By Andrea Rodrigo BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 11/25/2015

Every couple wishes to have children through the union of their own gametes in the first place. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, since sometimes having poor-quality eggs and/or sperm or no gamete at all leaves a great number of couples no choice but to turn to donor conception.

Even though it is rather infrequent, in some cases both the man and the woman present fertility problems that prevent them from using their own eggs and spermatozoa in a fertility treatment, therefore having to necessarily use both donor eggs and donor sperm.

What do we mean by double-donor IVF?

Pregnancy through double donation refers to a fertility treatment used for in vitro fertilization cycles. In this case, the used embryos are created from both donor eggs and sperm. This means the embryos have been created by someone other than those who will become the legal parents of the baby-to-be.

The steps involved in double donation process are:

  • Sperm donor selection and semen collection
  • Egg donor selection and egg retrieval
  • Union of donated eggs and sperm
  • Monitoring of IVF process
  • Preparation for egg donor recipients
  • Embryo transfer using best-quality embryos
  • Pregnancy test
  • Freezing unused embryos

At a technical level, no differences can be found between double-donor IVF and conventional IVF with own gametes. However, from the intended parents’ point of view, it can turn out to be a harder process not only because they have to go through two recruitment processes (i.e. choosing both a sperm donor and an egg donor), but also because coping with infertility is not easy at a psychological level.

As for the effectiveness of this treatment, it should be noted that it presents high success rates, since the gametes used have been donated by young, healthy people.

Accepting the need of both donor eggs and sperm

Coming to terms with the fact that our baby’s genetic load won’t be ours but that of somebody else, either from an anonymous, known or semi-known donor, is not easy for most intended parents. Nevertheless, sometimes the willingness of some women to achieve pregnancy outweighs any disadvantage related to genetics, thus placing the idea of being responsible of a baby, taking care of him and bringing him up in the forefront.

A large number of people and couples need to use both donor eggs and sperm to make their dream of having a baby come true. To accomplish this, many of them resort to emotional and psychological support on the road towards understanding and courage. By doing this, the psychological impact this process may generate in the parents won’t affect the baby-to-be.

Accepting double-donor IVF

In this sense, defining how do each individual person understand the concepts of being a mother or father is crucial:

  • Those who think genetics goes hand in hand with parenthood won’t be able to accept the need of donor gametes. In these cases, pursuing other means to achieve pregnancy is the most recommendable option; otherwise, there is no other option but to resign oneself to the idea of not having a child.
  • Those who see motherhood/parenthood as the journey towards bringing up, educating, taking care and being responsible of a child won’t have any problem with double-donor IVF, which means that far from causing any trauma, they will cope with it easily.

Contrary to the common misconception that using both donor eggs and sperm is only indicated for heterosexual couples, many same-sex couples and single people decide to use this method as their way to become parents too. In the United States, for instance, double-donor IVF cycles are allowed for every family type.

Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
BSc, MSc
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information