Everything You Need To Know About Using Donor Eggs And Sperm For IVF

For many childless couples trying to start their families—IVF comes as a boon that helps them realise their dream of becoming a parent. And while most couples enter their doctor’s clinics well knowing the basics of IVF, for many others the process comes as a surprise, especially when donor gametes are involved. 


Contrary to popular belief and common myths, donor eggs and sperms aren’t used for any and all IVF procedures. Rather, they are only utilised when the couple’s own gametes—eggs or sperm—are not suitable to create an embryo. Says Dr Rinke S Tiwari, founder and clinical director Origin Fertility Clinic & Research Center, Hyderabad: “Donor gametes should be used judicially and only in cases where they are required.” 


So who needs donor eggs and sperm, and how does the process work? Well, Dr Tiwari has the answers for you here. 


Who needs donor eggs?
If you are young and have a good ovarian reserve, chances are that you won’t need to use donor eggs in order to conceive via IVF. However, in certain cases, using someone else’s eggs becomes the only way to move forward with IVF. Here are some indications, as suggested by Dr Tiwari, that hint towards a donor egg IVF cycle for you: 


*You are over 45 years of age

*You have premature ovarian failure 

*You have poor egg quality 

*You have a low ovarian reserve 

*You have had multiple failed IVF cycles 

*Genetic disorders run in your family 


Who needs donor sperm?
Much like donor eggs, donor sperms are needed when the male partner’s gametes can’t be used to create an embryo. Here are some situations, according to Dr Tiwari, in which using donor sperms become imperative to achieve an IVF pregnancy: 


*You have azoospermia or a complete absence of sperm and are not willing to opt for ICSI. 

*You have a significant genetic defect 

*You have had multiple failed IVF cycles 

*You want to conceive without a male partner 

But how are donor eggs and sperms sourced? 

“Fertility clinics obtain donor gametes from ART banks only, and known donors—either for eggs or sperms—are not permitted,” explains Dr Tiwari. 


That said, when you go in for donor IVF you are provided with some information about the donor to help you make an informed choice. “Non-specific information of the donor including height, weight, skin colour, educational qualifications, and medical history (including HIV/AIDS status) is provided to the couple,” she says. However, the identity of the donor is kept completely anonymous and specifics of the person are not shared at any cost. 

What about IVF success rates with donor gametes?

“Donor egg or sperm is associated with a higher success rate in treating infertility,” suggests Dr Tiwari. In fact, studies suggest that couples going in for a donor egg IVF cycle have a 50 to 60% likelihood of conceiving in the first attempt—a number that goes up to 90% with multiple attempts. 


“However, you need to keep in mind that donor age is the most significant factor contributing to a high success rate of an IVF cycle. That said, the recipient’s endometrial preparation and the quality of the embryo also plays a very important role,” she adds.


Are there any drawbacks of using donor gametes?
There is no denying that using donor eggs and sperms come with a plethora of advantages. But in some cases, they can also pose a few risks. Explains Dr Tiwari: “A wide number of research papers demonstrate that there is a significantly high risk of preeclampsia, foetal growth restriction and preterm birth in case of donor egg IVF as compared to self egg IVF.” 


Should you go in for a donor gamete IVF? Here’s what Dr Tiwari has to say

“With recent developments and new technology, the world is moving towards self egg/sperm IVF—even in challenging cases. I encourage couples to have their own genetic child unless donor gametes is the last resort,” she concludes.