There are several types of donations that can be available to patients looking to use Assisted Reproductive Technology in completing their family. Be sure to meet with your RE for recommendations for your individual needs.
There are several kinds of donation that may be used in assisted reproductive technologies.
Egg donation involves one woman (a donor) “donating” her eggs so that another woman (a recipient) might be able to conceive.
In egg donation, in-vitro fertilization (IVF) is performed in the usual manner, with the donor receiving fertility medications to stimulate the production of multiple eggs in her ovaries. At the same time, the recipient may also receive medications so that her cycle mirrors the cycle of the donor and her body is prepared to receive the embryo. The egg is then fertilized in a laboratory and the embryos are implanted in the recipient’s uterus.
Generally, egg donation may be an option for a woman if she:
is older and has not succeeded with other therapies
has reached menopause prematurely
may carry a genetic disorder that may have been determined through blood testing
has experienced unexplained and repeated miscarriages
has a sister or close friend who would be willing to act as an egg donor
The success rate for couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization (IVF) with egg donation – even when a woman is over age 40 – is approximately the same as the success rate of IVF in young women.
To learn more about egg donation, or to determine if you are an appropriate candidate, talk to your health care provider.
You and your partner may elect to use donated sperm if the male partner has no sperm or very poor quality sperm, if he has undergone previous radiation or chemotherapy treatment, or if he has a genetic disorder that might be inherited. Single women and same-sex couples who want a child will also use donor insemination. To learn more, talk with your doctor or reproductive endocrinologist (RE).
Embryo donation involves donor eggs that have been fertilized with sperm by the donor’s partner or with donor sperm. Some women or couples who undergo IVF may choose to donate the fertilized embryos not used in their cycle. If it is a couple, consent by both parties must be given. The donated embryos are then transferred to the recipient’s uterus.
Surrogacy involves one woman carrying a pregnancy for another woman. There are two types of surrogacy: gestational and traditional surrogacy.
Gestational surrogacy involves a woman carrying a pregnancy created by the egg and the sperm of two other people. For instance, in the case of a woman with functioning ovaries but with no (or a malformed) uterus, she and her partner may opt to use IVF, then have the resulting embryos transferred into a gestational surrogate.
In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate undergoes IVF with her own eggs, which have been inseminated with the sperm from the male partner of an infertile couple. The female partner or couple must legally adopt the child after birth.
Emotional aspects of donation or surrogacy
Undergoing fertility treatments may be an emotional, frustrating process. Deciding whether or not to use donation or surrogacy can add another emotional layer to your relationship. For this reason, you and your partner may want to seek legal and psychological counselling before undertaking this procedure. There are many resources and organizations available to help.
In addition to emotional and psychological issues, there are often complicated legal issues surrounding donation and surrogacy. It’s a good idea to consult an attorney knowledgeable in this area before proceeding with reproductive techniques involving a third party.
To determine if you are a candidate for donation or surrogacy, talk with your doctor.