IVF with Donor Eggs and Gestational Surrogacy
IVF New England has an outstanding success rate for gay male couples using IVF with donor eggs and gestational surrogacy.
For gay men, family building through IVF requires the use of an egg donor and a gestational surrogate. These roles may be provided by female relatives or friends, or through women who provide these services through a fee-based agreement facilitated by an agency, IVF New England and/or an attorney.
Egg Donor Categories
Egg donors are healthy women, ideally between the ages of 21 to 32. The following are categories of potential egg donors:
Known Donors: Sisters, other family members, or friends close to the intended parents may donate eggs.
Anonymous Frozen Egg Bank Donors: It is possible to acquire frozen eggs through an egg bank. Medical statistics and physical characteristics of the donors are available in addition to photographs of the donor as a child. This option eliminates the necessity to wait for stimulation and egg retrieval and enables treatment to focus only on the gay intended fathers. MyEggBank at IVF New England provides frozen donor eggs at one third to half the cost of fresh donor eggs obtained through an egg donor agency.
Anonymous Fresh Egg Donors: Until the advent of lower cost and highly effective frozen donor eggs, the only option for intended parents was to utilize Egg Donor Agencies to recruit an anonymous egg donor. This is still an option. These women donate eggs to intended parents whose identity may remain anonymous. Anonymous donors are remunerated for their time, effort, inconvenience, and time lost from work. They are not being paid for "selling" their eggs. IVF New England abides by guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine to assure that the monetary compensation is not coercive or construed as "purchasing" eggs.
All donors complete a questionnaire about known familial genetic diseases which will be traced, as extensively as possible, for at least two generations. There is, of course, a risk that potential donors may fail to reveal an aspect of their genetic history. The potential egg donor (and her partner, if any) will be screened for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, syphilis, gonorrhea and Chlamydia, according to FDA regulations.
All egg donors undergo a process of controlled ovarian stimulation in which hormonal medications are used to stimulate the ovary to induce maturation of multiple eggs. The only technical difference between standard in vitro fertilization (IVF) and IVF with donor eggs is the involvement of two women. The medical procedures are nearly identical.
Preparation for Gestational Surrogates
The uterine lining (endometrium) must be synchronized with the stage of embryo development in order for pregnancy to be possible. When the use of fresh embryos is planned, both the surrogate's cycle and donor's cycle must be synchronized. The donor's cycle may be manipulated with birth control pills and/or Lupron, and then controlled ovarian hyperstimulation will begin, followed by transvaginal oocyte (egg) retrieval. The surrogate's menstrual cycle can also be synchronized with birth control pills, other hormones or Lupron, and then the surrogate is administered estrogen and progesterone to prepare the uterine lining for transfer of the embryos. In rare cases, the synchronization will not be possible and any embryos resulting from the union of the donor's oocyte and intended parents' sperm will be cryopreserved to be transferred in a subsequent cycle, using an estrogen/progesterone preparation cycle.
Choosing a Gestational Surrogate : If a relative or friend is not participating as an egg donor and/or gestational surrogate, male couples will need to engage an agency and/or attorney that screens and facilitates finding gestational surrogates. Consulting an attorney before making a decision is advised.
The assisted reproductive therapy used is in vitro fertilization (IVF). Eggs are retrieved from the egg donor, are fertilized in the laboratory using the father's sperm, and a healthy embryo is transferred to the surrogate's uterus. (Unused embryos can be frozen for later use to attempt additional pregnancies).
Choosing an Egg Donor and Gestational Surrogate
Agencies facilitate arrangements with gestational carriers and egg donors. Legal contracts need to be drafted between intended parents, and gestational carriers. Some agencies offer in-house legal counsel, or an independent attorney specializing in reproductive law and contracts can be selected.
Counseling is not unique to LGBTQ patients. Meeting with one of IVF New England's professional counselors is required for all couples using egg donors and/or gestational surrogates. This is an opportunity to clarify and discuss the emotional aspects of pregnancy, birth and parenting associated with assisted reproductive therapies.