Understanding Sperm and Egg Donor Options
Understanding the difference between the various sperm and egg donor options that are available is important to know when you are deciding to create a family. You should consider the source of the donated sperm and/or eggs, ensuring, at a minimum, that it meets FDA guidelines. Carrier screening for genetic diseases may be performed on the donor to minimize the risk of genetic disease in offspring and to increase the likelihood of having a healthy baby. You should also understand the differences between the donor options. Ultimately, becoming informed will empower you to make the best choice for you and your future family.
Donor Sperm Options
There are many reasons you may decide using donor sperm is the best way to build your family. If you are unable to conceive due to azoospermia (the absence of sperm), severe male-factor infertility, are a single woman, or a partner in a same sex-female couple or cis-gender/trans-couple trying to conceive, you may consider using donor sperm from a licensed sperm bank or a known donor.
- Sperm Banks
Certified sperm banks must meet specific requirements for donor screening. Licensed sperm banks require their candidates to be screened for genetic conditions, infectious diseases, and sexually transmitted diseases. Medical history is also verified. Sperm banks vary in how much personal detail about the donor is revealed. Some sperm banks offer both current and baby photos, while others keep the donors’ identities completely anonymous.
- Known Sperm Donors
A personal acquaintance such as a friend or family member can also serve as a sperm donor. You should be aware, however, of your known donor’s medical history, and confirm that they have undergone the necessary testing, including infectious disease testing.
Donor Egg Options
If you are unable to achieve pregnancy using your own eggs due to egg quality, genetic abnormalities, previous surgeries, or are a partner in a same sex-male couple, or cis-gender/trans-couple trying to conceive, you may want to consider using a donor egg to build your family.
You can choose a donor egg from a variety of resources:
- Anonymous Egg Donors
The Egg Donation Program at RMA of New York recruits healthy women between the ages of 21 and 32 with no known genetic or sexually transmitted diseases from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Coordinators work with you to determine a suitable donor and obtain fresh eggs.
- Agency Egg Donors
New York State licensed egg donor agencies are another source of fresh donor eggs. These agencies provide varying information about their donor, but at a minimum, should include information about the donor’s family medical history.
- Donor Egg Banks
Using frozen eggs from pre-screened donors provides immediate access to egg donors and eliminates the need for a lengthy matching process or for synchronization of the donors’ and recipient’s menstrual cycles.
- Known Egg Donors
A known donor can be a relative or friend. The known donor will need to be screened according to approved guidelines. It is recommended that counsel be involved to establish proper legal documents to ensure a successful relationship between you and a known egg donor.
Surrogacy or Gestational Carrier Options
If you are considering using a donor, you may also be interested in having another individual carry the pregnancy as well. A common question that comes up is the difference between a gestational carrier and a surrogate. A gestational carrier agrees to have a couple’s fertilized egg implanted into her uterus. A gestational carrier does not provide an egg and is, therefore, not genetically related to the child to be born. A traditional “surrogate,” however, donates their own egg to a couple. This egg is fertilized and then implanted back into the surrogate who carries the pregnancy to term. Often these terms are used interchangeably.
At RMA of New York, your physician together with our third party team will work with you to identify the donor that is most compatible and best fits your family building goals.