A common question that women have about donating eggs involves how much the parents will know about them as an egg donor. This can be confusing because there are three different ways you can donate eggs: anonymously, openly, or semi-openly. 

Choosing the right method for you depends on your personal circumstances and preferences, but it’s important to consider all three options before making your final decision.

Let’s take a look at each option and how they differ.

What is egg donation?

At its simplest, egg donation is when a woman gives her eggs to another woman to create a pregnancy. The egg donor must first undergo a series of medical treatments and take hormone medications that prompt her body to produce a larger quantity of eggs that would normally develop in a single cycle. Creating more eggs helps to improve the chances of a successful transfer. 

When the donor’s eggs are mature, they are retrieved from her ovaries. This is done by a doctor using a needle attached to a catheter, which gently suctions the eggs from the ovaries. 

Once collected, the eggs undergo evaluation by an embryologist before in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sperm from either the Intended Father or a donor is injected into each egg to create an embryo. The embryo is then placed into the uterus of the Intended Mother or a surrogate. 

Types of egg donation

Some egg donors prefer to share their identity with the recipient parents, while others choose to remain anonymous. That’s why there are different types of egg donation arrangements — closed, open, and semi-open.

How does anonymous (closed) donation work?

If you wish to protect your identity as an egg donor, you may prefer to choose a closed donation.

An anonymous or closed donation is exactly that: anonymous. Your identity is hidden throughout the entire process, meaning your recipients have no identifying information about you. 

This works both ways: you don’t know anything about the Recipient Parents, either. Neither of you can obtain any details about one another or make any contact. 

The only information your RPs will have about you is what is shown on your egg donor profile. For obvious reasons, they need to know important details such as your medical history and genealogy. After all, your genes will be part of their future offspring! 

Recipient parents will also want to know what their child might look like, so they will be given a physical description of you. They will also see any photographs you choose to provide of yourself or any kids that you have. 

How does known (open) donation work?

A known or open donation is the opposite of a closed donation. 

As an open egg donor, you’ll be sharing your identity and your entire background with your recipients. This includes their full name, address, and life history (career, education, relationships, family, etc). The same information about the Recipient Parents is also shared. Everything is transparent. 

This also means that you’ll be in direct communication with your RPs before the egg donation process begins and possibly even afterward. They may keep in touch via email, phone, or messaging. Some RPs may even want to meet you in person before the egg retrieval. 

Of course, the amount of contact you wish to have with one another will be agreed upon by all parties before your donation cycle. Your FSC case manager will refer you to an attorney who will discuss this with you when your egg donor agreement is drafted.

Is there a middle ground?

If you’d like some sort of contact without sharing your full identity, a semi-open arrangement could be best. 

As a semi-open donor, you’ll still have some degree of privacy. Your RPs will receive only limited information about you, such as your first name and general location, but not your last name or address. You’ll also be kept up to date with the results of your egg retrieval and the outcome of the IVF transfer. 

The great thing about the semi-open arrangement is that you can communicate with your recipients and get to know one another on your terms. They can still contact you with any questions or concerns throughout the process and after the baby is born, but your personal details are kept private. There’s also no commitment to staying in touch after the birth. 

What are the benefits of each option?

Each type of egg donation arrangement varies quite significantly in terms of its benefits and what kind of relationship you’ll have with your recipients. 

  •  Closed donation: Complete protection of your identity and no communication with the recipients required. This can be ideal for someone who wants their egg donation experience to be more like a business transaction that doesn’t affect their daily life.  
  •  Open donation: A wonderful way to see the joy that comes from donating your eggs and learn about the process as it unfolds. You may even build a lasting relationship with the Recipient Parents.  
  •  Semi-open donation: Protection of your full identity while still maintaining contact with your RPs and some participation in the procedure. 

Final tips on deciding what kind of egg donor you want to be

Many egg donors choose to remain anonymous so that they don’t have any future contact with the child. Egg donors are often happy to help without knowing any details about the outcome of their donation. 

Other donors want to have the option of being contacted by the recipient parents in the future, making it easier to answer questions about the child’s genetic history.

The decision of whether to be an anonymous, semi-open or open egg donor is a personal one. Each option has pros and cons, so it’s important to weigh them before making a decision. 

Want to hear from people who have been there before? The FSC team is ready to help. Many of their staff have personal experience of egg donation or surrogacy, so they can answer every question!

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.