More and more couples throughout the United States are now facing fertility issues. Many of these couples resort to conventional fertility treatments, including IUI and IVF to become pregnant. Often, fertility treatment helps these couples to conceive and deliver a beautiful baby. Unfortunately, though, fertility treatments are not always successful. If you and your partner are having troubles getting pregnant even with fertility treatments, you may want to consider embryo donation. Embryo donation can help offer infertile couples the chance to carry a pregnancy to term and to welcome a new member into the family.
What is Embryo Donation?
Embryo donation is seen as an alternative route to pregnancy. It helps couples that would otherwise be unable to conceive, carry a pregnancy to term. A relatively new procedure, embryo donation involves using another couple’s embryos in order to conceive. These donated embryos are then transferred into your uterus using frozen embryo transfer. Embryo donation is chosen by many couples who are unable to afford conventional reproductive treatments or who have been unsuccessful with IVF treatments.
Types of Embryo Donation
There are two types of embryo donation:
- Frozen Embryo Donation: Frozen embryo donation involves using frozen embryos donated by another infertile couple. Many couples go through IVF treatments in order to get pregnant. Typically, 12 embryos are created for each IVF treatment. Yet, only three of these embryos are ever implanted. Many couples choose to donate their remaining frozen embryos to couples who are having trouble conceiving.
- Embryo Creation: Embryo creation involves using a donated egg and a donated sperm to create an embryo. This embryo will not be biologically related to you. The resulting embryo is then transferred into your uterus.
Success Rates of Embryo Donation
Typical success rates with embryo donation range from about 16% to 20% per transfer. However, success rates will fluctuate depending upon the quality of the embryo that is being used.
Who Can Benefit From Embryo Donation?
Embryo donation can be of great benefit to couples facing specific fertility problems. Embryo donation is commonly used when both partners are experiencing fertility issues. Embryo donation is often pursued by couples experiencing problems with:
- egg production and ovulation
- sperm count and production
Embryo donation can also be used by couples who:
- can’t afford or can’t pursue adoption
- can’t afford more expensive fertility treatments
- have been unsuccessful with other forms of ART
- are at high risk of passing down genetic disorders but cannot pursue PGD
Why Pursue Embryo Donation?
There are a number of benefits to turning to embryo donation in order to conceive:
- Embryo donation is usually less expensive than other ART procedures, like IVF.
- It is less complicated and expensive than adoption.
- Embryo donation can help you to become pregnant and give birth within one year.
Drawbacks to Embryo Donation
Embryo donation should never be undertaken lightly as there are some drawbacks associated with the procedure. Primarily, success rates of embryo donation tend to be lower than those associated with egg donation. This is because embryos are:
- frozen for long periods of time before they are donated (embryo freezing compromises the quality of the embryo)
- thawed before being transferred (not all embryos will survive this thawing process)
- taken from infertile couples (they may not be of the best quality)
How Do You Find an Embryo Donor?
Embryo donation is typically offered by fertility clinics and agencies specializing in the field. If you wish to find an embryo donor, you must go to one of these clinics or agencies and register with them. There is usually a registration fee of about $200.
You will meet with a counselor who will help you to find a suitable donor from their list of registered donors. Embryos can be matched to your religious, cultural, or spiritual background. Embryo donation is normally anonymous, although it is sometimes performed on an open basis. Typically, you will be asked to settle on a few donors so that you have at least six possible embryos to use during transfer.
Is Embryo Donation Safe?
Embryo donation is an extremely safe procedure, with all embryos undergoing proper diagnostic screening prior to transfer. All donated embryos are frozen and quarantined for six months. They are also tested for infectious diseases, such as HIV and hepatitis. Genetic testing is also performed on all donated embryos to reduce the chances of genetic diseases or chromosomal defects.
After Your Find A Donor
After you find a donor, your embryo transfer can take place. Embryo transfer is usually performed in hospital or at your local fertility clinic. You will be given fertility drugs in order to help your endometrial lining to thicken and to prepare the rest of your body for pregnancy. Your reproductive endocrinologist will monitor you in order to pinpoint the best time for transfer. When your hormones are at the appropriate balance, your reproductive endocrinologist will transfer the donated embryos into your uterus using the frozen embryo transfer procedure. You will then be monitored for pregnancy.
Legal Aspects of Embryo Donation
You may be worried about the legal aspects of embryo donation. It is important to check the laws in your state governing embryo donation. You want to make sure that your embryo donors have no legal rights to the embryo once it has been donated, or to any resulting children. Typically, embryo donors waive parental rights before a transfer takes place. You and your partner become the legal parents of the embryo once it is implanted.
Costs of Embryo Donation
Embryo donation is typically less expensive than other types of reproductive treatments. The embryo donor receives no payment for the embryo; however, you must pay the clinic or agency for storing the embryo, testing the embryo, and transferring the embryo into your uterus. These procedures can run upwards of $3,000 per transfer. Typically, no more than 2 embryos are transferred during each attempt.