04 Nov The Basics of Third-Party Parenting from US Fertility Network
With third-party parenting, the infertile couple uses donated eggs, sperm, and/or embryos from a third person. The egg, sperm, and embryo donors may be anonymous, or they could be a relative, family friend, or acquaintance. Third-party parenting can involve a surrogate or gestational carrier, who is someone who carries the pregnancy to term.
Third-party parenting is a complicated process. Donors, gestational carriers, and surrogates must first be screened for medical and psychological problems before any procedures begin. In addition, couples undergo testing to assess their emotional readiness for using a third-party parent. Finally, the couple and third parties should carefully consider legal implications and seek advice from an experienced attorney.
Use of an Egg Donor
Egg donors are often available through the fertility center, or the couple can consult an outside agency. Using an egg donor is an option for any woman who experiences ovarian failure or who does not have eggs available. If the couple wishes to use a friend or relative, this is possible. In addition, women who undergo IVF often have extra eggs that have been donated to the fertility center (cryopreserved or frozen eggs). Most egg donors are between 21 and 32 years of age.
Before donated the eggs, the donor is given hormone injections that stimulate egg development. Once multiple eggs develop, the donor receives human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), which stimulates ovulation. The eggs can be retrieved within 34 hours in a procedure called transvaginal ultrasound aspiration. After being fertilized with the male recipient’s sperm (or donor sperm), the eggs develop into embryos, which are inserted into the female partner’s uterus.
Use of a Sperm Donor
When using sperm donors, the specimen is obtained via masturbation, and a test sample is frozen, thawed, and evaluated to meet standards. The donor sperm are “washed” to concentrate specimens to increase the chance of obtaining motile, healthy sperm for insemination. Insemination is often scheduled in accordance with the female partner’s cycle.
For some couples, the fertility issue involves both the man’s sperm and the female’s egg. For these situations, donated embryos are used. When a couple has IVF, many embryos are not used in the transfer process. These embryos are often donated to the fertility clinic. In other situations, the couple can use donor sperm and eggs, which are combined in the laboratory. The resulting embryos (donor embryos) are then transferred to the recipient female’s uterus.
Use of a Surrogate
The two types of surrogacy are traditional and gestational. A gestational surrogate is the most common. With this form of surrogacy, a woman carries a child that is not related to her in any way. The egg and/or sperm come from the recipient couple. An embryo is created using laboratory technology, where the male partner’s sperm is inserted into the female partner’s egg. When the father’s sperm or the mother’s eggs cannot be used, the couple often use donors, which is called traditional surrogacy. With one form of traditional surrogacy, the surrogate provides the egg and carries the baby to term. The sperm is combined with the surrogate’s egg in the laboratory.
Couples Who Benefit from Gestational Carriers
Couples who will benefit from a gestational carrier include:
- Female partner with uterine abnormalities
- Couple who fails on intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF
- Female partner with medical conditions that make pregnancy problematic
- Couple who has certain genetic disorders
- Woman who has had repeated miscarriages
- Woman with immunological problem that increases the chance of miscarriage
- Couple with unexplained infertility
- Woman who had hysterectomy