Infertility has a global prevalence of around 18%, meaning one in every six adults is affected. It’s more common in women than men and increases markedly with age. Modern medicine has provided several interventions to manage infertility, including donor eggs and sperm. This approach plays a crucial role in managing infertility among individuals or couples who are unable to conceive using their own gametes (eggs or sperm). Here’s an overview of how donor eggs and sperm treatments work:
Who Uses Donor Eggs?
Several women suffering from infertility can benefit from donor eggs. It all depends on the cause of infertility. Some of the situations where donor eggs are helpful include:
- Diminished ovarian reserve:
The quantity and quality of female eggs decrease with age, making it difficult to conceive. Donor eggs from young, healthy donors can offer a better chance of successful fertilisation and pregnancy.
- Genetic disorders:
Genetic disorders are responsible for most cases of primary infertility. Moreover, women with genetic mutations opt to forego conception to prevent passing diseases to their offspring. Donor eggs allow women to conceive and carry their pregnancy to term without passing on any genetic conditions.
- Women receiving cancer treatments:
Most cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation damage ovaries and affect egg production. Donor eggs provide an alternative for these women.
- Same-sex male couples:
In same-sex male couples, one partner’s sperm can be used to fertilise the donor eggs, allowing a biological connection to the child.
Donor Egg Selection:
Several considerations are made to ensure recipients get healthy eggs that meet quality specifications. Age and health status form the initial parameters for the screening process. A lot of medical and genetic tests are done before final selection. Furthermore, recipients have the opportunity to select a donor based on physical characteristics, background, and health history. Some fertility clinics also provide personal information, such as the donor’s hobbies and interests.
Fertilisation and Embryo Transfer:
Fertilisation with donor eggs is often done through In vitro fertilisation (IVF). This process involves fertilising the donor eggs in a lab with sperm from the recipient’s partner or a sperm donor before transfer to the recipient’s uterus. Certain criteria must be met before transfer to increase the probability of successful implantation. In some cases, the transfer is done to a surrogate mother if the recipient has anatomical or physiological issues that can impede implantation.
Pregnancy and Beyond:
After successful implantation, the recipient woman can become pregnant and carry the pregnancy to term.
Who Uses Donor Sperm?
Donor sperm is available to healthy women in situations that impede their desire to conceive. These include single women who want to have a child without a male partner, same-sex female couples looking to have a biological connection to the child, and heterosexual couples with male fertility issues.
Donor Sperm Selection:
A rigorous screening process involving medical and genetic testing forms the initial evaluation for donor sperm. Recipients can also choose a sperm donor based on their personal criteria.
Insemination or IVF:
Once sperm selection is complete, fertilisation can be achieved through two methods: Intrauterine insemination and IVF. The former is a procedure where sperm is introduced directly into the recipient’s uterus during her fertile period. This can be done at the fertility clinic or at home through self-insemination kits. On the other hand, IVF requires fertilisation in the lab before transfer to the woman’s uterus for implantation.
Donor eggs and sperm can be a successful pathway to parenthood for individuals and couples facing certain fertility challenges. This approach offers the opportunity to have biological children when traditional methods are not effective. If it’s a possible solution for you, consult a fertility specialist, and you will get the necessary help.