October 27, 2022


October 27, 2022

Why is There a Lack of Diversity in Sperm and Egg Donors?

It is not unusual for intended parents of color to have difficulty finding a sperm or egg donor. Learn why and what you can do about it here.

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Often, people look for a sperm or egg donor (or both) to become pregnant and begin or expand their family. The reasons are multi-fold why a sperm or egg donor may be needed. Sometimes, a person may be trying to get pregnant without a partner, have a partner with the same sex organs, or have encountered infertility. Regardless of the reason, it can be daunting to utilize a potential donor, and this article explores why there is a need for more diversity among donors.

Numerous factors influence the reasons sperm and egg donors choose to donate. Caucasian donors are at the top of the list, possibly due to requests and demand as one factor. Those choosing donors can review the donor's physical characteristics, such as eye color, height, and weight. Other features like intelligence, talents, and other traits can be reviewed, too. However, with the need for more diversity in donors, finding donors meeting the requested characteristics can take time and effort.

What does the process look like? 

Some companies can assist with finding a sperm or egg donor or both if needed. Some individuals or couples may already be working with a fertility specialist. The medical professionals will have referrals, suggestions, and support in that case. In some cases, providers may be restricted to which company or provider to utilize for donations, so it can be essential to find a good fertility specialist, to begin with. Other resources include sperm banks, egg donor banks, or agencies that work in egg donation.

The process of utilizing a sperm or egg donor may involve making the decision between an open-identified or an anonymous donor. Most donors in the United States remain anonymous, which can cause concerns with children once they get older and have questions. Anonymous donation is prohibited in some countries, like the UK and Sweden. It is imperative to consider the availability of DNA tests and how children may have half-siblings or other relatives they may discover later in life. With open-identified donors, the donor is open which can assist with a medical history, family, and other questions the child may have as they grow. 

There is a Donor Sibling Registry where individuals can connect with other individuals. Unfortunately, the process gets more complicated when minorities are seeking donors. Not only do they have to contend with the regular decisions and work related to finding a donor, the effort to find a donor meeting their preferences can become harder. Certain areas of the country may lack diverse donors, with Black, Asian, Indian, and Jewish donors sometimes challenging to find. Sometimes cultural influences may impact donation or recruitment practices since more Caucasian utilizers of egg and sperm donors may make marketing and acceptance of Caucasian donors more common.

What are the possible reasons?

Possible reasons for the lack of minority egg and sperm donors include marketing/demand, religious or cultural issues, systemic issues, and more. Parents of children from donors may struggle with understanding a different culture or want their child to fit in culturally with their family and/or friends. The option to have children of the same culture and ethnicity is a key factor that should be available to those seeking a donation. Additionally, families using donor sperm or eggs may face other discrimination, such as LGBTQ+ families and same-sex couples.

Those willing to donate their eggs or sperm have to feel comfortable as there can be life-long follow-ups if a child is conceived. Even if the donation is made anonymously, DNA tests are now making it easier for genetic parents to be found. Many families and religions consider this practice taboo or against religious practices, leading to fewer donors in certain cultures or religions. Non-Caucasian individuals may even have negative views of the American healthcare system, making it harder for them to trust medical providers with donations that could lead to children and significant, impactful decisions. Hopefully, as education continues and the realization that egg and sperm donors positively impact society, the number of diverse donors will increase.

How to find a donor

Utilizing a sperm or egg donor can be expensive. It is essential to find a company you feel comfortable with and that you can trust your funds with. Due to more availability, a sperm donor is often less expensive than an egg donor. Insurance does not cover donations, but sometimes the IVF procedure can be covered. When seeking an egg donor, the eggs may be frozen, or fresh eggs can be harvested with the egg donor using treatments and hormones to release eggs, and those eggs are provided to you from that harvest. As indicated earlier, different fertility clinics, egg or sperm banks, or other resources are available to supply the egg or sperm. Regardless of the process utilized, parents need appropriate physical and mental support to work through the process of getting pregnant and answering essential questions as the child grows.

Start your pregnancy journey with Anja Health

Anja Health supports fertility, pregnancy, and family health for all. In addition to providing affordable, accessible cord blood banking for all families, regardless of race, socioeconomic class, or income, Anja Health also provides education and community for all things pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. Consider Anja Health your partner in a healthy, happy pregnancy and family.

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