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Is It Really Better to Choose an 'Experienced' Egg Donor?

Merle Siegel, RNC, BSN, Senior Case Manager, The Donor SOURCE, May 30, 2012

As couples begin the daunting search for their perfect egg donor, so many questions come to mind! What criteria are the most important to me? Do I want someone who physically resembles me or someone in my family? Does the donor have musical talents like I do or can she swing a tennis racquet the way my partner does? Did she achieve those SAT scores in high school that we are looking for and has she achieved good grades during her college years? Does she have a sense of humor and kind heart? Such a difficult and unique decision to be making. Only you and your partner can know what are the most important criteria for you.

A more objective aspect of choosing a donor that often comes into play during the donor selection process is whether to choose a young woman who has donated before. Many fertility doctors counsel their patients to choose an “experienced” egg donor, one who has donated previously, when doing their donor search. There are several reasons why this piece of advice makes sense. From a practical perspective, a young woman who has donated previously understands all that is involved in the egg donation process and has chosen to do it again. It would seem that someone who has gone through this process will be compliant with all of the requirements of participating as an egg donor and will smoothly navigate an egg donation cycle.

Physicians also often feel that they have more information by which to judge the suitability of a particular donor for your cycle if they have the information from a donor’s prior cycle to use during the evaluation process. They also feel that the information from a donor’s prior cycle assists them in determining the appropriate dosing of medication for the donor in their upcoming treatment.

What then, could be the downside of choosing a donor who has donated previously? My feeling is that by limiting your choice of donors to only experienced donors, you may be eliminating a large group of potentially wonderful and medically appropriate young women from which to make your selection, for the following reasons:

  • The level of enthusiasm and therefore, desire to “do the right thing” that we see with young women new to the donation process, typically cannot be matched by experienced donors. They often listen more closely to instructions and are less hesitant to ask questions or ask for help during the cycle.
  • All potential donors, whether they are experienced or not, should be carefully evaluated by the medical clinic to determine the level of their ovarian reserve prior to donating. The functioning of a woman’s reproductive system can change over time, so whether someone has donated successfully in the past should not be the only criteria used in the donor selection process.
  • A donor's performance in a given egg donation cycle is not 100 percent predictive of how she will perform in subsequent cycles.
  • Every donor, even the very best and successful experienced donors, had to have had a first time that they donated.

So, is it wise to limit your selection of an egg donor to only experienced candidates? I would suggest that couples not limit themselves to this pool and also consider the many wonderful, appropriate first-time candidates.

The best of luck to all of you as you begin this journey to having your families.

Merle Siegel, RNC, BSN, The Donor SOURCE's Senior Case Manager for the Southeast Region, has 20 years of experience working as a clinical fertility nurse in both academic and private fertility clinic settings. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from Boston University and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree from Rush University in Chicago. She holds special certification in the area of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility Nursing. Her experience in working exclusively within the realm of third party reproduction during the past 18 years of her clinical career has enabled her to develop a special appreciation and understanding of the support and resources needed by intended parents during their journey towards parenthood. Merle is thrilled to be a part of the team at The Donor SOURCE and helps donors and recipients with egg donation in: Florida, Georgia and the Southeast Region.


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