By Andrea Rodrigo BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 05/17/2016

Embryo donation, also known as embryo adoption, is a fertility treatment by which a couple uses the spare embryos remaining from the in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle of a couple who has decided to donate them.

It stands for a reproductive alternative chosen by couples who find themselves unable to create viable embryos with their own gametes. Nevertheless, even though many Russian clinics offer this treatment, the truth is that embryo donation is not so common within the country.

What are the reasons for needing embryo adoption?

Embryo donation is particularly indicated for couples facing infertility issues linked to the reproductive cells of both partners. Before cases of poor sperm quality combined with problems in the eggs, embryo donation may turn out to be the best option to achieve reproductive success.

It is also indicated for single women whose eggs do not reach a minimum quality standards, and therefore they cannot lead to the creation of embryos with implantation potential and the subsequent pregnancy.

One of the main advantages of embryo adoption is that it allows for a significant reduction of treatment time, as the only thing left to do would just involve the following steps: preparing the woman’s endometrium, defrosting the embryos, and performing the embryo transfer.

It allows us to skip the tiresome step involving ovulation induction and subsequent follicular puncture every normal process includes. This means that, with embryo adoption, neither surgery nor highly complex techniques have to be carried out.

Besides, donated embryos are the unused embryos that were created for the IVF cycle of another couple. For this reason, children born using them won’t share the genetic code of the intended parents. It is possible that they have one or more “genetic siblings”, born from the gametes of the couple who donated the spare embryos remaining after their IVF cycle.

It should be clear that the receiving couple cannot get to know their embryo donors, not the other way around. And the same applies to donor-conceived children, that is, they won’t have access to such information.

Preparation of the endometrium

As mentioned earlier, the only treatment left for the woman who is about to receive donor embryos focuses on preparing her endometrium. By doing this, we boost the chances of embryo implantation, thereby increasing her pregnancy success rates.

This treatment is known as artificial endometrial preparation, and it requires the woman to take hormone medications by mouth, vaginal, or patch route. The aim is to make the endometrial lining acquire the following characteristics:

  • Thickness is around 7-10 mm
  • Triple-line appearance

By means of ultrasound scan, your physician will monitor endometrial development in order to determine when it is prepared. Then, the embryo(s) will be thawed and transferred to the patient’s uterus.

Embryo transfer is a simple, short, and painless procedure. Within 20 minutes after the transfer, patients can return home and continue with their normal lifestyle, although avoiding great efforts. Bed rest is only advisable in special cases.

As one can see, it is a comfortable treatment, since injectable medications are not required as in the case of ovarian stimulation. Moreover, the medications used for this procedure are way milder, with less side effects. This advantage translates into a relief for patients.

In the case of international patients, some clinics allow them to start with endometrial preparation from their home country, including the performance of any ultrasound scan that is required. By doing this, the patient has to travel to Russia only once.

Some patients have a preference for returning to their home country on the day of the transfer, after a reasonable rest time, while others prefer to travel on the day after the embryo transfer.

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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
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One comment

    1. Latin girl

      I would never pursue egg donation or embryo donation in Russia! I’m from Oaxaca, Mexico and I wouldn’t like our baby to develop Russian physical characteristics or personality traits. Russian people is quite different from us, just a question of cultural differences. I’d hate myself for that!! And my husband would hate me too.