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All About Sperm or Egg Donation and Surrogacy

Surrogacy and egg or sperm donation are assisted reproductive techniques that help individuals and couples build their families when they face challenges with fertility or genetic issues. These methods involve third-party assistance in the conception and gestation process.


Surrogacy is a process in which a woman (the surrogate) carries and gives birth to a child on behalf of another individual or couple (the Intended Parents).

There are two main types of surrogacy:

Traditional Surrogacy: In traditional surrogacy, the surrogate provides both her egg and serves as the gestational carrier. This means she is genetically related to the child she carries. Traditional surrogacy is less common due to legal and emotional complexities. Because of the direct biological ties, in some states, traditional surrogacy is prohibited outright, even as gestational surrogacy is permitted.

Gestational Surrogacy: In gestational surrogacy, the surrogate carries an embryo created using either the Intended Mother’s egg and the Intended Father’s sperm or donor egg and sperm. The surrogate is not genetically related to the child. Gestational surrogacy is the far and away most common type of surrogacy practiced today.

Egg Donation:

Egg donation involves a woman (the egg donor) providing her eggs to another individual or couple who cannot conceive using their own eggs due to various reasons, such as gender, infertility, age, or genetic disorders. The process typically involves the following steps:


Before the egg donation process begins, potential egg donors undergo a comprehensive screening process to ensure their suitability for donation. This screening typically includes:

Medical History: Detailed medical history is collected to identify any preexisting conditions or genetic disorders.

Physical Examination: A thorough physical examination, including a pelvic exam, is conducted.

Educational Background: While educational qualifications are considered, they are not typically a strict requirement for egg donation. However, donors with higher education levels may be preferred by some recipients.

Family and Genetic History: Egg donors provide comprehensive details about their family’s medical backgrounds including any known genetic disorders or ailments.

Blood Tests: Blood tests are performed to check hormone levels, detect infectious diseases, and screen for genetic conditions.

Psychological Evaluation: A psychological assessment may be conducted to assess the donor’s mental and emotional readiness for the process

Ovarian Stimulation:

Once a donor is deemed suitable and legal documents have been signed, she will proceed to the hormonal and medical part of the process. Ovarian stimulation is a crucial step in which the donor’s ovaries are stimulated to produce multiple mature eggs.

This involves:

Hormone Injections: The donor receives daily hormone injections (commonly FSH and LH) to stimulate follicle growth in the ovaries.

Monitoring: Regular transvaginal ultrasound scans and blood tests are conducted to monitor follicle development and hormone levels.

Adjusting Medications: The hormone doses may be adjusted based on monitoring results.

The goal is to produce multiple mature eggs for retrieval, as only a portion of the eggs retrieved during the procedure will typically be suitable for fertilization.

Egg Retrieval:

When the follicles have reached the appropriate size, typically after about 10-14 days of ovarian stimulation, the egg retrieval procedure is scheduled. This is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure performed in a fertility clinic or a hospital. The steps involved in egg retrieval include:

Anesthesia: The donor is placed under conscious sedation or general anesthesia to minimize discomfort and pain during the procedure.

Transvaginal Ultrasound: A thin, hollow needle is guided into the ovaries using transvaginal ultrasound imaging.

Aspiration: The needle is used to aspirate the fluid and eggs from the mature follicles one by one. This process takes about 20-30 minutes.

Egg Collection: The eggs collected are immediately handed over to the embryologist for assessment and preparation for fertilization.


After the egg retrieval procedure, the donor is typically monitored for a short period to ensure there are no immediate complications.




Reasons Intended Parents may need both egg donors and surrogacy:

People may choose to use egg donors and surrogacy for various reasons when faced with fertility challenges or medical conditions that prevent them from conceiving and carrying a child on their own. Here are some common reasons:

Infertility: Individuals or couples dealing with infertility may require egg donors and surrogacy. Infertility can be caused by factors such advanced maternal age, low egg quality, and/or uterine abnormalities.

Age-Related Infertility: As women age, the quality and quantity of their eggs typically decline. Women in their late 30s and 40s may seek egg donors if their own eggs are no longer viable for conception.

Premature Ovarian Failure: Some women experience premature ovarian failure, a condition in which the ovaries stop functioning before the age of 40. Egg donors are essential in such cases.

