About our Donor Services
Donor sperm is used where a man has no viable sperm and by single women or same sex couples, who often try self-insemination at home, turning to a clinic if this does not work. Donors may be recruited by fertility clinics or personally by the recipient. The process of sperm donation involves the following stages:
- The donors are screened for their family medical history and for diseases that can be transmitted through semen.
- Sperm is frozen and typically banked over several months for its future use.
- Three to six months later the screening tests are repeated, and the frozen sperm can be made available for use.
- Counselling is essential for both the recipient and donor, and covers the implications of being a donor or having children conceived in this way.
How donor sperm is used depends on the quality and quantity of the banked sperm, the age of the woman, and the presence of any other fertility factors. The simplest approach is intra-uterine insemination (IUI) without ovarian stimulation, with insemination timed by blood tests. Adding mild ovarian stimulation increases the chance of pregnancy especially in older women.
If sperm quality is lower, or the amount of sperm available is limited, or IUI has not worked, then the donor sperm can be used with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) or even intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).
For younger women, the chance of pregnancy from simple IUI with donor sperm is about 20% per month, similar to that of fertile couples.
If you are considering becoming a sperm donor, we have further information available on our website here.
For more details on receiving donated sperm, check out the dedicated section in our online Pathway magazine here.
Donor eggs are used for two broad scenarios, lack of eggs or poor quality eggs.
Lack of eggs can be due to early menopause, sometimes known as premature ovarian failure (POF). Some women have no response to ovarian stimulation for IVF treatment which will therefore be unsuccessful. Many women who do not respond to IVF drugs will be peri-menopausal and enter the menopause within the next five years or so.
Poor quality eggs may be the problem either because of a woman’s age. Poor quality eggs may be indicated if a woman has not become pregnant after several IVF cycles.
The process of egg donation involves the following stages:
- The donors are screened for their family medical history and for diseases
- The donor undergoes the steps of IVF stimulation up to and including egg collection.
- The eggs are then donated to the recipient couple and fertilised with the recipient partner’s sperm.
- The recipient woman also receives hormonal drugs to synchronise her ’cycle’ so that her uterus is at the right stage to receive the transferred embryo.
- Again counselling is essential, as the donor also has to be prepared for the small medical risk that may be involved.
In New Zealand about half of all donor egg cycles involve a close friend or family member as the egg donor. Pregnancy rates are similar to that of conventional IVF, but depend on the donor’s age rather than the age of the recipient.
If you are considering becoming an egg donor, we have further information available on our website here.
For more details on receiving donated eggs, check out the dedicated section in our online Pathway magazine here.
Couples who have completed their family but still have frozen embryos remaining have the option of donating those embryos to another couple or woman.
This treatment is technically simple; the recipient woman’s menstrual cycle is monitored with daily blood tests and an embryo is thawed and transferred at the right time.
Complexity arises because the recipient’s child, if there is a pregnancy, will be a full sibling of the donors’ children. Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART) requires separate and joint counselling for those involved, and a police check of the recipients as in adoption.
If you are considering becoming an embryo donor, please call your nearest clinic and book an appointment to discuss the process with a specialist fertility counsellor.
For more details on the process of embryo donation, check out the dedicated section in our online Pathway magazine here.