By Andrea Rodrigo BSc, MSc (embryologist).
Last Update: 02/10/2016

Gamete donation, i.e. donor eggs and sperm, is a fertility treatment that consists of using the male and female reproductive cells from a person other than one of the intended parents with the aim of carrying out an assisted reproduction technique that allows them to achieve pregnancy. In Spain, such treatment must be an anonymous, altruistic procedure.

Both egg donation and sperm donation are fertility treatments that become necessary for a wide range of patients who are unable to conceive naturally due to one of the following causes:

  • Repeated unsuccessful assisted conception treatment
  • Presence of a genetic disorder that runs in the family
  • Detection of absence, low quantity and/or poor quality of own eggs and/or spermatozoa
  • Absence of a male partner

Two assisted reproductive technologies can be used in case you are in need of donor sperm: artificial insemination (AI) and in vitro fertilization (IVF). Should you need donor eggs or double-donor IVF, artificial insemination would be ruled out, which means the chosen technique then would be IVF, either carried out conventionally or via its advanced version, that is, ICSI.

Success rates of fertility treatments where donor gametes are used remain high, since the eggs and the sperm used are of optimal quality.

Absence of a male partner

The absence of a man in lesbian couples and single women willing to be on motherhood leaves them no choice but to use donor sperm in order to make their dream of conceiving come true.

Artificial insemination by donor (AID) is the most popular option among single women wishing to have a child, since it is the most cost-affordable and simplest technique. In case there is some female fertility problem, then the absence of a male partner would not be the only reason why assisted conception may become necessary. Given the situation, only in vitro fertilization could be used, discarding therefore artificial insemination.

For same-sex female couples, artificial insemination becomes in many cases their method of preference as well, since it is a low-complexity, simple, quick, and low-risk assisted reproduction technique. Nevertheless, a large number of lesbian couples prefer reciprocal in vitro fertilization over AI.

Reciprocal IVF, PAiR method, co-IVF, or lesbian IVF stands for the reception of oocytes from partner and works as follows: while one of the partners hands her eggs over for the other woman, the other partner is the one carrying the embryos created in the laboratory from donor sperm and her partner’s egg. For this method to be available, lesbian couples must be married, according to Spanish Law on Assisted Human Reproduction techniques (henceforth, LAHRT).

In vitro fertilization

In vitro fertilization is an assisted reproductive technology used when egg donation or both egg donation and sperm donation are required. It is indicated for heterosexual couples, lesbian couples, and single women.

Within Spain, surrogacy is not addressed in the LAHRT, which means that same-sex male couples cannot take advantage of egg donation for undergoing this fertility treatment.

In vitro fertilization using donor eggs can be carried out either through conventional IVF or intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), depending basically on sperm quality.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) is another fertility treatment that can be performed as well if in vitro fertilization is the chosen procedure. In such case, the embryos will be genetically analyzed with the aim of ruling out for the embryo transfer those carrying any anomaly or genetic abnormality.

Keeping in mind that donor eggs have been collected from a young, healthy woman who is free from any genetic disease, PGD is performed in only a few cases, since embryos obtained from donor eggs are expected not to present genetic disorders, as they have been created from high-quality eggs.

Sharing is caring

Our editors have made great efforts to create this content for you. By sharing this post, you are helping us to keep ourselves motivated to work even harder.

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
Follow us on social media

Find the latest news on assisted reproduction in our channels.

One comment

    1. I Love My Belly

      Hello, thanks for sharing this! I’m from Baja California and did my IVF cycle with donor eggs in Spain, because I’m used to travel there to spend my summer holidays. The staff at my clinic was wonderful, I’ve no complaint! I think doing an IVF cycle in Spain is really worth it! I’m pregnant now, so I guess my success rates are 100%.