They are also available for
same-sex couples and single people.
In some cases, a donor egg or sperm
may be required for the conception process. This is often the case for lesbian
women couples requiring a sperm donation and gay male couples who need a
donated egg for surrogacy.
Donor conception can also be called upon when a male
has a significantly low sperm count or there are irregularities or damage with
the female’s ovulation.
donor conception right for me?
Infertility is a big issue that
affects 1 in 6 Australian couples.
It can cause a lot of emotional stress and
After years of fertility tests and treatments, couples or women can feel
a sense of loss that they are unable to conceive.
It can be hard to wrap your head
around the idea of using someone else’s genetic material to create a child.
This is the dilemma that donor conception poses to those considering it.
are also many things to consider about if you will tell the child they were
donor conceived or not mention it.
For couples, communication is highly
important when deciding if donor conception is right.
For single women, having
a close confidante such as a friend or family member, or seeking counselling,
is important in the process.
Donor conception is not something that should be
rushed into, rather it needs a lot of mental processing and emotional
understanding before choosing this avenue.
to choose a donor?
For some people, they choose a donor
who is a friend or family member.There are exceptions to this, such as someone
who is a direct relative.
Donors over the age of 50 are discouraged as their
egg or sperm may not be of high enough quality. It is also important for
thorough medical checks to take place in case of poor medical history.
There is also a process called
These are donors who voluntarily donate their egg and
sperm to a bank. Their identify remains anonymous although in some cases it can
be revealed once the child reaches 18 years of age.
Couples using a donor go onto a
Once they are at the top of the waiting list, they have access to
a database with the currently available donors.
Most couples choose a donor who
has a physical description similar to their own so that their child doesn’t
feel exclusively different growing up.
Upon selecting a donor, you are able
to access some important information such as:
Physical appearance such
as height and weight
Number of past children
(if any) and their gender
A goodwill message to
their potential child (in some cases)
about sperm donation
Sperm donations are needed to
provide single women, lesbian couples, or heterosexual couples with the chance
For heterosexual couples, sperm donation is necessary if the male
of the couple has a low sperm count or carries a risk of a genetic disease.
Often male infertility can be rectified using ICSI and other technologies, so
sperm donation is given priority to other instances.
For health reasons, donor sperm is
not available to women past their natural menopause age. It can be used by
women over 45 who are part of a donor egg process.
In Australia, sperm donors need to
be aged between 18-45 and have permanent residency for follow ups.
important that donors are genetically healthy and free from hereditary
diseases. Men who test positive to HIV, Hepatitis B or C, and HTLV 1 and 2
If the sperm donor is married or in a de facto relationship,
their partner must consent.
about egg donation
Donor eggs are often needed for
women who are unable to use their own eggs.
This can happen as a result of
early onset menopause, a risk of passing on a genetic disease, if the ovaries
have been adversely affected by chemotherapy or other treatments, and if IVF
cycles have failed due to poor egg quality.
Donor eggs are also used by male
same-sex couples if they choose the surrogacy process to start a family.
Egg donors are ideally healthy women
aged between 23-33. Donors must be prepared to discuss their medical and
genetic history as well as their physical features and lifestyle.
to pass a blood test and medical screening before proceeding.
on embryo donation
Another lesser known source of donor
conception is embryo donation.
Often people who have gone through IVF or other
assisted reproductive technologies freeze their embryos. Once they have a
successful family, they donate their embryos to other couples struggling to
Some people choose to donate their
embryos from an ethical standpoint as it can be perceived to be better to
donate them rather than dispose of them.
It can also be driven by a sense of
compassion to help other couples going through difficulties conceiving.
Embryo donation can be arranged
through personal connections or via organisations such as IVF Australia who
have an embryo donor database. They can facilitate this on a confidential level
as preferred by the clients.
Although the medical process of
embryo donation is relatively simple, there are some emotional issues to
consider. There is counselling available to both donors and recipients of
embryo donation to guide through this process.
impact does donor conception have on the child?
One of the biggest questions that
come into play with donor conception is the emotional implications for the
In some situations, the child may grow up feeling a loss of identity,
not know who their ‘biological’ mother or father is.
This isn’t the case for
each instance of donor conception.
However, if a child does want to
know the biological heritage, laws are changing regarding the anonymity.
Victoria and New South Wales, laws have changed to make donor identity readily
available once the child turns 18 years old.
It is a private matter of the
family if this information is accessed!
There are many reasons that support
telling a child they were donor conceived.
For instance, there is a risk they
may find out from another source, such as a family member, and lose trust in
It can also be advantageous to know
the donor in a case of medical issues and potential genetic diseases.
also a smaller risk that as an adult, the donor conceived child could start a
sexual relationship with the donor.
Often parents feel it isn’t
necessary to explain the donor conception process once their child is born and
happy and healthy.
However, children are instinctively curious and naturally
ask questions about where they came from.
As they grow up, with increased
access to the internet and technology, there is a likely chance they will find
out. Each circumstance is different, but open communication and sensitivity
surrounding this often leads to the best outcome for all.
There are many help and support
networks across Australia for both parents, couples, and singles going through
donor conception. These networks also exist for children of donor conceived
does the donor conception process start?
When fertility issues are realised
by heterosexual couples or a same-sex couple or single woman embarks on a
journey to conception, many options are discussed and presented.
There are many
fertility clinics and doctors around Australia who can help guide people
through the process.
To see a fertility specialist, a
referral from a gynaecologist or general practitioner is often required.
a range of fertility tests and assessments, the patient and the doctor may
conclude to that donor conception is the best route.
Eligible couples will usually be
referred to IVF or ICSI cycles before choosing donor conception. Throughout
each step of the process, guidance and advice is given in terms of finances and
emotional burdens by the fertility specialist.
There are also fertility counsellors
available at many clinics or by referral for additional emotional support!
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