Double donor IVF: assisted reproduction with donor egg and sperm

By (gynecologist), (embryologist), (embryologist), (embryologist), (biochemist) and (invitra staff).
Last Update: 09/14/2022

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) with double gamete donation consists of a fertility treatment in which the sperm of a donor is used to fertilize the eggs of a donor, both of which are anonymous, and transfer the resulting embryos to a woman or a recipient couple.

IVF with egg and sperm donation is used in cases where patients are unable to contribute their own gametes due to various fertility problems.

Although it is an expensive treatment, IVF with double donation is a completely safe technique with very high success rates, allowing pregnancy to be achieved in most cases.

What is double-donor IVF?

IVF with eggs and donor sperm is a fertility treatment in which both members of the couple give up the genetic load of their gametes and turn to those of donors in order to become parents.

Gamete donation is a legal practice in the U.S and is characterized by the following points:

  • Gamete donation can be either anonymous or public.
  • Donors must be in good physical and mental health, between 21 andn in case of women, under 31 years old.
  • Donors must pass a series of medical and psychological tests.
  • No more than 6 children born from the same donor.
  • The clinic is in charge of selecting donors based on the physical and immunological characteristics of the recipients. The egg donors can be chosen by the woman, couple or the clinic staff.
  • Donors will receive financial compensation which depend on the nmber of eggs produced and the qualifications of the egg donor, among other things.

If you want more detailed information about this, you can read on here: Assisted Reproduction with donor eggs and sperm.

Indications

The doble-donor IVF is used in severe cases of infertility, when neither the woman nor the man are able to achieve a pregnancy with their eggs and sperm.

We will now discuss the main causes of this male and female sterility:

Couples with sterility problems
Missing ovaries, ovarian failure, low ovarian reserve, secretory azoospermia, repeated IVF failures with own gametes, risk of transmission of a hereditary disease from both parents, etc.
Single Mothers
in addition to needing donor sperm, these women also require egg donation due to advanced maternal age, poor egg quality, lack of eggs or other causes of female sterility.
Gay women
as in the previous case, a couple of women will have to resort to egg and sperm donation if neither of them can provide their own eggs.

In any case, the specialist doctor will always recommend to the woman or couple which is the best option to achieve pregnancy based on their specific situation.

The treatment step by step

The process and techniques for performing in vitro fertilization are the same as in the conventional form, but in the case of IVF with double donation two more figures are involved: egg and sperm donors.

Below, we will detail step by step the entire IVF procedure for both donors and recipients.

Donor selection

Donors are young, completely healthy men and women who anonymously and unselfishly give their sperm and eggs to be used by a woman or couple with fertility problems.

As we have said, these donors have to go through different medical and psychological tests before being considered suitable for donation, such as the following:

In men
physical examination, karyotype, seminogram, blood test, microbiological culture and psychological interview.
In women
physical examination, karyotype, Ultrasound, blood test, microbiological culture and psychological interview.

Furthermore, the clinic will try to ensure that donors have similar physical characteristics to recipients: hair and eye color, height, etc. and make a good phenotypical match.

Additionally, more and more clinics today include genetic compatibility testing, a test that allows the most compatible donors to be matched, so that they do not share any genetic mutations that could lead to a sick baby. This is what is known as genetic matching.

Process for the egg donor

Once the egg donor has been selected, she will have to take hormonal medication for approximately 2 weeks to perform controlled ovarian stimulation and obtain several mature follicles.

Every two days or so, the egg donor will come to the clinic for a hormonal and ultrasound control of the stimulation.

As soon as the follicles are grown, the gynecologist will proceed to extract the eggs by means of a follicular puncture or ovum pick-up, a very simple operation that is done under sedation.

This is where the process ends for the egg donor. She receives the financial compensation and, if indicated by the doctor, she will have to return for a final check-up.

Egg donation can be done either fresh or with frozen eggs from a donor bank. In the first case, it would be necessary to synchronize the donor's menstrual cycle with the recipient's and contraceptive pills would be used first.

You can read more about this in the following article: Egg donation: requirements, procedure and compensation.

