Third-party reproduction involves utilizing an outside source (someone other than the intended parents), known as a third-party, to achieve fertilization and/or a healthy pregnancy. Third-parties can consist of egg, sperm, or embryo donors, as well as gestational carriers (surrogates).
There are many reasons why third-party reproduction is utilized. Common reasons include:
It is worth noting that some countries do not allow all or any types of third-party reproduction. As of now, all types are permitted in the United States. Important legal documents are required for any use of third-parties for assisted reproduction at an IVF clinic. These documents protect both the intended parents, any applicable third-parties, and any resulting offspring from third-party reproduction. Pelex follows all ASRM guidelines regarding third-party reproduction at all times.
Let’s take a closer look at the types of third-parties available:
Donor Gametes (Eggs and Sperm)
Donated gametes can be utilized to achieve fertilization and pregnancy through IVF (donor sperm can also be utilized for IUI procedures). The identities of gamete donors can be anonymous (unknown to the intended parent(s)) or known to the intended parent(s). Most often, anonymous donor gametes are frozen and stored in egg/sperm banks. In these situations, a lot (also called a bundle) of eggs or a vial (or more) of frozen sperm is purchased and transported to the IVF clinic. On the day of insemination, some or all of the eggs and/or sperm are thawed prior to insemination. It is possible to utilize donor eggs and sperm for IVF. For more information about IUI or IVF procedures, please see _____ and _____.
Before donating their gametes, all donors should be screened for infectious diseases (hepatitis, HIV, etc.) and genetic diseases (sometimes they are carriers of genetic diseases and do not know it) to reduce the risk of transmitting these to any offspring resulting from their donated eggs/sperm. Pelex will only accept donated gametes from approved donor banks that have undergone these screening procedures. The process of selecting a donor is personal, but many egg/sperm banks have websites that are easy to navigate when choosing a donor. Always remember to have donor gametes transported to your IVF clinic prior to the start of your treatment to ensure that they are available on the day of insemination.
Though less common than gamete donation, embryo donation is growing in popularity among IVF clinics. Donor embryos are often anonymously donated by a person or couple who has undergone IVF in the past. It is also possible to donate embryos to a known recipient, though this process involves many steps (talk with your doctor for more information).
While some clinics offer an in-house embryo donation program, many people utilize outside agencies to donate or receive donated embryos. If you choose to receive a donated embryo(s), the embryo(s) can be transported to the IVF clinic prior to a frozen embryo transfer.
Gestational Carriers (Surrogates)
A gestational carrier (GC), also known as a surrogate, undergoes an embryo transfer with the intention of carrying a pregnancy to term and giving birth for an intended parent(s). In other words, gestational carriers are not the biological mothers of the embryo(s) being transferred. Of note, a traditional surrogate refers to a woman who acts as both the egg source and surrogate, but this option is not currently offered at Pelex.
Gestational carriers can either be someone known to the intended parent(s) or someone selected from an outside agency. Gestational carriers should also be screened for infectious diseases that can be passed on to the baby/babies that they are carrying. Talk with your Pelex physician regarding the use of a gestational carrier if you have further questions.