to have communication with their egg donor as their child grows to see if her family’s medical history has changed? Will their child begin asking questions about where they came from? And will the intended parents wish to have the opportunity to introduce their child to their egg donor? Known egg donation requires trust and openness.
If intend parents choose to purse anonymous egg donation, ASRM “strongly encourage[s]” letting donor-conceived children know, although ultimately the choice is up to the parents. Research on families who have disclosed indicates that disclosure does not appear to injure the child, and some research suggests a positive effect on parent-child relationships in disclosing families. Research also indicates that among parents who disclose, few express regret, most report positive feelings and report no negative effect on their relationship with their child.”
4. How common is known donation?
According to Circle Egg Donation, approximately 90% of their donation matches are known. And known donation is only becoming more common. Things like genetic testing and donor sibling registries have influenced the shift from anonymous to known matches. It is impossible to guarantee anonymity today because of the availability of technology and science to connect the dots of one’s origins. Additionally, as intended parents are counseled and advised during the process to consider the needs of a future child, more and more choose known donation for the child’s medical and emotional needs.
5. How are egg donors and intended parents matched?
Often intended parents search for an egg donor in a clinic’s egg donor database or through Circle Surrogacy’s egg donor database, which is filled with egg donors. Intended parents create a profile and search for donors based on characteristics such as hair color, education, location, etc. After reading comprehensive egg donor profiles, intended parents will let their agency know when they have found a donor with whom they wish to match. If both parties agree on the match, the matching process will commence. Intended parents review and choose an egg donor from the egg donor database, however the match must be mutual to proceed. So, while an egg donor will not choose who their intended parents are (and who receives their eggs), they have the choice whether or not to match with them.
Egg donation is a great option for many families. Before one moves ahead, it is important to consider what sort of relationship one would want with their donor and whether egg donation is the right option. And remember, donor eggs can only be used in conjunction with IVF. If someone is a Progyny member, one should check with their dedicated Patient Care Advocate (PCA) to better understand the coverage.
Progyny partners with Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation. Circle is a premier egg donor agency with the experience and passion to help you find a perfect match. They have over 25 years of experience and are partnered with outstanding IVF clinics and other field-leading institutions around the country.