City Fertility Centre operates an Embryo Donor Program to give women who do not produce eggs, or cannot use the eggs they produce, the opportunity to experience a pregnancy and to bear a child.
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 nurse coordinators are available to discuss any questions you may have about our Embryo Donor Program.
The use of donated embryos may be considered in cases of untreatable infertility that involves both partners, untreatable infertility in a single woman, recurrent pregnancy loss thought to be related to the embryo, and genetic disorders affecting one or both of the partners.
Individuals of all ethnic, cultural and religious backgrounds can become embryo donors. This includes individuals of all different heights, shapes and sizes, as long as they meet these prerequisites:
There are two main types of embryo donation:
This is where the donor and recipient personally know each other and there is an existing relationship between them.
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.
You and your partner will be asked to attend an initial medical consultation with one of our specialists. At this visit, your medical details will be checked and any necessary tests (e.g. blood tests) arranged.
These tests are required as part of the routine screening process necessary before treatment. You (and your partner) will need to have the blood tests completed and the results will be forwarded to your specialist.
Before starting treatment, you will also need to attend a nurse interview. The nurse co-ordinator will inform you of cycle treatment, medications and their side effects, and discuss the day-to-day requirements. Consent forms are provided for you (and your partner) to fill in and sign.
It is mandatory for women who are considering using donated embryos to attend a counselling session with their partners. Counselling provides the opportunity to discuss treatment on a more personal level. It allows couples to raise issues that are more private, such as individual concerns, relationship difficulties, or current life situations that may affect the couple’s experience of treatment.
A “cooling off” period for a minimum of 14 days (between the first and the second counselling session) is required before any treatment may begin, to ensure that you have been given adequate time to consider all aspects of the donation program.
Before the treatment can start, the specialist and nurse co-ordinators will do a final review of the counselling reports, blood tests and consent forms to ensure everything is ready.
A healthy lifestyle is recommended before and during donation of embryos. This includes a sensible approach to diet, exercise and alcohol. Eat a healthy, balanced diet with adequate protein, carbohydrates and fibre. You will be advised to stop smoking and restrict your alcohol consumption before treatment.
*The order of these steps/requirements may vary depending on your circumstances.
It is compulsory that the donated embryos remain stored for a quarantine period of six 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 (AIDS), hepatitis B or hepatitis C.
Women who do not have ovaries, or have ovaries that do not produce eggs, will require hormone treatment to prepare the womb (uterus) for a pregnancy. The endometrium (lining of the womb) needs to be prepared before a fertilised egg or embryo will implant in the womb 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.
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.
Women 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.
Embryos may be transferred to the uterus at different stages of development and are transferred from the culture dish into the uterus (womb).
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.
You will be able to go home very soon after transfer and spend the rest of the day relaxing. The following day, we suggest you resume your normal lifestyle. However, you should avoid strenuous physical activities and anything that may make you overheated, such as saunas, hot spas and sunbaking. You should also refrain from smoking and having alcoholic drinks during this period, until pregnancy is not confirmed.
A pregnancy test is performed 14-16 days after embryo transfer. You will then be given specific instructions by the nurse co-ordinator.
Here are some questions you may wish to consider before committing yourself to treatment:
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.