Treatment in the recipient

The recipient of the eggs, on the other hand, has to follow an endometrial preparation treatment so that the uterus is receptive when receiving the embryos. In this way, the embryos will be able to implant themselves in the endometrium and start pregnancy.

To do this, the recipient woman will be given hormonal medication with estrogen and progesterone and will also have to make an appointment at gynecologist's for ultrasound controls of the endometrial growth.

You can find this entire process and a series of recommendations in the following article: Preparing the endometrium for embryo transfer.

Fertilization and embryo transfer

The donor eggs obtained, whether from the bank or fresh, are assessed in the laboratory and those that are mature are fertilized with the sperm from the sperm donor.

Donated sperm always come from a sperm bank, as the sample must remain frozen for a while before it can be used. Donor sperm cannot be used fresh as in the case of donated eggs.

Before fertilization, the donor sperm must be thawed and it must be checked that the sperm move and are alive.

The eggs are then fertilized by conventional IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and the embryos are left in culture for a few days.

Once 3 or 5 day old good-quality embryos are obtained and after checking that the endometrium of the recipient is of adequate thickness, the embryo transfer is performed.

The embryos that have not been transferred will be vitrified for future attempts or to try to have another child later.

The IVF treatment with double gamete donation will be finished when the pregnancy test is performed after about 10-15 days of the two-week-wait.

Success rates of pregnancy with donated eggs and sperm

The probability of success of IVF with egg and sperm donation is very high, more so than in an IVF with own gametes. Since the donors are young and in excellent health, this fertility treatment has the highest success rates.

Approximately, the pregnancy rate per embryo transfer is 55-60%, while the delivery rate per transfer is around 40%.

The data provided by the Spanish Fertility Society (Registro Nacional de Actividad 2019-Registro SEF) indicate that the pregnancy rate by fresh embryo transfer obtained from a double donation (eggs and sperm) is 54.5%, while the delivery rate by fresh transfer stands at 41.6%.

In the case of frozen embryos, the data recorded are 43.8% and 32.4%, respectively.

In fact, these percentages are similar to those for egg donation, since the quality of the egg is one of the most important factors determining the success of IVF treatment.

The excellent quality of eggs and sperm guarantees a high rate of fertilization. The embryos obtained are also of very good quality and have a high capacity for implantation.

Notwithstanding, the probability of pregnancy also depends on other factors such as the age of the recipient, uterine receptivity, the characteristics of the uterus and the evolution of the embryos.

Costs

IVF with egg and sperm donation is an expensive treatment, since two donors must be used and all expenses paid, although the price varies greatly depending on the clinic where it is performed.

In general, IVF with double donation of gametes can cost between $14,000 and $20,000.

In addition to these costs, hormonal medication to prepare the endometrium and donor medications are usually not included in the price and can cost an extra $3000-$5000.

If you are interested in reading more about the prices of fertility treatments, we recommend you read the following post: Costs in assisted reproduction.

Donor-egg IVF rises several doubts amongst fertility patients, and clinics often offer misleading or confusing information about egg donation programs. Transparency is, therefore, one of our top criteria when it comes to recommending a clinic to our readership. You can create your Fertility Report now, which will select the best clinic for you out of the list of fertility centers that have passed out rigorous selection process.

FAQs from users

Is there any other alternative to IVF with egg and sperm donation?

By Sara Salgado B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, another alternative is embryo adoption. The embryos come from couples who have had viable embryos left over from their IVF treatment and have decided to donate them.

This is an alternative with lower success rates, since the couples who donate them have had to resort to IVF to achieve pregnancy. However, the price is lower and the embryos are always of good quality, otherwise they would not have been accepted for the donation programme.

Does the age of the recipient woman influence the success rates of egg donation cycles?

By Elena Izquierdo Trechera M.D., M.Sc. (gynecologist).

The age of the recipient woman does influence the success rates of oocyte donation cycles since some studies have detected changes at the uterine level with age that may be responsible for the decrease in embryo implantation rates more markedly after age 45.

How many IVF cycles can be done in double donation?

By Sara Salgado B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

As with IVF of own gametes, there is no set limit. The woman or couple must decide how many attempts they are willing to make if they do not achieve pregnancy at first.

