Egg donation is the process by which a woman donates eggs to enable another woman to conceive as part of an assisted reproduction treatment or for biomedical research. For assisted reproduction purposes, when a woman (the recipient) cannot use her own eggs, egg donation typically involves In-Vitro Fertilisation technology, with the eggs being fertilised in the laboratory to create embryos using her partner’s sperm . These embryos are frozen to be transferred into the uterus of the recipient at any point in time. Sometimes, unfertilised eggs may be frozen and stored for later use. This facilitates that a woman, who is not ready to have a child at a certain point in her life, is able to “freeze time” by freezing eggs at a younger age to be used at an older age – when they may be less available in terms of number and quality. Young cancer patients receiving chemo-radiotherapy and women who choose to delay child bearing for personal reasons usually benefit from this option.

Sperm donation is the provision (or “donation”) by a man (known as a sperm donor) of his sperm (known as donor sperm). Donor sperm can be used when a man’s sperm is inadequate (in quality or number) or absent. It can also be used when a woman without a male partner chooses to have a child.

Sperm donation enables a man to father a child for third-party women, and is therefore, categorised as a form of third party reproduction. Pregnancies are usually achieved by using donor sperm in assisted reproductive technology (ART) techniques which include artificial insemination (either by Intra-Cervical Insemination which is described but hardly ever done (ICI) or Intra-Uterine Insemination (IUI). Donor sperm may also be used in In-Vitro Fertilisation (IVF). The primary recipients of donor sperm are single women, lesbian couples and heterosexual couples suffering from male infertility.

Donor sperm and ‘fertility treatments’ using donor sperm may be obtained at a sperm bank or fertility clinic. Sperm banks or clinics may be subject to state or professional regulations, including restrictions on donor anonymity and the number of offspring that may be produced using a particular donor’s sperm. There are also other legal protections of the rights and responsibilities of both recipient and donor. Some sperm banks, either by choice or regulation, limit the amount of information available to potential recipients; a desire to obtain more information on donors is one reason why recipients may choose to use a known donor or private donation. However, when conception is achieved, the nature and course of the pregnancy will be the same as one achieved by sexual intercourse, and the male donor will be the biological father of any child born from his donations.