How to choose an egg donor: Beginner’s guide for intended parents

How to choose an egg donor: Beginner’s guide for intended parents
If you’re thinking about building your family through egg donation, here’s what you need to know about choosing an egg donor and what you should consider in your search criteria.
Written by Orchid Team 
Medically reviewed by‍ Cristina Vidal, RN
  • Cristina Vidal, RN, is the IVF-Donor-Surrogate nurse coordinator at Stanford Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility with over 20 years of experience in the fertility and reproductive clinic.

Where can you find egg donors?

When intended parents start learning how to find an egg donor, they will quickly learn that there are a few options to choose from. The most common ones are egg banks, egg donor agencies, IVF centers with donor pools, and directed donors.

Egg Banks

Egg banks are a great way to find eggs for IVF treatment. Egg banks screen all donors’ health history and they tend to cost less than other IVF ovum sources. All donated eggs are frozen and stored in their “bank.”

However, because of the nature of the egg bank donation system, if intended parents want several children who are full siblings to one another, it is unlikely that they will be able to find eggs from the same donor a few years down the road. This may limit the range of options for some families.


Egg donor agencies function by providing egg donors with compensation, and although this may mean that it is a more expensive option for intended parents, there are some benefits. For starters, agencies are usually able to provide a much larger range of donors. This expands the number of options available, ensuring that you have a better chance of finding the right donor for you. They are also sometimes able to provide fresh eggs for IVF, allowing for the potential of creating more sibling embryos.

However, some agencies don’t pre-screen donors’ health history, which means genetic screening information may not be available prior to selecting a donor. Research different agencies to compare their recruitment and screening practices.

IVF centers with donation pools

IVF clinics that run egg donation programs have the donors prescreened, but they have a smaller number of donors to work with than an egg bank. Egg donors are likely from the local community. This also means that a limited number of eggs in a donation pool can lead to fewer options, and in some instances, will also come with a waiting list.

Directed donors

Directed donors can be people who you know rather than people you find through a service. They could be friends or family members willing to donate their eggs to create a family, and if it’s a family member, that means an additional genetic link is maintained. This option is generally cheaper and you don’t have to worry about a finder’s fee, however it’s necessary to check if the potential donor has a good ovarian reserve and that everyone consents to the arrangement. Additional counseling and support may be necessary to represent everyone’s best interests and address any concerns.

Requirements of becoming an egg donor

Generally, donors need to be between the ages of 21 and 34 and if it is their first time donating, they will need to go through an ovarian reserve test called the Anti-Müllerian Hormone (AMH) test, as well as a vaginal ultrasound to check for the antral follicle count. Repeat donors will need to have their medical records reviewed before any further screening is ordered. Genetic screening and genetic risk assessment is part of the initial screening.

Donors are also required to undergo psychological testing by a trained mental health professional to ensure that the donor meets all of the ASMR guidelines. Donors can then schedule their in-person screening which involves additional physical examinations and ultrasounds, along with an infectious disease testing panel that covers HIV, hepatitis B, C, syphilis, chlamydia, and other communicable diseases along with a urine drug screen and other blood tests.

Factors intended parents may consider

Intended parents will often consider a donor’s health, such as their medical history and that they have no hereditary diseases. It is also common to consider their disposition, athleticism, physical characteristics like their height, body type, and ethnicity, and whether they have personal goals, drive, and a sense of self and happiness as well as their GPA and education. Intended parents often also look at photos of the donor at different ages to get a better sense of how their child may appear through life.

Lastly, it’s a good idea to consider whether the donor would be open to being contacted at a later date in case this aligns with your own goals and expectations.

If you are planning on starting or growing your family, check out our expert guides on all things genetics and fertility. Today, advanced genetic screening is now available to couples who want their child to have the best shot of a healthy life. Explore how Orchid helps you conceive with confidence.
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