Embryo Donation



Infertility in Western countries is increasing every year, and more and more couples are turning to specialists in the field of reproductive medicine for various reasons. One of the last therapies that partners resort to on the way to their dream of becoming parents is the use of donated gametes or embryos. The 10 most frequently asked questions about fertilization with a donated embryo were answered by Darina Krutinová, MD, an expert in the field of assisted reproduction currently working at the FertiCare Clinic, which specializes in the complex treatment of female and male infertility, including treatment with donated eggs, sperm or embryos.

For which patients is embryo donation indicated?

Treatment with donated embryos is usually chosen by couples who cannot use their own gametes, i.e. eggs or sperm, for fertilization. In most cases, patients undergo several IVF cycles with their gametes without treatment success. In women, the main reason is the low supply of their own eggs or their unusability due to age. In men, it is usually the absence of sperm or very serious abnormalities in the sperm analysis – the spermiogram. At the same time, there is also a large group of patients where we detect a problem at the genetic level that leads to poor fertility or embryo quality.

Where do the donated embryos come from?

The donated embryos are created by the union of gametes – the donor’s eggs and sperm. They are custom „made“ so that the phenotype of the sperm donor and the egg donor matches the recipient pair. Phenotype is a collective term for appearance characteristics of an individual, such as body size, eye color, skin color, etc. We simply look for donors who are most similar to the woman and man undergoing the treatment cycle with the donated embryo in our clinic. In addition to physical appearance, we try to consider the couple’s interests and character as much as possible during the selection process.

What are the requirements for donors who donate their gametes – eggs and sperm?

The age of the donors must be, usually up to 35 years for women and maximum 40 years for men. Gamete donors are very thoroughly screened for infectious diseases (e.g. HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, hepatitis B, C, chlamydia) and subjected to very strict genetic analysis. Even the smallest possible exposure to a hereditary disease in the family is unacceptable for the donor and immediately excludes him from the donor program. We also pay attention to a healthy lifestyle (non-smoker, not overweight, etc.).

Is embryo donation anonymous?

The law in the Czech Republic stipulates that the embryo donation is strictly anonymous, as well as gamete donation (egg and sperm donation). Recipients do not receive information about the donor’s identity or photos, and the same applies vice versa. Thus, the donor does not learn any information about the potential recipients. These measures protect both sides from potential problems of late contact.

How long does such therapy last?

The waiting time for the embryo donation varies from clinic to clinic. In some clinics, there are no waiting times for consultations and initial examinations. However, the total duration of treatment depends on the specific requirements of the donor. If one has a large database of male and female donors and selects the most suitable candidates from this database for the best possible match with a particular couple, the entire treatment from the initial consultation to the transfer of the donated embryo into the recipient’s uterus takes 30 to 60 days.

At what stage of embryonic development are the embryos?

In our case, the donated embryos for transfer are exclusively in the blastocyst stage. Embryos that have reached the blastocyst stage statistically have the greatest capacity of implantation, having passed the critical stage of development (from day 3), when some embryos stop developing, mostly due to chromosomal changes.

What is the pregnancy success rate with a donated embryo?

For many patients, embryo donation is the only way to fulfill their desire to have a child. The results offered by this technique are excellent. The pregnancy rate with donated embryos is 47% in the first transfer and reaches 90% after 3 or 4 attempts, regardless of the age of the patient. It is important to prepare the patient for the embryo transfer with the right medication, as this is crucial for the further development of the embryo.

How is the uterus prepared for embryo transfer?

Preparing the uterus to receive donated embryos is generally much easier than IVF stimulation itself. If the patient has a regular menstrual cycle, it can be performed in a natural cycle by simply transferring the embryo 5 days after ovulation if the height and structure of the endometrium – the lining of the uterus – is also correct. In patients who do not have a cycle or irregular menstruation, or in whom the growth of the endometrium is not ideal, we prepare the uterus with hormone therapy, in which the two hormones estradiol and progesterone are the supporting pillar.

Are there emotional aspects to embryo donation?

Of course, a couple who decides to receive a donated embryo must consider all the emotional aspects associated with giving up their own genetics in favor of pregnancy. Not all partners are ready to take this step at the same time, and different paths lead to a final joint decision. Before an embryo is transferred, any doubts should, of course, be addressed and resolved. In the past, with a few exceptions, partners tended to keep the receipt of a donated embryo a secret. Nowadays, people are more open about this form of therapy and patients are no longer afraid to talk about it.

What can I do if I am considering the possibility of embryo donation?

If you would like to learn more about gamete or embryo donation, contact an assisted reproduction center. In a personal consultation, you can discuss your case in person and get answers to your questions.

Your fertility expert

The article was prepared and provided by our partner clinic „FertiCare „in Prague, Karlovy Vary and Znojmo.

In FertiCare clinics we focus on holistic therapy of infertility and our target group is primarily clients from German-speaking countries.

MUDr. Petr Uher
Dr. Petr Uher

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