Embryo Adoption, also known as Embryo Donation, is a technique that is recommended when a woman (or both partners) cannot achieve pregnancy with their own gametes.
In this article, the experts at IVFforYOU will explain what Embryo Adoption consists of, how it is carried out, the difference between Embryo Adoption and Embryo Donation, what the advantages of Embryo Adoption are and, finally, how much it costs in Spain.
What does Embryo Adoption consist of?
In an In Vitro Fertilisation, a patient undergoes ovarian stimulation in order to obtain the highest number of quality eggs for their subsequent fertilisation and implantation in the uterus. In Spain, by law, up to three embryos may be transferred per cycle; of the rest, those of good quality, known as supernumerary embryos, may be vitrified to be given the desired destination, always within the limits of the law.
One of the destinations chosen by couples is the vitrification of embryos in case they wish to become parents again in the future. On the other hand, there is also the possibility of donating the surplus embryos and freezing them so that they can be adopted by other couples and used in Assisted Reproduction treatments.
Embryo Adoption is a very good alternative for those cases in which the woman (or both members of the couple) have difficulties in obtaining a pregnancy with their own oocytes or sperm. Also, in the absence of a male partner or if In Vitro Fertilisation cycles have been previously carried out with the woman’s own eggs without success.
This alternative is also an option for couples who have detected a genetic incompatibility after a previous study and have the possibility of transmitting diseases to their children.
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The step-by-step process of an embryo transfer
In general, the process of this technique is quite short and takes about two weeks from the start of the hormone treatment until the embryo transfer takes place.
The embryo adoption procedure consists mainly of 5 phases:
Preparation of the endometrium
Selection of the embryo
Pregnancy test and follow-up ultrasound scans, in case of pregnancy.
This first stage is the patient’s starting point: the medical history is reviewed; tests are carried out and the reasons for resorting to Assisted Reproduction treatment are evaluated. Here both the patient and her partner, if she has one, will be assessed and guided towards the most appropriate treatment.
In this phase, the patient’s uterus is prepared to receive the embryos. To do this, the team of gynaecologists will prescribe a hormonal treatment that must be carried out when the patient is menstruating.
Hormonal treatment may vary slightly depending on the prescribing clinic: in some cases, it consists of oral oestrogen and progesterone to achieve adequate endometrial thickness to promote implantation. In others, oestrogens may be administered through skin patches and vaginal tablets. The evolution of the endometrium is monitored by means of ultrasound checks.
At IVFforYOU, our team of embryologists is in charge of embryo allocation. To ensure that only those embryos without chromosomal abnormalities and with the best chances of implantation are transferred to the mother’s uterus, we recommend the Preimplantational Genetic Test (PGT) or genetic analysis of the embryos for the study of all their chromosomes. This increases the chances of pregnancy and avoids implantation failures and miscarriages or chromosomal alterations.
When selecting and devitrifying the embryo to be transferred, embryologists take into account the physical characteristics of the patients in general terms (race), as well as other criteria, such as, for example, the morphology of the embryo.
Embryo transfer is usually carried out on the same day as embryo thawing and selection.
Although Spanish law allows a maximum of three embryos to be transferred, at IVFforYOU we transfer a single embryo in 90% of cases. In this way, the risks of multiple pregnancies are reduced, with the subsequent problems that this can cause for both the mother and the babies.
The transfer procedure itself is simple and painless. For this, guided by a small catheter, the gynaecologist will place the embryo into the woman’s uterus through the cervix.
Once 10 to 14 days have passed since the embryo transfer, a pregnancy test can be carried out. At IVFforYOU we carry out a blood test that will allow us to confirm with greater certainty the success of the transfer.
In the event of a positive result, you will be able to monitor your pregnancy at our centre until the first ultrasound scan.
Embryo Adoption Success Rates
While the reproductive health of the mother-to-be is important, in Embryo Adoption, the success rate will depend largely on the quality of the embryo transferred.
In general, the success rates of this Assisted Reproduction technique are between 40 and 50% approximately. At IVFforYOU we are above average, with a success rate of 57% per embryo transfer.
Differences between Embryo Adoption and Embryo Donation
We speak of donation when a couple or a single woman expressly and in writing donates their surplus embryos so that other people can use them in their Assisted Reproduction treatments.
On the other hand, we speak of adoption when the embryos left over from the In Vitro Fertilisation treatment of a woman or couple have remained in the legal custody of the centre because the parents have not chosen any destination for them. These embryos can be used by other people, as is the case with donation.
The treatment itself is the same and the difference is only legal.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Embryo Adoption
– More economical Assisted Reproduction technique than others
– Quick and simple procedure
– No side effects for the recipient woman, as she does not have to undergo ovarian stimulation
What is the price of Embryo Adoption in Spain?
Embryo Adoption is a lower cost technique compared to other assisted reproduction treatments.
In particular, the price of Embryo Adoption can vary depending on the assisted reproduction clinic, as well as what is included in the treatment.
In IVFforYOU the price of embryo adoption is 2.400€ and includes:
– Costs of the In Vitro Fertilisation laboratory where the embryos are cryopreserved.
– De-vitrification of the frozen embryos
– Morphological analysis and selection of the embryos.
– Transfer of the selected embryos
– Outpatient hospitalisation
– Pregnancy test
– Pregnancy monitoring until the first ultrasound scan
Frequently asked questions on Embryo Adoption and Donation
Yes: if after an In Vitro Fertilisation treatment you have surplus embryos, considered to be of good quality by the medical team, you can donate them so that another woman or couple can benefit from them. If you prefer to donate them to research, you can also do so.
This technique is a safe procedure with no possible harm to the patient who receive the embryos.
The transfer itself is a fairly quick, simple and painless procedure (no anaesthesia is required), as the doctor introduces the embryo into the patient’s uterus using a small catheter or cannula through the cervix, guided by ultrasound. Once the transfer has been completed, the patient can rest for a few minutes in the consulting room and then continue with her normal life, trying to avoid physical activities that involve considerable effort.
At the time the embryos are vitrified, the woman must be no older than 35 years old and the man no older than 50 years old. To have a good general state of health, absence of personal and family history of genetic diseases and negative serologies for the main sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
Yes, according to the Spanish Law on Assisted Human Reproduction, embryo donation is completely anonymous and donors sign a consent form stating that they waive their filial rights.
In Spain, anonymous Embryo Donation/Adoption is guaranteed by the Law on Assisted Reproduction.
If you are looking for a fertility clinic in Barcelona to get information about the different Assisted Reproduction treatments, we invite you to write to us. The first consultation with our experts is free of charge!