Egg and Sperm Donation in Assisted Reproduction

By (embryologist), (embryologist) and (babygest staff).
Last Update: 01/21/2020

Gamete (egg and sperm) donation is an altruistic and supportive act in which a young and healthy person decides to help others with infertility problems. Embryo donation is also possible, the main disadvantage of which is that the future child will have a genetic sibling that he or she will not know. Therefore, in one way or another, people with sterility problems are able to fulfil their dream of being a parent.

Assisted reproductive treatments (ART) with gamete donors is a complex process that requires consideration of social, ethical and legal issues. While in the U.S. there are both anonymous and public donation, in some countries, however, only anonymous donation is allowed.

What does gamete donation consist of?

A gamete donor for assisted reproduction is a person who decides to give his or her genetic material to another person so that he or she can fulfill his or her objective: to get pregnant. When we talk about gamete donation we mean egg and/or sperm donation.

In general, gamete donation is the solution that allows many people to achieve a gestation. This happens when the fertility problem appears due to poor quality of the own gametes or even their lack of it, as it happens in single women for example.

Resorting to gamete donation implies renouncing genetics; therefore, it is common to need psychological support during the whole process. The point is that future children will not share their genes with their parents, something that is difficult for some people to assume.

When do you need a donor?

There are various pathologies that have negative effects on people's fertility and, therefore, it is necessary to opt for gamete donation if you want to get pregnant.

Below, we are going to list some of the situations that cause infertility:

  • Advanced maternal age.
  • Genetic disorders.
  • Anomalies in the anatomy.
  • Pathologies of the reproductive system.
  • Low gametes quality.
  • Recurrent misscarriages.
  • Previous cycle failures with own gametes.

Another case that makes the use of gamete donation necessary is the absence of a male partner, regardless of whether there are fertility problems. This occurs in single women or couples of women who want to be mothers.

Types of donations

Depending on the cause of infertility, we will resort to one type of donation or another. Below, we detail each of the existing gamete donation models.

Egg Donation

When we talk about egg donation, we mean that we are using the eggs of a young and healthy woman. It should be noted that the quality of the oocytes decreases dramatically with age, so it is essential that the donor be under 35 years old.

For this reason, ART with egg donors have become the most demanded procedure during the last years, as more and more women delay motherhood. If donor eggs are used, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is necessary.

Some of the reasons why egg donation is used are the following:

  • Genetic disorders.
  • Early ovarian failure.
  • Loss of ovarian function.
  • Oncological treatment.

Pregnancy rates are higher when using donor eggs than using one’s own. Despite the high success rates of egg donation, it is true that it is still a technique that is difficult for patients to make the decision to have it done.

Sperm Donation

Sperm donation consists of using the sperm sample of a young, healthy boy. Through the use of donor sperm, the assisted reproduction techniques that can be performed are artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, either in form of classic IVF or ICSI.

In which cases is it necessary to resort to sperm donation?

  • In cases of single women.
  • In lesbian couples.
  • In cases of severe male infertility.
  • When there’s risk of transmitting any hereditary disease not detectable by Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).

Moreover, lifestyle and habits can lead to a decrease in sperm quality and make it necessary to use donor sperm.

Double donation

In some cases it is necessary to use eggs and sperm from a donor. Through this double donation, embryos are generated that will be transferred to a woman or a recipient couple.

This treatment is the one with the most psychological problems, since no member of the couple contributes their genetic material. Besides, this treatment is costly, but success rates are high and pregnancy can be achieved in most cases.

It should be noted that the success rates of double donation are similar to those of egg, since the egg quality is the main factor in determining the success of an IVF treatment.

Embryo Donation

In addition to gamete donation, there is also embryo donation. This involves the donation of leftover embryos from other couples who have undergone previous fertility treatment and whose embryos were cryopreserved at the time.

One of the main advantages of this type of donation is that it reduces the cancellation rate of the cycle. In addition, the cost of embryo adoption is lower than that of other assisted reproduction treatments.

Financial compensation

In some countries, gamete donation is a voluntary and altruistic act. However, most gamete donors in those countries receive financial compensation for the physical discomfort caused.

In the U.S. sperm donors usually receive from $30 to $130 per donation. As for egg donors, women who donate their eggs are compensated up to $14,000 depending on her qualifications and number of eggs produced.

On average, an egg donor earns approximately $8,000 for a completed egg donation cycle.

How are donors choosed in each country?

