I don’t know anyone who’s done embryo donation.  What do I need to know?

May 16, 2023

Does embryo donation feel like a totally new concept to you? You’re not alone. While this option made up 63% of all embryo transfer cycles in 2020, it is discussed much less frequently than IVF cycles or cycles using donor eggs or donor sperm. 

Yet, donor embryo cycles are becoming a popular choice for many individuals and couples. Why? Because it is often more successful and cost-effective than other assisted reproductive procedures for those who may not be able to get pregnant without support.

Read on to learn the basics of embryo donation and learn if this process might be the next best step for you.

What is Embryo Donation?

Put simply, embryo donation is the legal transfer of unused embryos from a donor to another intended parent. 

The donor is the individual or couple that has unused embryos from a previous IVF cycle and wants to make these available to others who are trying to grow their families.

The intended parent is the recipient individual or couple who has been unsuccessful in their own fertility attempts or who has other obstacles to becoming a parent without support from donors.

During IVF, multiple embryos are created from fertilized eggs and sperm in a medical laboratory. However, not all of these embryos may be needed for the intended parents to achieve a successful pregnancy and complete their family. Embryo donation offers an opportunity for these unused embryos to be donated to individuals or couples who wish to have a child but are struggling to conceive on their own.

After the embryos are legally transferred to the intended parent(s), they can then use them in their own embryo transfer cycle to try for a successful pregnancy. 

Embryo Donation Basics: What You Need to Know

  • Embryo donation is more common than you may think.
    While embryo donation isn’t as popular as other assisted reproductive technology procedures (including donor egg or sperm cycles) it has significantly increased over the past few years. As more people feel comfortable discussing their infertility journey and path to parenthood, you may find that embryo donation is more common than you think!
  • There are many reasons why someone might choose embryo donation.
    The simplest reason is that embryo donation can offer a more effective (and cost-effective) path to parenthood for those who struggle with infertility. In other cases, an intended parent may have a medical reason they do not want to pass their own genetics onto their children. Embryo donation also offers single parents and same-sex parents a way to have a biological child.

    For donors, embryo donation is a way to give life to their unused embryos after their family is complete. Those who choose to have an open relationship with their intended family often feel that this process expands their own children’s family through their genetic siblings. It is also an opportunity to offer support to others who are going through fertility challenges.
  • There is a screening process for embryo donation.
    In many ways, the donation of embryos is the donation of life – and the process is rightfully taken very seriously!

    Before donating, embryos are screened to ensure they have a good chance of being viable. Donors are also required to submit questionnaires, medical history, and lifestyle information so intended parents can find their best match.

    There is also a screening process for intended parents, as well. For instance, it’s important that the intended parent or surrogate candidate is biologically capable of carrying a pregnancy if the transfer is successful.
  • There are legal considerations all parties should consider.
    Transferring ownership of biological property can be complex, as can managing expectations, outcomes, and future relationships between families. Legal support and counseling are important for both donors and intended parents to ensure a future that works for everyone.
  • You don’t have to go it alone.
    Whether you are a donor or an intended parent, the process of embryo donation can feel daunting. But rest easy – there are many support groups to connect you to others who are also on this same journey. As for the actual process of donation, concierge services can make the process as smooth and simple as possible. 

Embryo donation creates hope and an opportunity for parenthood for individuals or couples who may have thought that having a biological child was not possible.Ready to learn more about embryo donation and see if this is the right path for you? Learn more about becoming a donor here or becoming an intended parent here.