Genetic Disorders: Couples at risk of passing on severe genetic disorders or chromosomal abnormalities to their offspring may opt for egg donation to use eggs from a donor with no genetic mutations.

Recurrent Pregnancy Loss: Women who have experienced multiple miscarriages or recurrent pregnancy loss may turn to egg donation and surrogacy if they are unable to carry a pregnancy to term.

Same-Sex Couples: Same-sex male couples and some same-sex female couples may require both egg donors and surrogates to have children.

Unexplained Infertility: In some cases, infertility may have no clear underlying cause, and couples may explore various assisted reproductive technologies, including egg donation and surrogacy, to increase their chances of conception.

Sperm Donation:

Sperm donation involves a man (the sperm donor) providing his sperm to be used for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. Sperm donation is commonly used in the following situations:

Male Infertility: When a male partner has fertility issues, such as low sperm count or poor sperm quality.

Single Women or Same-Sex Couples: Single women and same-sex couples may use sperm donation to achieve pregnancy.

Genetic Concerns: When there are concerns about passing on genetic disorders or diseases through the male’s sperm.

Medical and Health Screenings for Sperm Donors:

Physical Examination: Sperm donors undergo a physical examination to assess their overall health.  Donors undergo blood tests to screen for infectious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis, and others.

Genetic Testing: Donors may undergo genetic testing to identify any potential genetic disorders or conditions they might carry. The specific tests performed can vary but may include screening for common genetic conditions like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell disease, and others.

Semen Analysis: Sperm donors provide semen samples for analysis to assess sperm count, motility, morphology, and other sperm parameters. Only donors with healthy sperm parameters are accepted.

Urinalysis: A urinalysis may be conducted to check for any signs of urinary tract or kidney issues.

Psychological Evaluation: Donors may undergo a psychological evaluation to assess their mental and emotional suitability for sperm donation. This evaluation helps ensure that donors understand the emotional and ethical aspects of the process.

Detailed Family and Medical History: Donors provide detailed information about their family’s medical history, including any known genetic conditions or diseases. This helps identify potential risks and hereditary factors.

Quarantine Period: After passing the initial screenings, donors typically enter a quarantine period during which they abstain from sexual activity or semen donation. This is done to ensure that the donated sperm is free from recent infections.

Legal and ethical aspects of surrogacy, egg donation, and sperm donation can vary widely by jurisdiction. Legal agreements, parental rights, and compensation for donors and surrogates are subjects of careful consideration and regulation in many places. It’s essential for all parties involved to seek legal advice and follow established guidelines.


FAQ – Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Sperm Donation

What is surrogacy, and what are the main types?

Surrogacy is a process in which a woman (the surrogate) carries and gives birth to a child on behalf of another individual or couple (the Intended Parents).

What is egg donation, and what are the steps involved?

Egg donation involves a woman (the egg donor) providing her eggs to another individual or couple who cannot conceive using their own eggs. The process includes:

Comprehensive Screening: Donors provide medical history, undergo physical examinations, blood tests, genetic testing, and psychological evaluations.

Ovarian Stimulation: Donors receive hormone injections to stimulate egg production.

Egg Retrieval: Mature eggs are retrieved through a minimally invasive procedure.

Recovery: Donors are monitored for a brief period post-retrieval.

What is sperm donation and when is it used?

Sperm donation involves a man (the sperm donor) providing his sperm for artificial insemination or IVF. It is used in cases of male infertility, by single women or same-sex couples, and when there are concerns about genetic disorders or diseases being passed on through the male’s sperm.

What legal and ethical aspects should be considered in these processes?

Legal and ethical aspects can vary by location. Legal agreements, parental rights, and compensation for donors and surrogates are carefully regulated. Seek legal advice and follow established guidelines to ensure a smooth and ethical process.

Please note that specific details and requirements may vary by fertility clinic, country, or region. Always consult with healthcare professionals and legal experts for personalized guidance on assisted reproductive techniques.


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Bridget Myers

Bridget Myers grew up in small town in Maryland. She started her career as a substitute teacher before meeting the love of her life and moving to the suburbs of Chicago. She has a passion for dogs and painting. Bridget got involved in Surrogacy Place after researching surrogacy for her best friend. Since joining the team at Surrogacy Place, she has developed a passion for advocating on behalf of Intended Parents and surrogates and doing her part for meaningful reform in the industry.