Embryo donation

Method of assisted reproduction in which donated frozen embryos are selected and transferred to a recipient woman in an attempt to achieve pregnancy.

CoupleWhat does embryo donation involve?

Embryo donation is a method of assisted reproduction in which donated frozen embryos are selected and transferred to a recipient woman in an attempt to achieve pregnancy. The embryos used come from other people's In Vitro Fertilisation treatment (IVF). They will have been frozen and subsequently donated for this purpose.

What are the conditions for becoming an embryo donor?

Embryo donors are women or couples who have had their own assisted reproduction treatment (IVF, egg donation) and, in most cases, have succeeded in having children. Once their fertility treatment is completed, they decide not to use the frozen embryos and, since the law allows for this, they donate them for reproductive purposes.

All embryo donors, women or couples who have had fertility treatment will have been fully screened as required by law.

Is using donated embryos suitable for me?

Using donated embryos is indicated when both partners have fertility problems. The most common indications are:

  • Primary ovarian failure, whether spontaneous or caused by surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy
  • Serious genetic diseases, with a high risk of transmission and that cannot be diagnosed at an early stage
  • Previous failure of assisted reproduction techniques
  • Repeated failure of embryo implantation

What does the process involve?

Once the decision is made, the medical team selects donors with the best possible phenotype and immunological match with the recipient woman or couple.

From this point onwards, the process is the same as for frozen embryo transfer.

What treatment does the patient require before and during the process?

The recipient woman receives hormone treatment. The transfer is the last step in the assisted reproduction process and it is therefore very important to follow medical advice regarding medication and physical activity.

Can the couple choose to create their own embryos?

By "own embryos", we tend to mean embryos belonging to that couple. These embryos may have originated from the gametes (eggs and sperm) of the parent couple or may come from donor gametes.

Because embryo donation is indicated when both partners have fertility problems, the option of generating their own embryos would involve carrying out a cycle with donor eggs and fertilising them with the sperm of a donor.

What is the main difference?

The main difference between being the recipient of donor eggs with donor sperm and donated embryos is the number of embryos available. In egg donation with donor sperm, all the embryos generated in that cycle belong to the recipient couple and, additionally, the transfer can be carried out with the embryos fresh. With donated embryos, the number of embryos available is lower, usually from 3 to 5, since they are surplus frozen embryos from another couple's fertility treatment.