Third Party Reproduction

Third-party reproduction or donor-assisted reproduction is any human reproduction in which DNA or gestation is provided by a third party or donor other than the one or two parents who will raise the resulting child.

Donor Insemination (DI) uses sperm from a donor to help the woman become pregnant. Sperm donors are screened for sexually transmitted diseases and some genetic disorders. In DI, sperm from the donor is placed into the neck of the womb (cervix) at the time when the woman ovulates. DI uses intrauterine insemination with donor sperm. Donor sperm can also be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, is a process in which a woman's eggs (oocytes) are extracted, frozen and stored as a method to preserve reproductive potential in women of reproductive age. These frozen eggs maybe used later by the same woman or donated to other intending families. Egg freezing is an important preservation method for women going through chemotherapy for cancer treatment. In advanced countries, career oriented women have also been known to cryopreserve their eggs so as to be able to start a family at a later date.

Embryo donation is a form of third party reproduction. It is defined as the giving—generally without compensation—of embryos remaining after one couple's in vitro fertilisation to either another person or couple for implantation or to research.

Surrogacy involves using one woman's uterus for the purpose of implanting and carrying an embryo in order to deliver a baby for another person or couple. The woman who will carry the embryo is known as the surrogate. This process entails using in vitro fertilization in order to place the fertilized egg into the surrogate's uterus. There are two primary types of surrogacy. These are traditional and gestational, and each works in a somewhat different fashion.

  • Traditional Surrogacy: When using traditional surrogacy, the surrogate acts as both the egg donor and as the actual surrogate for the embryo, and she is impregnated using a process known as intrauterine insemination, or IUI. In this IUI procedure, the doctor will transfer sperm that is taken from the biological father and will subsequently transfer that sperm into the surrogate's uterus so that fertilization may take place naturally. Therefore, with traditional surrogacy, the surrogate is also the biological mother of the child. This type of surrogacy is typically only used if the biological mother's egg and/or the biological father's sperm are unable to be used.
  • Gestational Surrogacy: With gestational surrogacy, the surrogate's eggs are not used at all. Therefore, the child will not be related to the surrogate biologically. Using the gestational type of surrogacy, the embryo is actually created by using both the biological father's sperm and the biological mother's egg through a process called in vitro fertilization. It is not until after the biological mother's egg is fertilized that the embryo is transferred to the uterus of the surrogate using the process of in vitro fertilization.

    In most cases, it will take between three and five days for the embryos to develop in the laboratory prior to transferring them to the surrogate. Then, once the embryo has successfully been placed into the surrogate's uterus, the surrogate will carry the embryo through the pregnancy term until its birth. The rate of success when using in vitro fertilization will depend upon several factors such as the age and health of the biological mother who is providing the eggs. Interestingly, however, in many cases, the rates of pregnancy are actually higher when using eggs that are taken from biological mothers who are otherwise infertile versus when eggs are taken from fertile women.