Intended Parents

How Do I Safely Find a Sperm or Egg Donor?

For many LGBT, single or infertile parents, an egg or sperm donation may be necessary to complete their surrogacy process. Here’s how you can find the right donor.

Hopeful parents who choose surrogacy come from a variety of backgrounds and have a variety of needs. For many, this includes the need for an egg or sperm donor.

In this article, learn more about how egg and sperm donation works and discover tips for finding a sperm or egg donor to help you complete your family.

Who uses donor eggs or sperm?

Some intended parents are able to use their own eggs and sperm to create the embryos that will be transferred to their surrogate. However, there are many reasons why a family might need to include a sperm or egg donor in their surrogacy plan.

The following intended parents might consider using donor sperm:

  • Single women
  • Same-sex female couples
  • Heterosexual couples when the male partner does not have high quality sperm
  • Male intended parents who have a genetic problem that could be transmitted to their child

While these intended parents might consider using donor eggs:

  • Single men
  • Same-sex male couples
  • Heterosexual couples when the female partner does not have healthy eggs
  • Intended mothers who are carrying genetic conditions that could be inherited by the child

The choice to use a sperm or egg donor is a personal one and will depend on your individual circumstances. Your fertility specialist or surrogacy professional can help you identify your needs and your donor options.

How to Find an Egg Donor

Intended parents have many options when searching for an egg donor. Here, learn more about selecting an egg donor program, as well as the choices you have when selecting the egg donor that is right for your family.

Options for Finding an Egg Donor

The first step in finding an egg donor is deciding where to look. Here are some of your options when searching for donor eggs:

  • In-house egg donor programs: Some fertility clinics and surrogacy professionals provide their own egg donation services. As you research surrogacy professionals or clinics, check to see if any have in-house egg donor programs that might be right for you.
  • Fertility clinic recommendations: Even if your clinic or surrogacy agency does not have an in-house egg donation program, these professionals can help you explore your options for finding an egg donor. Many have partnered with reputable egg donation programs or agencies that they can recommend.
  • Identified egg donors: You can also spread the word to find your own egg donor. Many intended parents use a sister, cousin or close friend to donate eggs, and there are many benefits to working with an egg donor you personally know.
  • Online search: There are endless egg donation possibilities on the Internet, and intended parents can browse hundreds of online donor profiles. However, it is important to do careful research and only consider reputable donors who have been thoroughly screened.
  • Frozen egg donation: The newest option for intended parents is egg freezing. Frozen egg donation programs simplify the transfer process because the egg donor’s cycle does not need to be synced with the surrogate’s cycle. However, it takes many more frozen eggs to produce a healthy embryo. In addition, frozen egg donation programs are all anonymous, which can have serious implications for intended parents and their children.

As you search for the perfect egg donor, you can consider characteristics such as her height, weight, age, nationality, family health background, interests, openness/anonymity, and more.

One important factor to consider is the amount of openness your egg donor is willing to have. If you choose to work with an open-identified or known egg donor, you will be able to access her updated family health information, find answers to your child’s questions about his or her genetic relationships, and more. It is highly recommended that you consider using a known donor or registering with the Donor Sibling Registry to help preserve the identity of your donor-conceived child.

It is also recommended that you speak with your surrogacy specialist, reproductive endocrinologist or social worker throughout the process of finding an egg donor. There are many emotional and medical factors that might impact your decision, and it is important to fully understand your egg donation options.

