Single men and women, same-sex couples, and infertile couples alike may find themselves contemplating the different forms of egg donation available in their quest to become parents and raise a family. Like most elements of fertility, egg donation is available in different forms with various benefits and drawbacks to consider. It’s an incredibly powerful, important, and often difficult decision, so before making a choice, all Intended Parents should understand the differences between known and anonymous egg donations.
The Basics of Egg Donation
Women around the country are generous enough to commit to a months long process to make their eggs available for use by couples and singles who want a baby but have no viable eggs themselves. In fact, hundreds of thousands of women apply to be donors every year out of the desire to participate in giving the miracle of life. Donors also receive compensation for successfully donating healthy, responsive eggs.
Women are born with about one to two million immature eggs, called follicles, in their ovaries; 400,000 of which still exist by the time puberty begins. Every month, those follicles are transformed into 10-20 eggs during menstruation. Most eggs are released or absorbed by the body, and one main egg is selected by the body to be used during ovulation. When a woman begins treatment to donate her eggs, she takes fertility drugs that help her body develop the eggs that would normally have been discarded during menstruation.
After a process of medical screening, legal contract writing, and compensation agreements, egg donors undergo the fertility drug treatment that leads to egg retrieval. At that point the eggs will either be given to a source the egg donor knows or does not know, referred to as known or anonymous donation.
The definition of a known donation can vary depending on the situation and the state. A known donation does not always equal contact between the egg donor and the intended parents. The way a cycle is “known” may vary. In some cases, it may be definsed as simply knowing the name of the egg donor or intended parents. The situation may be deemed as known if there is a meeting between the donor and the intended parents or by simply allowing the contract to be signed without an affidavit.
In some cases, FDA requirements may require a known donation but the locality of the clinic will dictate if that means names only, a meeting, or a contract. In other cases, the intended parents may request a donation be known because they want to have a meeting or video chat with the egg donor.
No matter what the case, the amount of information exchanged is often controlled by the egg donor and what she is comfortable with. She may agree to a meeting but may not want to exchange contact information; or she may be open to whatever the intended parents are asking. Each is a case-by-case decision.
Many families feel more comfortable with anonymous donation because it legally guarantees a safe separation. Since the egg donor and Intended Parents alike agree to this anonymity, all parties can proceed without unexpected complications. In this case, the donor’s identity always remains confidential, but Intended Parents will have access to all pertinent information including the donor’s age, ethnicity, medical history, family history, and even photographs.
For some people, an open donation makes the most sense based on their wishes, while for others an anonymous donation is most comfortable. It’s an intensely personal decision that needs to be made with the professional guidance of a credible and trusted agency.