Exploring Third-Party Reproduction: Donor Eggs, Sperm, and Surrogacy
Posted on October 25th, 2023
Third-party reproduction is a form of fertility treatment using donated eggs or sperm, and/or surrogacy. This type of fertility care treatment is often used for people with certain types of infertility, LGBTQ+ family-building, and aspiring single parents, also known as intended parents. In this blog post, we’ll review the various types of third-party reproduction and how they work.
Egg donation is commonly recommended for patients whose ovaries do not produce healthy eggs or if there's a significant risk of transmitting genetic disorders. It’s also particularly useful in helping same-sex cis-male couples and single men achieve their goals of becoming fathers. With egg donation, young healthy women who are in their peak fertility years donate their eggs so that they can be fertilized with sperm from the intended father or a sperm donor. Using in vitro fertilization (IVF), an embryo is created and later transferred to the recipient’s uterus.
Fresh vs. Frozen Egg Donation
There are two types of egg donation – fresh and frozen. In a fresh egg donation cycle, the egg donor’s and recipient’s menstrual cycles are synchronized so that the donated egg can be immediately fertilized and transferred to the recipient’s uterus shortly after egg retrieval. In a frozen egg donation cycle, the donor’s eggs are frozen after being retrieved and cryopreserved in cold storage until the intended parent is ready to use them.
Similar to egg donation, sperm donation can be an effective treatment in many scenarios, including severe male infertility, single aspiring mothers, and same-sex cis-female couples.
Sperm donors deposit their semen samples into sterilized containers; the semen then undergoes a series of rigorous tests and screening procedures to ensure there are no infectious diseases and genetic disorders present. The semen is also treated through a process called sperm washing, which uses powerful centrifugal force to separate strong, healthy, motile sperm from the seminal fluid, resulting in a concentrated sample of healthy sperm. The samples are then frozen and cryopreserved until ready for use. Donor sperm can be used as part of an IVF cycle or an intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle, in which the semen sample is deposited into the intended mother’s uterus via a thin catheter inserted through the vagina.
Gestational surrogacy involves creating embryos by combining eggs and sperm from the intended parents or donors and then transferring the embryos into the uterus of a person known as a gestational surrogate or carrier. The surrogate has no genetic link to the baby, but instead carries the pregnancy and gives birth. There are several reasons gestational surrogacy may be recommended, including:
- Single male intended parents
- Same-sex male couples
- Female intended parents who have undergone a hysterectomy
- Those who are unable to carry a pregnancy to full-term
- Those with uterine abnormalities (e.g., septate uterus, uterine fibroids, or uterine scars)
Research Your Options
If you are considering third-party reproduction, it is important to thoroughly research your options. Consult with medical professionals and legal experts to ensure you completely understand the process, implications, and responsibilities. If you want to learn more about your specific third-party reproduction options, request a consultation with Aspire Houston Fertility Institute today.