Sperm & egg cell donation

Unfortunately, in the case of some couples the wish for a child of their own cannot be fulfilled. There is a variety of causes for this, both male and female:

  • both ovaries were removed (e.g. because of malignant diseases)
  • the function of the ovaries / the ovarian reserve is already exhausted due to age
  • no development of sperm cells in the testicles (e.g. because of malignant diseases, inherited diseases or chemotherapy

In these cases an egg or sperm cell donation can be helpful. Naturally, it takes time for a couple to accept this type of treatment as it is painful to let go of the idea of having one’s ‘own’ (in a genetic way) child.

IVF with donor sperm

In cases of complete male infertility a pregnancy can only be induced by the use of donor sperm. The treatment with donor sperm is also indicative if, despite existing fertility, the risk of transmitting a genetic disease is too high or a complicated operative testicular biopsy (TESE) is refused.  Furthermore, this treatment can be used utilized for lesbian couples.

Additionally, if the female partner suffers from fallopian tube problems or obstructions it can be necessary to undergo an IVF treatment with donor sperm.

When is an IVF with donor sperm recommended?

We recommend a treatment using donor sperm in the following cases:

  • the spermiogram of the male partner is very limited or no sperm production can be detected
  • previous attempts with ICSI had to be cancelled due to fertilization failure
  • the female partner suffers from an obstruction of the fallopian tubes, PCO syndrome or endometriosis
  • there is a fertility impairment of the recipient in a lesbian partnership

Egg donation

The egg donation is a suitable treatment choice for women suffering from post ovarian failure or those who have a reduced sufficient ovarian reserve. For a treatment in Austria the donor is not allowed be older than 30 years, the recipient cannot be older than 45 years. The egg cells of the donor will be fertilized with the sperm of the partner and afterwards the embryos will be returned to the recipient during the embryo transfer. The future child has the right to request information on the identity of the donor from the age of 14 years onwards. However, she does not have to pay alimonies or attend her duties as the genetic parent. Additionally, the prohibition of commercialisation states that a donor cannot claim any reimbursements.

In which cases is an egg donation recommended?

Women who possess no oocytes of their own can consider the option of egg cell donation. Originally, egg donation was advised for women with premature menopause (before the age of 40), which applies to 1% of the female population. In this case, the production of oocytes declines and, eventually, the ovaries stop functioning.  Previously, mostly only women with diminished egg cell reserves and diminshed ovarian function considered egg cell donation (women over 40 years of age).

Further indicators for egg donation are:

  • women who have undergone several failed IVF attempts
  • especially with poor egg cell quality and
  • women who carry an inheritable genetic disease that may seriously affect their child (this can be determined by pre-implantation diagnosis)
  • previous chemotherapy, ovarian surgery, and the absence of ovaries are other conditions which can make egg cell donation necessary.

Tests for the recipient & donor

Tests for the recipient

Women who are planning a treatment using donor eggs should undergo a thorough physical examination, including a complete medical history check and physical and gynaecological exam to ensure that their health will not be detrimentally affected by pregnancy. Any issues that could affect the success of the IVF treatment using donor cells should be cleared up, if necessary medically (ie. factors which could negatively influence fertilization, implantation, or pregnancy). A sperm analysis should be performed to rule out any factors stemming from the male.

Tests for the donor

A detailed evaluation and examination of each donor is very important. The examination serves to protect all involved (donor, donor recipient and child). The donor must generally be younger than 35, existing egg cell reserves must be tested and confirmed as normal, and reduced fertility must be ruled out. The donor is also tested for transmittable diseases (HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia) and genetic disorders.

Treatment procedure for the donor & recipient

Treatment procedure for the recipient

To begin, an extensive conversation is planned which determines whether egg cell donation is the appropriate method for the potential recipient. If the patient is suited for donation she will have her cycle regulated with the aid of hormones and optimized for the transfer. For this purpose, the patient will receive estrogen and progesterone.

During the stimulation procedure of the donor the menstruation cycle of the recipient must be synchronized to that of the donor. On the day of the procedure to extract the donor eggs a sperm sample will be taken from the male. This sample will be prepared and used for fertilization. In the following days, we will monitor the fertilization rate and the development of the embryos. Two to five days after the puncture procedure we will conduct the embryo transfer. This involves inserting a thin catheter into the uterus through which two or three embryos will be transferred. Ten to twelve days after the transfer we will conduct a blood test to determine if a pregnancy has resulted.

Treatment procedure for the donor

If all the compulsory tests meet the required selection criteria, the donor undergoes an ovarian stimulation procedure which consists of two weeks of hormone injections. Depending on the size of the follicles where the development is monitored by ultrasound, we determine ovulation and perform the puncture procedure with the aid of ultrasound. This procedure is performed under anaesthesia.

Embryo donation

This treatment method is not permitted in Austria. In very rare cases the desire for a child can only be fulfilled through embryo donation. In these instances, an adoption that takes place prior to pregnancy is meant. In most cases, these embryos are those that were created during IVF treatments of other couples. These are the superfluous embryos which were frozen and stored for potential subsequent attempts. Some couples are willing to donate their embryos, usually because their own treatments were successful. With this form of treatment the ovaries do not have to be artificially stimulated through injections. It is sufficient to prepare the endometrium of the mother for the transfer with the use of special pills and suppositories.