Egg Donation vs. Embryo Donation


From time to time we notice that our donors may use the terms “egg donor” and “embryo donor” interchangeably. Egg donation and embryo donation are not the same thing, however.  Here is how the two differ.

Egg Donation

By far the more common type of donation that takes place in surrogacy is egg donation. In this process, women consent to donate an unfertilized egg, with the intention of having that egg later fertilized and ultimately transferred into the uterus of either an intended mother or of a surrogate. It is important to note that the egg is not yet fertilized, and without successful fertilization, will never lead to a successful pregnancy or birth. In this case, the donor is always the person to whom the genetic material originally belonged.


Embryo Donation

In this process, an intended parent (or parents) will attempt to join the donated egg from an egg donor with sperm from either a donor or an intended father with the hopes of creating a viable embryo. This embryo is capable of becoming a fetus, and eventually a live baby, if it is transferred into a uterus and implantation and growth occurs. In some cases more embryos are created than what is needed in order to achieve pregnancy. In these cases, there may be viable embryos that are no longer needed or desired by the intended parents. In these cases, some intended parents may opt to donate these embryos to other intended parents or to scientific research. In the case of embryo donation, the donor is generally the person to whom the genetic material originally belonged. (In some cases an intended mother can act as her own egg donor, and eventually may also act as an embryo donor.)

For our donation program, you will only be involved in egg donor processes. Embryos will be created of your eggs, after they have been retrieved and you have waived all additional legal rights to them.

Dr. Kim Bergman

Kim Bergman, PhD, a licensed psychologist of 26 years, has specialized in the area of gay and lesbian parenting, parenting by choice and third party assisted reproduction for over two decades. Dr. Bergman has created a comprehensive psychological screening, support and monitoring process for Intended Parents, Surrogates and Donors. She is the co-owner of Fertility Counseling Services and Growing Generations and is a member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the American Psychological Association, the Los Angeles County Psychological Association, the Lesbian and Gay Psychotherapy Association, and the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. She is on the national Emeritus board of the Family Equality Council. Dr. Bergman writes, teaches and speaks extensively on parenting by choice. Along with co-authors, she published “Gay Men Who Become Fathers via Surrogacy: The Transition to Parenthood” (Journal of GLBT Family Studies, April 2010). Dr. Bergman’s is the author of the upcoming book, Your Future Family: The Essential Guide to Assisted Reproduction (Conari Press 2019). Dr. Bergman created her own family using third party assisted reproduction and she lives with her wife of 35 years. Her two daughters are in college.