How to choose a sperm or an egg donor

At the recent Fertility Show Africa, Dr Mandy Rodriques, resident clinical psychologist at Medfem Fertility Clinic with 25 years of experience in field of infertility, provided helpful advice when looking for a donor in her talk entitled “Losing my DNA”.

In this article, we look at who egg and sperm donors are, and how to go about the process of selecting the right donor for your family.

Who are donors?

When you are considering donor conception, it can be very helpful to recognise the type of women and men who tend to be donors.

Medfem Fertility Clinic has worked with thousands of donors over the years and can confirm the findings of a large study by Associate Professor Donrich Thaldar in 2020 which found that the main reason why people donate is not for the money, but for altruistic reasons.

Egg donors and sperm donors are often also organ donors, as well as blood donors and platelet donors. Many of them know someone who has experienced infertility, which is why they donate. On average, a donor will donate 2.48 times, even though more donations are allowed.

Donors can be found through an egg donation agency or a donor sperm bank.

Egg donation

There are a number of egg donation agencies in South Africa. These agencies provide the opportunity for many couples, who would otherwise remain childless, to have children.

Egg donor agencies are subject to regulations, strict guidelines and specific protocol procedures as established by the Southern African Society of Reproductive Medicine and Gynecological Endoscopy Regulations (SASREG). Although there is good interaction between SASREG and donor agencies, the actions of donor agencies and any possible complaints related to their contracts with donors and recipients fall outside the responsibilities of SASREG. Any complaints about the actions of agencies should be reported to the Department of Health: For attention Mr Clayton. His Secretary Ms. Nastasya Parker’s email address is

Medfem Fertility Clinic is proud to offer couples egg donation fertility treatment. Our egg donation team of professionals strives to make the process confidential, safe and effective and our egg donation program is dedicated to the ultimate goal of a healthy child. We use a number of SASREG-accredited donor egg agencies to recruit donor eggs for our patients.

Once a donor is selected, we carefully screen the donor with a comprehensive health questionnaire, physical, psychological, genetic and ultrasound examinations. Each recipient’s health status is carefully evaluated to ensure a safe pregnancy.

Sperm donation

All donor sperm banks in South Africa should be registered at Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) and should have a practicing license. Sperm from unlicensed sperm banks is illegal.

Medfem Fertility Clinic founded its own sperm bank in 1990 to address the acute donor sperm shortage in South Africa. Our sperm donors are committed to help others conceive and thanks to their donations, many infertile couples, single women and LGBT couples have started and expanded their families.

We aim to provide an exclusive selection of anonymous donor sperm from a diverse range of origins. For this reason, our donors are recruited from a variety of cultures, religions and sections of the community.

All our donors are ordinary, physically healthy men whose ages range from 19-35 years and who have normal, fertile sperm parameters. All potential donors undergo rigorous assessment before being accepted. Once the participant has passed the initial screening process, he also sees the clinical psychologist for evaluation.

Medfem Fertility Clinic’s sperm bank provides sperm donor profiles that are completely anonymous in accordance with South African law, but allow you to view other information about the sperm donors, such as their age, ethnic background, qualifications, occupation, general health, physical characteristics, and their hobbies and interests. Donors can also be selected by education, religion, occupation or interests.

Our sperm bank also offers only donor sperm that has been screened to minimise the risks of diseases and has undergone a three month quarantine period. In addition, we can facilitate the importing of donor sperm from international donor sperm banks.

The process

Previously, a doctor used to be the major selector of donors, but today the patients – assisted by embryologists – choose a donor according to their preference.

It is not easy to sit down to begin looking for a suitable donor. Start by exposing yourself to donor egg agencies or donor sperm banks. They will guide you through every step of the process.
These agencies host a pool of egg donors, whose profiles can be viewed electronically, to help you select a donor that best suits your requirements.

Alternatively, you can ask the agencies to match you with a suitable donor. You can even provide them with your criteria and adult pictures of yourself (if you so choose) to allow them to suggest suitable and potential matches for you. Donors are usually selected to match the physical characteristics of the recipient, which includes skin colour, eye colour, hair colour, height, build. Other factors that play a role are interests, religion and social background.

The first time you sit down and open the profiles of actual potential donors is absolutely daunting. But, with each exposure, it does become a little bit easier.

In narrowing down your choices, a good place to start might be the physical attributes that are similar to yours, such as blood group where possible, skin colour or eye colour, shape, build or hair colour. Perhaps the donor has ears or eyes or a dimple that are similar to yours or your partner’s.

Then, looking at these physically similar profiles and reading more about each one in terms of other factors that play a role, such as interests, religion and social background, ask yourself: “Who do I like?”

We are all drawn to people who are similar in nature to us, for example, people who have the same likes and dislikes as we do, who share similar interests, take part in similar activities, and read similar books than we do. If you have five profiles to choose from, you will be drawn to the one about which you can say: ‘that’s just like me’.

This is quite important, because if the donor looks and sounds like someone you would like and who is quite similar to you, it will make the process easier and also facilitate your attachment to the child.

Whether you are still considering donor conception, or if you are ready to take the next step, we would like to invite you to meet our team of fertility specialists at Medfem Fertility Clinic.
We understand that egg donation is not a couple’s first choice for conception and recognise the emotional investment in the process. It is a difficult decision and one that you need to discuss at length. Besides having the support of your fertility specialist and nursing team at Medfem Fertility Clinic, our clinic psychologist will be able to help you and your partner and the potential donor to examine the issues surrounding this option.

At Medfem Fertility Clinic, we believe in making world-class fertility treatments available for everyone. It is our joy and commitment to give you a positive outcome to your fertility journey, so you will have a fond memory of feeling empathy, caring and being part of the Medfem Fertility Clinic family.

Simply click here to book an initial consultation or contact us telephonically on +27 (11) 463 2244.
We look forward to meeting you!


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