I’m a single woman in my 40s. I have always wanted to have children, but I never found the right partner. Now I’m too old to donate my own eggs, and I still don’t have a partner to be the father. I want to try surrogacy to have a baby, but is it possible to use both an egg and sperm donor?
— Maryann


Hello Maryann.

Generally, women have greater fertility options than single men simply because they can often carry their own pregnancy — and sperm donors are cheap. (Sorry guys — but it’s true.)

• Egg donors can be hired through an agency or through a clinic. Egg donors will cost from $14,000 to $18,000 in the United States, and $3000 to $6000 in most destinations overseas (Kiev for example). The donor agency often will have an online catalog that the Parents can review — but that’s not a very good place to start. Donor catalogs are notoriously difficult to manage — so the donors shown may have been added years before and you have no idea if their information is current or even if they are sill interested in donating.

The better process is that the Parents complete a questionnaire with their requirements and ask the agency to send a short list of donors that meet the requirements. Using the questionnaire saves time becasue the agency will only send profiles of qualified donors who are available to travel during your preferred schedule.

• Sperm donors are usually hired through a sperm bank — and the Parents buy a sample after reviewing a profile of the donor. Sperm samples are sent from the Sperm Bank to the clinic. Cost is usually about $3000 USD.

However, it is not often possible to have surrogacy overseas by using both egg and sperm donor. Ukraine does not give Ukrainian citizenship to babies born in the country. So the parents need to apply for citizenship at their local Consulate. To get citizenship, the baby needs to be genetically related to one of the Parents (so one of the parents must donate either eggs or sperm).

2. If the sperm donor has low quality sperm, the simplest solution is to improve his sperm quality with some simple changes in his lifestyle. Here is an article in the Guide about improving sperm quality. It takes about 3 months for new sperm to replace the current sperm, so any changes will not appear in a sperm sample for 3 months.

A small improvement in sperm count or morphology may be all that’s needed. Because the clinic uses only ICSI procedure to fertilize, only a very small number of healthy sperm cells are needed for IVF. ICSI is the process where individual sperm cells are injected directly into the egg to fertilize. With this technique it’s no longer necessary to collect a lot of sperm for an IVF procedure — just a few will suffice. So parents with low sperm count may be able to have IVF using this technique that were not able before.

If the sperm count is very low (or zero), it may be a block that does not allow the sperm to reach the ejaculate. In this case the sperm can be retrieved directly from the tests by a few different techniques. The most widely used is TESA or TESE. In this procedure fluid is pulled directly from the testes and then individual sperm cells are retrieved.

In more difficult cases there are also surgical techniques, including MESA or PESA that retrieve sperm cells from other parts of the man’s reproductive system. The exact technique depends on the situation and would need to be discussed with the clinic.

3. The situation is more complex for a woman who is not able to donate eggs… If she is not able to donate because of a hysterectomy, then her eggs can often be retrieved directly from the ovaries. However if the quality of the eggs are simply low (or she is not producing many eggs because of her age or natural conditions) then the best option is to find a suitable egg donor.

Many of these questions are available in the Surrogacy Guide, available on the English website. You can let potential Parents know that we are in the process of translating the entire Guide into Spanish, and will be adding translated articles to SinCiguena.com every month throughout the year.

I hope this helps. Let me know what we can do to help you sign these clients. We are all here to help you (and the Parents).


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