Using donor embryos for fertility treatment

City Fertility

City Fertility’s embryo donor program is available to individuals and couples where there is both male and female medical infertility.

Your decision to use donated embryos is extremely important, and for this reason we aim to provide you with as much information as you require. Our fertility nurses are available to discuss any questions you may have about our Embryo Donor Program.


Who requires donor embryos?

The use of donated embryos may be considered in cases of untreatable infertility that involves both partners, untreatable infertility in a single donor embryo recipient, recurrent pregnancy loss thought to be related to the embryo, and genetic disorders affecting one or both of the partners.


Who can be an embryo donor?

Individuals and couples of all ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds can become embryo donors. This includes individuals and couples of all different heights, shapes and sizes, as long as they meet these prerequisites:

  • The embryo donor must be 18-35 (18-35 in Victoria)  and the sperm donor must be  18-45 (18-45 in Victoria) (ages at the time the embryos were created).
  •  Donors must be in good health, with no history of hereditary disease. Donors will not be accepted if they suffer from an illness, disease or genetic condition that poses an unacceptable risk of being passed on to any child conceived from the donation.
  • The individual/couple must have completed their family before the donation.
  • If the individual/couple has a child, it is recommended she/he must reach 12 months of age before the donation is made.
  • The embryos must be less than 10 years old and stored at an IVF unit.
  • Clinic recruited donors must have a permanent address and be contactable for follow-up screening. They must be able to provide three identifiers and proof of a permanent address, e.g. driver’s licence, photo ID and passport.

For more information about our Embryo Donor Program, please contact us or visit our Embryo donor page.


Types of embryo donors

There are two main types of embryo donation:

Known donation

This is where the donor and recipient personally know each other and there is an existing relationship between them.


Clinic-recruited donation

In the case of a clinic-recruited donation, the recipient does not know the donor, and the donor’s identity may remain unknown to the recipient. However, a donor must agree to release identifying information (name, date of birth, address) to a donor-conceived child once the child turns 18 or younger with counsellor approval.


What is required to become an embryo donor recipient?

*The order of these steps/requirements may vary depending on your circumstances.


Quarantine period for donated embryos

It is compulsory that the donated embryos remain stored for a quarantine period of three months before they are transferred. At the end of the quarantine period, embryo donors are rechecked that they do not have one of the following transmissible viruses: HIV, Hepatitis B and C, Syphilis, HTLV 1+2 and CMV

Pre-treatment for the embryo recipient

Embryo recipients who do not have normal ovarian cycles

Embryo Recipients who do not have ovaries, or have ovaries that do not produce eggs, will require hormone treatment to prepare theuterus for a pregnancy. The endometrium (lining of the uterus ) needs to be prepared before a fertilised embryo will implant in the uterus and a pregnancy occurs.

The two female hormones estrogen and progesterone act on the endometrium to prepare it for implantation. If you take these two hormones in the correct amounts and in the correct order, it is possible to mimic what happens in a normal cycle and the endometrium will become prepared even though you do not have functioning ovaries.

You will be given instructions from your specialist as to when to start taking the medications, the dosage and when to increase it. You will also be instructed on when to make an appointment for an ultrasound scan to measure the thickness or your endometrium.


Embryo recipients with normal ovarian cycles

Monitoring starts two or three days before we estimate you would normally ovulate. This can be done by daily blood tests to measure estrogen, luteinising hormone (LH) and progesterone until one day after ovulation, or by ultrasound scan to measure the size of the follicle and thickness of the endometrium.

Embryo recipients with apparently normal ovarian function may be advised to have a hormone treatment cycle (as described above) instead of their natural cycles.

It is important for you to be aware that treatment will vary from person to person, and it can be misleading to compare yours with what others experience.

Embryo Transfer (ET)

Embryo may be transferred to the uterus at different stages of the embryo development and is transferred from the culture dish into the uterus.

Embryo transfer is a simple procedure and no general anaesthetic is required. However, you may find it helpful for your partner to be present for this procedure, to support you and to be part of the experience. The transfer itself is similar to a Pap smear and the same instrument (speculum) is used to open the vagina. A fine tube containing the embryos is passed through the cervix and into the uterus.

After embryo transfer

You will be able to go home shortly after the embryo transfer. You will be encouraged to limit strenuous activity for 24 hours. Your activity can be gradually increased over the next following days, provided it is non-strenuous and non-aerobic. You should avoid becoming overheated with saunas, hot spas and sunbaking. You will also be required to refrain from smoking and drinking alcohol during this period where pregnancy is not confirmed.

The fertility nurse will give you specific instructions after the transfer. A pregnancy test is performed 14-16 days after embryo transfer.

Questions for consideration

Here are some questions you may wish to consider before committing yourself to treatment:

  • If you are in a relationship, what are your feelings about creating a family where both partners will not be genetically related to the child?
  • How do you feel about parenting a child with whom you have no genetic link (if both donors, egg and sperm, are used)?
  • What are your feelings about being a single parent if you are undergoing treatment on your own?
  • If you are in a relationship, do both partners agree to use donated embryo?
  • How do you feel about the loss of fertility – has there been enough time to go through the grieving process?
  • What if the treatment outcome is unsuccessful – what impact will it have on you (and your partner if applicable)?
  • What about the possible offspring – do they have the right to know? What if they wish to contact the donor?
  • Who needs to know about this (family, friends, work, etc.)?

Legal implications

City Fertility encourages all individuals/couples to seek independent legal advice before attending the donor program. Please visit our Legalities and requirements page for more information.




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