Each country considers donation in a different way. Therefore, if a gamete donor is to be used, the legislation on gamete donation in the country concerned should be consulted to find out how to proceed.

In some countries, such as Spain, the donation is completely anonymous. In these cases neither the donors know who uses their gametes, nor the patients know the donor, only the most relevant physical characteristics are given. The entire donation process is carried out through the assisted reproduction clinic and they are in charge of assigning the donors to the recipients.

In other countries, donors are not anonymous and the relationship depends on the future parents and the donor. There may be more direct contact between them, even getting to know each other personally, or simply knowing their identity and concerns. In countries like the U.S. it is also possible for familiy members or friends of the struggling couple to become gamete donors.

FAQs from users

How much do you get paid for donating your gametes?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez (embryologist).

The financial compensation for sperm donors is between $30 to $130, approximately; egg donors receive $8,000 on average for each egg donation cycle completed.

It should be noted that the compensation varies depending on the fertility clinic.

How much is an egg donation treatment?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez (embryologist).

Egg donation programms may cost up to $30,000. However, the exact costs vary depending on the fertiliy clinic and the services included.

Can a sperm donor get to know "his child"?

By Marta Barranquero Gómez (embryologist).

In some countries, sperm donation is anonymous and therefore, it is not possible for the sperm donor to get to know his sperm recipient. In those cases it is not even possible to get information beyond basic physical characteristic, such as hair color, height, etc.

However, there are countries in which sperm donation is not anonymous. In these cases, the link that is generated between the donor and the recipient is a question of them.

Suggested for you

If you are interested in egg donation programms, have a look at the following article: Egg Donation: Requirements, Tests and Process.

If you wish to know more details about the different assisted reproduction treatments, we recommend you visit the following link: Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART).

Our editors have made great efforts to create this content for you. By sharing this post, you are helping us to keep ourselves motivated to work even harder.

References

Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine; Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Interests, obligations, and rights in gamete and embryo donation: an Ethics Committee opinion. Fertil Steril. 2019 Apr;111(4):664-670. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2019.01.018. Epub 2019 Mar 11.

François L, Bouychou M. Gamete donation and parenthood. Soins Pediatr Pueric. 2019 Nov;40(311):30-34. doi: 10.1016/j.spp.2019.09.008.

Nouri-Genolhac N, Masle C. Anonymity in gametes donation: the elements of debate. Rev Prat. 2018 Apr;68(4):369-372.

O'Brien P, Vandekerckhove P. Intra-uterine versus cervical insemination of donor sperm for subfertility (Cochrane Review). In: The Cochrane Library, Issue 1, 2001. Oxford: Update Software.

Pennings G, Provoost V. The attitude of female students towards sperm donation by their partner. J Assist Reprod Genet. 2019 Jul;36(7):1431-1439. doi: 10.1007/s10815-019-01491-0. Epub 2019 May 30.

Serena C, Comito C, Simeone S, Capannini E, Tosi N, Ottanelli S, Rambaldi MP, Coccia ME, Mecacci F, Petraglia F. Postpartum hemorrhage: not only hypertensive disorders in oocyte donation pregnancie. Minerva Ginecol. 2019 Aug;71(4):281-287. doi: 10.23736/S0026-4784.19.04375-2.

Zegers-Hochschild F, Adamson GD, de Mouzon J, Ishihara O, Mansour R, Nygren K, Sullivan E, Vanderpoel S, for ICMART and WHO. Glosario de terminología en Técnicas de Reproducción Asistida (TRA). Versión revisada y preparada por el International Committee for Monitoring Assisted Reproductive Technology (ICMART) y la Organización Mundial de la Salud (OMS). Red Latinoamericana de Reproducción Asistida en 2010 Organización Mundial de la Salud 2010.

FAQs from users: 'How much do you get paid for donating your gametes?', 'How much is an egg donation treatment?' and 'Can a sperm donor get to know "his child"?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Cristina  Mestre
Cristina Mestre
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biological Sciences, Genetics & Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV). Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the UV and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Embryologist at IVI Barcelona. More information about Cristina Mestre
 Marta Barranquero Gómez
Marta Barranquero Gómez
Embryologist
Graduated in Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH) in collaboration with Ginefiv and in Clinical Genetics by the University of Alcalá de Henares (UAH). More information about Marta Barranquero Gómez
Adapted into english by:
 Romina Packan
Romina Packan
Babygest Staff
Editor and translator for the Babygest magazine in English and German. More information about Romina Packan

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