Infertility Awareness: Understanding the Need for Third-Party Reproduction

Many individuals and couples begin their fertility journeys seeking treatment that will allow them the chance to carry a biologically related child. However, there are various causes of infertility that can make doing so difficult. When this is the case, patients are often introduced to third-party reproduction options such as surrogacy, egg donation, and sperm donation, in which someone other than the intended parents helps bring a child into the world.

As this week is National Infertility Awareness Week {NIAW}, we believe it is important to take the time to understand these options and explore why and how third-party reproduction can meet various fertility needs.


When a woman and her partner are found to have healthy gametes (eggs and sperm), yet are still unable to achieve pregnancy, there may instead be an issue with her uterus. Various conditions such as endometriosis or recurring fibroids, for example, can prevent an embryo from properly attaching to the uterus.

With surrogacy, intended parents in these circumstances can choose another woman to carry their child on their behalf. In gestational surrogacy, the embryo is typically created via in vitro fertilization (IVF) using the sperm and eggs of the intended parents and then implanted in the surrogate’s uterus. The resulting child will be completely related to the intended parents and will not share any DNA with the surrogate.

Egg Donation

Unsuccessful pregnancies can sometimes be caused by poor egg quality. When egg quality is compromised, a successful embryo cannot be formed within the body or through IVF.

However, intended mothers can still experience pregnancy with the help of an egg donor. With egg donation, an egg from another woman is fertilized with a partner’s or donor’s sperm, and then implanted into the uterus of the intended mother. Egg donation offers a path to pregnancy for women who suffer from conditions such as premature ovarian failure, endometriosis, and natural aging. It can also be an option for women who have gone through cancer treatments.

Sperm Donation

While not as commonly discussed, male-factor infertility is often a hurdle for many couples trying to conceive. Male factor infertility usually involves poor sperm quality, decreased motility, and/or low sperm count, all of which can be helped using treatments such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

However, some men, such as those who have undergone cancer treatment or have conditions that negatively impact their reproductive system, may have no viable sperm at all. When this is the case, a sperm donor can make it possible for a man and his female partner to welcome a child into their lives.

The Importance of Third-Party Reproduction

Due to the potential lack of a genetic link to one’s child, deciding to use third-party reproduction may cause conflicting feelings for some. While going this route is a bit unconventional, third-party reproduction is no less a legitimate path to parenthood. Options such as surrogacy, egg donation, and sperm donation give more people a chance to experience the joy of creating a life.