Choosing an Egg Donor or a Sperm Donor

Tuesday, October 2, 2018 | 11:22 pm

What are the most important qualities to consider when choosing an egg donor or a sperm donor?

Selecting an egg donor or sperm donor can feel like online dating. You will be exploring profiles and trying to find the perfect match that will comprise half of the genetics of your unborn child. Not only are you looking for specific physical, ethnic, and intelligence traits but you may also
want to feel chemistry with your donor.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all checklist for recruiting a donor, but here are some common factors to consider and pitfalls to avoid if you are choosing a donor from an agency or sperm bank.

Why do you need a donor?

Your selection specifications will differ depending on why you need a donor. A heterosexual couple needing an egg donor or sperm donor because one of the parents cannot contribute their own gametes may have a different outlook and criteria than same sex couples who know from the start of their journey they will need third party gametes.

Have realistic expectations

We advise all would-be parents via donation to be hopeful, yet realistic about their expectations regarding the contributions of a donor. Genetics is a fascinating process, and the coming together of egg and sperm can yield a myriad of variations. In other words, there is no guarantee that the donor with an Ivy League degree will help you create a child that Harvard College will accept 18 years from now. Some traits are multi-factorial, such as height, meaning several genes will determine a particular characteristic.

Also remember you can provide your children with the resources that will help them achieve their highest potential, including from the start of your pregnancy.

Prioritize what is important

We advise you to prioritize the qualities most important to you including these:

• Health and family medical history: All parents have this in common; they want healthy children. Modern medicine can help the process with genetic testing, which may include blood screening for hundreds of medical conditions as well as more advanced analysis that combines DNA information from two prospective gene pools to identify a child’s future risk for inheriting serious genetic diseases. Donors also provide a family medical history and undergo standard donor medical testing.

• Race, ethnicity, and religion: Many intended parents consider finding a donor of the same racial group to be an essential, non-negotiable characteristic. Many Jewish parents, especially those who are orthodox, might want a Jewish egg donor because they believe religious lineage can only be confirmed with a female Jewish donor. People of other religions or ethnic groups may have the same concerns and request egg or sperm donors meeting these criteria.

• Physical appearance: Physical appearance is highly subjective. A couple may look for a donor that has a similar physical appearance as the parent who is unable to provide the genetic material. Some agencies are developing facial recognition algorithms to match donors and soon-to-be parents.

• Intelligence: Intended parents rely on indicators like educational level, standardized test scores, and the caliber of college the donor attended to determine how ‘smart’ donors are. Some may pay premium fees to recruit donors who attended Ivy League colleges with proven high-caliber academic records.

• Personality and special skills: Do you want to find a donor who is an artist, a doctor or a teacher? The donor’s profession or major will give you information and clues to the professional achievements they have attained. Other parents seek athletic prowess, musical talent or another type of ability.

• Open or closed donation: Are you looking for an open arrangement with the egg donor so you can contact him or her about medical issues or to be available for your children as they grow up?

A wonderful donor versus a perfect donor

Once you have decided on the qualities most important to you and your partner, you can narrow your choices.

Prospective parents can be reassured that the nurturing and resources they provide will also play a significant role in the type of person their child will become. Genetics can be a roulette game whether you use a donor or your partner’s biological material. Selecting a donor is equal parts science and personal chemistry. Some parents will pour over profiles and create spreadsheets while others will rely on their gut feelings. Though there may not be a perfect donor who meets every quality you want, there will be many wonderful donors who will make a great match for your future family.


HRC Fertility, 333 S. Arroyo Pkwy. Fl 3, Pasadena, (626) 440-9161, or visit




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