Questions to Ask Egg Donor Agencies and Programs

There is a lot to think about when searching for an egg donor. As you consider various egg donor programs, you may want to ask them the following questions:

  • How do you recruit donors?
  • What are the minimum and maximum ages of your donors?
  • What other requirements do donors need to meet with your program?
  • What information do you collect from your egg donors? What information is available to me?
  • What information, if any, will the donor receive about me?
  • Do your anonymous donor profiles include information about the donor’s race, ethnicity, family history, educational background, career, physical traits, etc.?
  • Do you provide fresh or frozen egg donations?
  • Do you keep up-to-date medical history information for each of your donors? How long are medical records kept?
  • What medical conditions are donors tested for? If a prospective donor tests positive for any of those conditions, can she still donate?
  • Are donors screened for drug use?
  • Do you preform psychological screening on donors? What are the credentials of the person providing these services?
  • Do you track the number of pregnancies per donor? Do you keep donor sibling information on file?
  • How many eggs can I expect to receive from a donor?
  • Do you work with any open-identified donors? Will you provide identifying information about my child’s donor when he or she turns 18?
  • Do you have any references I can call?

There are many egg donation programs and agencies to choose from, each with their own services, strengths and weaknesses. It is important to carefully research many different programs to find the one that best meets your needs. Here are a few egg donation programs to help you start your search:

How to Find a Sperm Donor

The task of choosing a sperm donor may seem daunting, especially because there are so many factors to take into consideration as you make your decision. In this section, find the information you need to locate the right sperm donor for your family.

Options for Finding a Sperm Donor

While intended parents can choose from fresh or frozen egg donation programs, all sperm donations should be frozen to help ensure the safety and quality of the sperm. The freezing process allows the sperm to be tested on multiple occasions over an extended time period, which helps to ensure the donations is as contagion-free as possible before it is made available to intended parents.

Once a sperm sample has been deemed safe by the sperm bank, the intended parents can select and purchase the sample, and it will be shipped to their chosen fertility clinic’s office, where the IVF cycle will take place.

Most sperm banks offer detailed information on their websites, allowing intended parents to search for and select a sperm donor based on a variety of characteristics, including:

  • Height
  • Weight
  • Nationality
  • Shared hobbies
  • Professional and educational background
  • Sperm quality
  • Health history
  • Anonymity/Openness
  • And more

One of the most important factors to consider as you browse prospective sperm donors is his preference for anonymity. Using an anonymous donor can have a host of emotional and medical complications that you should take into account.

If you choose to work with an open-identified donor, you will have much more information about your child’s family health history, genetic relationships and more. It is highly recommended that you seriously consider using an identified donor or register with the Donor Sibling Registry to help preserve the identity of your donor-conceived child.

Questions to Ask Sperm Banks

Sperm banks should be self-regulated and follow all of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) recommendations to ensure the health and safety of donor-conceived children. As you consider the sperm banks you may want to work with, you can help ensure you will receive a quality sample by asking the following questions:

  • How do you recruit donors?
  • What information do you collect from your donors? What information is available to me?
  • Will the donor receive any information about me?
  • Do your anonymous donor profiles include information about the donor’s race, ethnicity, family history, educational background, career, physical traits, etc.?
  • Do you keep up-to-date medical history information for each of your donors? How long are medical records kept?
  • What are the requirements for men to donate to your bank?
  • What medical and genetic conditions are donors tested for? If a prospective donor tests positive for any of those conditions, can he still donate?
  • The ASRM recommends that sperm banks quarantine samples for six months and then re-test the donor for the HIV virus before making his sperm available to intended parents. Can you explain your HIV testing process?
  • Are donors screened for drug use?
  • Do you track the number of pregnancies per donor? Do you keep donor sibling information on file?
  • Do you work with known donors? Will you provide identifying information about my child’s donor when he or she turns 18?
  • Do you have any references I could call?

Currently, there are more than 130 sperm banks to choose from in the United States alone. Here are a few of them to help you begin your search:

Final Thoughts

Whether you are looking for a sperm or egg donor, the one you choose will make up half of your child’s genetic composition. It is important to thoroughly think through all of the possible outcomes and implications that your choice of donor could have for your future child.

If you are struggling with the donor selection process or if you need help evaluating your options, contact your surrogacy professional or infertility counselor for additional help. More information about egg donation, sperm donation, surrogacy, and other third party reproduction information is available through the ASRM and The National Infertility Association.

Are you interested in learning more about surrogacy or starting the process? Complete our form to request free surrogacy information now.