When you seek treatment at Wilcox Fertility, we aim to make every option and possibility available to you. There are many paths to parenthood and Dr. Wilcox and your clinical team will help walk you through every option. We work towards one goal: Helping you expand your family.
In some cases, one or both of the partners may not have the ability to contribute to a genetically related child. At Wilcox Fertility, we offer many treatment options tailored uniquely to your own personal journey.
What is Third Party Parenting?
Third party parenting, also referred to as “third party reproduction”, is when the use of a donor or gestational carrier contributes donor eggs, sperm, embryos, or their own body, to help build a family for a couple or individual who otherwise cannot on their own. With the option of third party parenting, the intended parent(s) also known as “IPs”, may be able to experience pregnancy through the use of an anonymous donor, or it may involve the use of a gestational carrier that will carry the baby to term.
Typically, third party parenting is considered by men and women who:
- The partner has a genetic condition that you do not want to pass on to your children
- The female partner is of advanced maternal age (typically over the age of 43 years old)
- The female partner has been diagnosed with a uterine defect or otherwise medical issue that impacts the uterus
- The female partner has gone into premature menopause
- When male factor infertility is present
- The female partner had to have her ovaries removed due to a medical issue
- Same-sex couples who may be in need of donor eggs, sperm, or a gestational carrier to pursue a family
Here are some of the third party parenting options we offer:
Egg donation is usually considered when the woman is of advanced maternal age (typically over the age of 43) or has been diagnosed with other underlying medical issues that impact her overall egg health and egg production, but otherwise functioning uterus. With this option, the woman can still carry a baby and experience pregnancy. Single women who decide to parent without a partner can also pursue egg donation if they have poor egg health or are of an advanced maternal age. In this case, they would also need donor sperm in addition to a donor egg. Gestational surrogacy may be another reason why there is a need for an egg donor. Since some states ban traditional surrogacy, where the surrogate has a biological tie to the baby, egg donation, or the use of the intended mother’s egg, is more commonly used.
Whatever the case, the donor eggs would be fertilized with the sperm from a spouse, partner or donor and ideally, become embryos. One or two embryos (based on Dr. Wilcox’s recommendation) will then be transferred to the intended mother or gestational carrier.
In an egg donation cycle, the intended female parent would receive an egg that is donated by another person who has been screened to be healthy, young and fertile. Some intended parents use an egg donor who is known to them, such as a relative or a willing close family friend whereas others may feel more comfortable using an anonymous donor. There are egg donor matching programs, frozen egg banks with a diverse selection you can choose from or you can be matched with a specific egg donor through an egg donor agency, which is typically called a “fresh donor”.
Sperm donation (DI) is a third party parenting option where a man will donate his sperm to help another woman or the intended parent(s) conceive. A sperm donor is commonly anonymous, but it can also be a relative or friend to the intended parent(s) also referred to as a “known” sperm donor. There are sperm donor matching programs and frozen sperm banks with a diverse selection that you can choose from or you can be matched with a specific sperm donor through a donor agency.
Sperm donation is often considered when the intended male partner is experiencing male factor medical issues that are impacting his ability to conceive. This would include cases of no sperm, low sperm count, abnormal sperm, or poor motility, oligospermia, azoospermia, and genetic conditions that they may not want passed down to their future children. Other reasons where donor sperm is considered, would be for same-sex female couples or single female patients who are trying to build a family.
In a sperm donor cycle, a treatment method called Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) is often used. This is when the donor sperm is either thawed, if used from a sperm bank, or if the donor is known, then it is obtained, washed and concentrated down to maximize the chances of conception. The highest-quality sperm is then taken and directly inserted through a thin catheter into the intended mother’s uterus as close to her ovulation cycle in the hopes that the sperm will fertilize an egg.
Dr. Wilcox will most likely recommend IUI with the use of fertility medications. This will be reviewed and decided upon based on your particular diagnosis, history and what you and the doctor feel is the best way forward.
Among the many third party parenting choices, embryo donation is a beautiful option that Dr. Wilcox has available to his patients. Donated embryos are a result of another couple giving their unused frozen embryos from a previous in vitro fertilization treatment (IVF) to intended parent(s) to help them build a family. In most cases, this is done anonymously.
Commonly in an in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle, there may be unused embryos that remain frozen. If the couple decides that they have completed their family building pursuits, then they will need to decide on what they would like to do with the embryos that remain. One option they can consider is to donate them to another patient or couple.
Embryo donation offers hope to couples who have had multiple failed IVF cycles, same sex couples, women of advanced maternal age, medical issues that impact a women’s eggs or the man’s sperm, and couples who may both have genetic conditions that they do not want to pass on to their future child. This option also allows the intended parent(s) to carry their own pregnancy, which is something that may be important to the patient.
A donor embryo transfer process is very similar to that of a frozen IVF cycle, the difference is the intended parent(s) are not biologically related to the embryo. You can read more about IVF and the treatment process by visiting our “In Vitro Fertilization” page. Although, just like sperm and egg donation, in the case of successful pregnancy, parentage is considered of the intended mother or birth mother, not of the donor.
This is a growing option for many couples both who want to donate and for those who decide they want to receive a donated embryo. According to SART, each year, well over 1000+ donated embryos are transferred to the intended parent(s).
Surrogacy is another beautiful, life giving option to consider when weighing your family building options. A gestational carrier is either someone you may know, referred to as a “known surrogate” or is someone you have entered into a contractual agreement. A gestational carrier is a woman who carries the embryo or donor embryo to term and gives birth to your baby. There are two types of surrogacy, traditional where the surrogate contributes her own egg which makes her genetically tied to the baby, or in most cases gestational surrogacy, where the gestational carrier will receive a pre-fertilized embryo of the intended parents or an outside donor. Traditional surrogacy is extremely uncommon.
Just like sperm and egg donation, in the case of a successful pregnancy, parentage is most often considered of the intended mother, not of the gestational carrier. Although guidelines that outline the use of surrogacy and the type of agreements that are allowable can vary from state to state. Luckily, California is known to be a surrogacy friendly state.
Dr. Wilcox may recommend surrogacy to patients who have medical issues that impact the uterus, general medical conditions which a pregnancy could impact the overall health of the intended mother or fetus, or for same sex couples.
When using a surrogate, it’s very similar to the IVF process. In this case however, the embryos created would be transferred into the gestational carrier. You can read more about IVF by visiting our “In Vitro Fertilization” Page.
For more information on the numerous fertility treatments and family building options offered at Wilcox Fertility, please continue to review other areas of our site or to inquire about financial information, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our online form or call us at 626.657.9327.