Considering Donor Eggs and Embryos

Finding an Egg or Embryo Donor

In 1984, the first egg-donor pregnancy was achieved. Since then, there has been an increased use of egg donation to help women and couples who are infertile to be able to carry a child. If you are considering using an egg or embryo donor, you'll first have to decide whether to use a friend or family member's eggs or an anonymous donor's eggs. If your partner's sperm is not healthy (or if you don't have a male partner), you may need to consider using donor embryos, which are combined sperm and eggs of known or anonymous donors.
If you want to use an anonymous egg donor, your fertility clinic or an established egg donation program can help you with this. In many cases, you can choose based on physical characteristics, ethnic background, and educational background. Ask your clinic how they screen candidates.
If you decide to use donor embryos, you can pick unrelated egg and sperm donors or use a frozen embryo donated by a couple who had extras after undergoing IVF.
You can also use known or directed donors, where you know the woman who will be donating eggs. In general, known donors might include a close relative or friend.
In some cases, recipients may advertise for donors in the newspaper or on the Internet. However, caution should be taken if you choose this route, as donors will not be screened through an intermediary program or agency, and you may need to have legal counsel in place.
Give yourself plenty of time to find a donor. Although many women may be anxious to get the process going, try to spend time talking with your partner and your healthcare provider about the choice that's right for your situation. Regardless of the method you use to choose your donor, everyone involved will need to receive a thorough medical evaluation to eliminate potential risks or complications.
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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