Advantages and Disadvantages of Donor Embryo Transfer

If you have been receiving fertility treatment and have managed to get pregnant, then congratulations! You will have a number of options available to you with regards to any surplus embryos you may have from your treatment. You can either keep the extra embryos in storage, donate them for research or for another’s fertility treatment, or ask to have them discarded. The choice is completely up to you, and the couples who do choose to pass their embryos on to others trying to get pregnant tend to do so because having gone through fertility treatments themselves, they understand how trying and difficult it can be and how much their donation can mean to the recipients.

Who makes use of donated embryos?

Same sex couples, single women looking to become women, and infertile couples can all benefit from embryo donations. Infertile couples in particular tend to opt for or look to embryo donors because they have gone through treatment cycles themselves but with no success, or because both parents carry an inherited disease that they are very likely to pass on to their child. In all these cases an embryo donation can be a life changing event.

What are the advantages of making use of donated embryos?

Donor embryos will come from couples where the male partner is under the age of 45, and the female is under the age of 35. As fertility decreases with age, these younger embryos tend to be more viable, and so success rates for donor embryos tend to be higher than traditional IVF.

What are the disadvantages of using donated embryos?

There are a number of controversies surrounding the use of donor embryos, although there are more around simply discarding embryos once fertility treatments have been completed. While these objections are religious or ethical in nature, they don’t affect the legality of embryo transfer in the UK, and have no basis in potential risks or dangers to the baby or couple.

The only real disadvantages come into a play where an unregistered donor is used independently of an HFEA clinic. This is because the stringent screening and testing process which ensures an embryo’s health and viability is not observed, putting both your health and that of your unborn child at risk. The legality around your parenthood is also not as well established or understood by both parties, which can allow for a donor becoming the child’s legal parent. Furthermore the right of a child to access information about the donors once they have reached the age of 18 may not be observed as there will be no information about them on file with the HFEA. 

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