Scientific advances in assisted human reproduction treatments mean addressing infertility – no matter how severe – can be a procedure tailored to individual needs and cases. In vitro fertilisation using donor eggs and sperm has a very high success rate and is a popular choice among couples who have previously been unable to conceive via alternative and natural approaches.
In vitro fertilisation using donor eggs and sperm has the highest rate of pregnancies reaching full term and boast a success rate close to 60%! It is important for couples to be aware of donor eggs and sperm as an option for treating infertility due to functionality, practicality and favourable result output.
What is in vitro fertilisation (IVF) using donor eggs and sperm?
Conventional IVF treatment is carried out in a laboratory using the eggs and the sperm of the expecting couple, while in the case of IVF using donor eggs and sperm, the same process is replicated using anonymously contributed eggs and sperm, as stipulated in the Assisted Reproduction Act of 2006.
While the requisite of synchronising the recipient mother and donor’s menstrual cycles makes this a slightly more complex procedure in comparison to conventional IVF, previous studies also need to be administered beforehand in order to identify donors which are both compatible and viable.
Who is in vitro fertilisation (IVF) using donor eggs and sperm best for?
The levels of effectiveness assisted human reproduction treatments have reached in recent years cannot be overemphasised. Couples who have previously been unable to conceive can today realise parenthood opting for IVF treatment with donor eggs and sperm. However, such approach is not limited to just couples and has helped:
- Single women who have been diagnosed with abnormal quality and quantity of egg production and are therefore infertile.
- Homosexual women who are unable to provide the required quality or quantity of eggs required to fall pregnant.
- Heterosexual couples where both partners have diagnosed infertility conditions, examples being azoospermia or ovarian failure.
- Heterosexual couples where both partners are diagnosed as carriers or transmitters of genetic diseases.
- Couples who are past the age of fertility and are unable to obtain sperm and eggs with the capability to conceive.
- Couples who have undergone failed IVF processes with their own gametes.
Phases of in vitro fertilisation using donor eggs and sperm
IVF using donor eggs and donor sperm is, as previously outlined, a somewhat more complex procedure when compared to conventional treatment. This will become apparent in the below step-by-step guide:
1. Donor selection
The law is strict regarding the requirements which need to be met by both male and female donors, while those contributing also do so anonymously and altruistically having previously undergone rigorous medical tests and analysis.
Both donors must be subjected to a complete physical examination, blood test, karyotype study and an inspection of microbiological culture. They are also required to partake in an interview with a psychologist. In addition to aforementioned tests, female donors also have to undergo an ultrasound scan.
Genetic compatibility tests are also administered to determine healthy donors, but also ensure genetic mutations will not be transmitted to any future children. Further analysis is also done to ensure certain donors are of the best phenotypical match to both partners (physical characteristics).
2. Preparation of donors
In regards to the male donor, sperm is acquired from a sperm bank where rigorous analysis has been previously administered to ensure the highest of quality.
The egg donor must first undergo ovarian stimulation treatment and then synchronise menstrual cycles with the recipient using a course of gonadotropins to ensure the production of additional eggs. The development of menstrual cycles is carefully monitored before a follicular puncture is actuated within 36 hours of ovulation.
3. Embryo cultures and in vitro fertilisation
On the same day eggs are collected, they are fertilised with donor sperm in a laboratory via conventional IVF treatment or the ICSI system. After a few days developing in culture, embryos between three to five days of good quality are sought for.
Depending on the number of oocytes obtained and the willingness of the donor, some can be frozen for use in subsequent IVF attempts should they be necessary.
4. Recipient preparation
The recipient’s endometrium should be in optimum condition prior to embryo transfer having previously undergone stimulation treatment, while an ultrasound scan is further used in order to determine its thickness.
5. Embryo Transfer
The actual embryo transfer itself is both a quick and painless procedure, often described as a similar sensation to a pap smear. The method itself involves the insertion of a very fine cannula to deposit embryos in the uterus.
Embryo transfer can be administered anywhere between two or five days after fertilisation, depending on the particular conditions of each case.
6. Post Embryo Transfer
Once prior phases have been completed, a pregnancy test can be done at home 15-16 days after the initial follicular puncture. From here, one of the following two outcomes will be realised:
OPTION 1. You’re pregnant: congratulations! An ultrasound scan three weeks from this juncture in pregnancy means future parents can see and hear their child for the first time.
OPTION 2. Pregnancy on this occasion has not been achieved, but all is not lost. The following treatments can be pursued.
- Should you have frozen embryos, follow-up treatments are simplified as donors do not need to undergo stimulation or follicular puncturing again.
- Should no further frozen embryos be available, the IVF process will need to be restarted from its inception. However, it is worth bearing in mind that studies have shown an accumulated gestion rate is higher as consecutive cycles increase.
How many cycles with donor eggs and sperm can you undergo?
According to statistics, the success rate of IVF treatments using donor eggs and sperm are close to 90% in women during their first three cycles. The is the normal and recommended number of attempts, but individual characteristics and conditions should always be considered prior to make a decision.
Sacrificing passing on genetic loads is without doubt a minuet gesture in comparison to the success rate of IVF using donor eggs and sperm, enjoying a happy pregnancy and realising parenthood.