Egg and Sperm Donation in Assisted Reproduction

By (embryologist) and (babygest staff).
Last Update: 06/18/2015

In a surrogacy process, it is necessary for a healthy woman to participate, who will be in charge of the gestation of the baby.

However, in addition to the intervention of the pregnant woman, it may also be necessary to resort to the donation of gametes, i.e. egg donation, sperm donation or embryo donation.

The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.

When a donor is needed

In surrogacy, there are several cases in which donation should be used, depending on the needs of each of the future parents.

Semen Donation

It consists of using the semen sample of a young and healthy donor. In this case, the assisted reproduction techniques that can be performed are artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization, either conventional IVF or ICSI.

Although it is less and less frequent, in this case the traditional or incomplete surrogacy could be used, in which an artificial insemination is carried out on the surrogate, so that she is also the one who provides the genetic material, existing a greater bond with the baby.

A sperm donor will be needed in the following cases:

  • Single woman.
  • Lesbian couple.
  • Problems in using the semen of the future father, either due to the absence of sperm or the risk of transmitting some hereditary disease not detectable by means of Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD).

Egg Donation

The eggs of a healthy young woman are used. The quality of the oocytes decreases drastically with age, so it is essential that the donor is a young woman, if possible with a maximum of 30 years of age.

If an egg donor is used, it is necessary to use in vitro fertilization, so it would be a case of complete surrogacy. The egg donor is a different woman from the surrogate, so there is no genetic relationship between the surrogate and the baby.

Oocyte donation is used in the following cases:

  • Single Man.
  • Gay couple.
  • Heterosexual couple with problems using the woman’s eggs, either due to age or risk of transmission of undetectable hereditary diseases with PGD.

Double donation

In some cases it is necessary to use eggs and donor sperm. Therefore, the donor gametes will be used in in vitro fertilization and the embryos produced will be transferred to the surrogate.

Embryos Donation

In some countries the donation of embryos is allowed, these are embryos donated by other couples who have undergone fertility treatment previously and were cryopreserved at the time.

These embryos can be devitrified and transferred to the surrogate.

Choice of donor in each country

Each country considers donation in a different way, so if you have to use a donor of gametes, you should consult the law regarding the donation of gametes to know how to proceed.

In some countries, such as Spain, the donation is completely anonymous, 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 fertility clinic.

In other places, the donors are not anonymous, it depends on the future parents and the donor the relationship they wish to have, they can have a more direct contact, even getting to know each other personally, or simply to know their identity and concerns. There are countries, such as the United States, where family members or friends are allowed to be gametes donors.

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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
Adapted into english by:
 Marie Tusseau
Marie Tusseau
Babygest Staff
Editorial Director of Babygest magazine in French and English. More information about Marie Tusseau

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