Using Donor Eggs or Sperm

If you have had difficulty getting pregnant, egg or sperm donation and/or surrogacy can be a wonderful option to grow your family. Many people who have undergone fertility treatments without success choose to use donor eggs or sperm, or a gestational carrier/surrogate, and are extremely happy with their decision.

Why Egg Donation

There are several reasons a woman turns to egg donation. They include:

  • Diminished ovarian reserve
  • Premature menopause
  • Genetic diseases you want to avoid passing onto your child
  • Multiple failed In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) cycles, particularly with poor embryo quality

Why Sperm Donation

There are a variety of reasons that recipient parents may need donor sperm. Many men can face a number of challenges with sperm quality, including issues with:

  • Sperm concentration
  • Semen volume
  • Sperm morphology
  • Sperm motility

How It Works

Donated sperm may be used with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) or In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Donated eggs are used only with IVF. After the first part of the IVF process—known as egg retrieval—the donor’s eggs are fertilized with the partner’s sperm or donor sperm. When the embryos are ready, they are transferred to your uterus. Your doctor will have given you medication to time your cycle so that your uterus will be in the right stage to receive the embryos.

Egg and sperm donors are usually between the ages of 21 and 34 and you may choose them from an anonymous database, or you can choose someone you know. All donors undergo extensive medical and psychological screening.

Success Rates are Quite High

The odds of a woman getting pregnant using fresh embryos created from donor eggs are more than 50%. If male factor infertility was the main cause of the couple’s inability to get pregnant, the use of donor sperm also boosts success significantly.

Choosing a Donor

Finding out that donor eggs or sperm is the best option for you can come as a surprise. Many people desire a biological connection to their child, and it can be hard to let that go. We have resources in place to guide you through the experience and to help you feel empowered as you decide how best to move forward.

For many parents who have used donor eggs or sperm, the experience of pregnancy can create such a strong sense of connection to the baby that they can not imagine feeling any closer even if there were more of a genetic link. And, as with any pregnancy, you will have the privilege of knowing your baby’s every movement before the baby is born, being the first to hold him or her and then spending a lifetime with a child that you created and brought into the world.

Using a Surrogate or Gestational Carrier

Sometimes the challenge in getting pregnant lies not with the egg or sperm but with the uterus. If you have been unable to carry a healthy pregnancy to term—or you are in a gay male partnership—you may want to consider using a gestational carrier, or surrogate.

You may already have a surrogate or gestational carrier in mind, or you can choose one with the help of a surrogacy agency.

There are two types of surrogacy:

  • Traditional surrogacy: This is where the woman becomes pregnant with her own egg, which is fertilized by the intended father’s sperm or donor sperm. The surrogate is therefore genetically related to the child.
  • Gestational carrier: This much more common route is where the egg from the intended mother or an egg donor is fertilized by sperm from the intended father or donor sperm through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). The resulting embryo is then transferred to the carrier, who will not be genetically related to the baby.

Whichever arrangement you choose, it is typically 14 to 18 months from when you start the process to when you hold your new baby in your arms. Before you move forward, it is important to learn all you can about the process. Your doctor will discuss at length what you can expect when working with a surrogate or gestational carrier.

When Surrogacy Wasn’t Your Plan

Finding out that using a surrogate or gestational carrier is your best option for having a child may be difficult to come to terms with when you were planning on becoming pregnant yourself. It is one of the reasons we offer emotional, psychological and financial counseling at our practice. We will provide you thoughtful guidance and compassionate support throughout your journey to becoming a parent.

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Brooke Landau’s Journey To Motherhood Via Surrogacy at RPSD