The success rates of this treatment are high, but if the woman has any problems in the endometrium or uterus, there may be complications for implantation to take place or for the pregnancy to develop properly.

Is it possible to do IVF with both donor eggs and sperm?

By Andrea Rodrigo B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, it is. This technique is known as double-donor IVF and is indicated in the following cases: problems in the ovaries (either because of age or other unknown causes), sperm problems (zero or low sperm count, or poor motility), and single females.

For further information, we recommend you to visit the following post: What is double-donor IVF?

One of the alternatives to IVF with double gamete donation is embryo donation, a more economical treatment that may be available to more patients. If you need information about this, do not hesitate to access the following post: What is embryo adoption?

Want to know about the success rates of the different types of fertility treatments? We recommend you to read on in the following article: Success rates of fertility treatments.

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

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References

Ballesteros A, Castilla JA, Nadal J, Ruiz, M. Manifiesto de la SEF sobre la donación de gametos en España. Publicado a través de la Sociedad Española de Fertilidad (SEF).

Colomé C, Carrasco M, Agramunt S, Checa MA, Carreras Collado R. Fertilidad en mujeres mayores de 40 años. Ginecología y Obstetricia Clínica. 2008; 9 (4): 216-227

Comisión Nacional de Reproducción Humana Asistida (CNRHA) (2015). Aspectos legales y éticos de la donación. En: Registro Nacional de Donantes de Gametos y Preembriones. Ministerio de Sanidad, Consumo y Bienestar Social de España. (view)

Kvist U, Björndahl L. ESHRE Monographs: Manual on Basic Semen Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Ley 14/2006, de 26 de mayo, sobre técnicas de reproducción humana asistida. Jefatura del Estado «BOE» núm. 126, de 27 de mayo de 2006 Referencia: BOE-A-2006-9292. (view)

Sociedad Española de la Fertilidad (SEF). Libro Blanco Sociosanitario. La Infertilidad en España Situación Actual y Perspectivas. Imago Concept & Image Development 2011.

Sociedad Española de Fertilidad (SEF) (2011). Manual de Andrología. Coordinador: Mario Brassesco. EdikaMed, S.L. ISBN: 978-84-7877.

Sociedad Española de Fertilidad. Registro Nacional de Actividad 2019-Registro SEF (view)

Sociedad Española de Fertilidad (SEF) (febrero de 2012). “Saber más sobre fertilidad y reproducción asistida”. En colaboración con el Ministerio de Sanidad, Política Social e Igualdad del Gobierno de España y el Plan de Calidad para el Sistema Nacional de Salud.

FAQs from users: 'Is there any other alternative to IVF with egg and sperm donation?', 'Does the age of the recipient woman influence the success rates of egg donation cycles?', 'How many IVF cycles can be done in double donation?' and 'Is it possible to do IVF with both donor eggs and sperm?'.

Read more

Authors and contributors

 Elena Izquierdo Trechera
Elena Izquierdo Trechera
M.D., M.Sc.
Gynecologist
Bachelor's Degree in Medicine by the Complutense University of Madrid. Specialist in Obstetrics & Gynecology. Master's Degree in Human Reproduction by the King Juan Carlos University and the IVI. Currently, she is the Medical Director of Clínica de Fertilidad Velázquez (Madrid, Spain). More information about Elena Izquierdo Trechera
License: 282866949
 Sara Salgado
Sara Salgado
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU). Master's Degree in Human Assisted Reproduction from the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). Certificate of University Expert in Genetic Diagnosis Techniques from the University of Valencia (UV). More information about Sara Salgado
 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Michelle Lorraine Embleton
Michelle Lorraine Embleton
B.Sc. Ph.D.
Biochemist
PhD in Biochemistry, University of Bristol, UK, specialising in DNA : protein intereactions. BSc honours degree in Molecular Biology, Univerisity of Bristol. Translation and editing of scientific and medical literature.
More information about Michelle Lorraine Embleton
 Romina Packan
Romina Packan
inviTRA Staff
Editor and translator for the English and German edition of inviTRA. More information about Romina Packan

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