Donor Banking for Surrogates

telling your kids

From time to time, intended parents will need to do something called a “banking” cycle as you prepare for your upcoming transfer. A banking cycle is when intended parents progress through an egg retrieval with no intention of immediately transferring an embryo into the surrogate’s uterus.

If your intended parents have opted to complete a banking cycle, it is very likely that it has been done prior to your matching and medical cycle, and probably will have no direct impact on your journey. Here are a few scenarios in which intended parents often opt to complete a banking cycle.

  • Donor Timeline- In this instance, a banking cycle is likely completed prior to your matching process. As it can occasionally take some time to find a surrogate match for intended parents, some intended parents will find and match with their egg donors more quickly than with their surrogates. In these cases, the intended parents will often proceed through their egg donation process while we continue to seek for their surrogate match. The result is that once they’re matched with you, they already have embryos frozen and waiting for you.
  • Surrogate Blackout Dates- Conversely, some intended parents take longer to find their egg donor than their surrogate. In rare occasions, an egg donor’s timeline and blackout dates may just not line up with yours for an extended period of time. In these unique cases, it may be beneficial for intended parents to complete a donor banking cycle independent of their surrogacy journey. This allows them to work with a surrogate and an egg donor that they love, even if their busy schedules don’t align.
  • Dual Parentage- Many of our same sex couples come to us with the desire to create embryos with sperm samples of both partners. The ultimate desire would be a twins pregnancy (or a future sibling project) wherein a surrogate carries biological half siblings, connected by the egg donor’s DNA. Occasionally a donor’s cycle will produce a lower than expected number of viable eggs for fertilization. Keeping in mind the fact that from the time of fertilization to the time of transfer, a few embryos will not continue to grow in an optimal way, it make makes sense to consider a banking cycle. In this case, one partner’s sperm will be used to fertilize all of the available eggs, and the most likely to result in a viable pregnancy will be banked for later use. Then, a repeat cycle can be completed with the same egg donor and embryos can be created with the other intended father’s sperm sample.
  • Low Ovarian Reserve- If you are working with an intended mother who wishes to use her own eggs but has a low ovarian reserve, she may wish to complete a banking cycle in advance of your transfer. Many times these patients respond to fertility medicines and produce eggs that could be viable, but it is rare that they produce enough eggs to lead to favorable results. In these cases it is often advised that the intended mother progress through multiple stimulation cycles before progressing to embryo transfer. This allows for the opportunity to create multiple embryos and increase the chances of success.
  • Other Considerations- There are other unique factors that can lead to the choice to complete the egg donor cycle separately from the surrogacy journey. Sometimes intended parents just desire a mental break between the two processes. Do know that if a break is anticipated between the two processes, Growing Generations will not match the intended parents with a surrogate until they are ready to proceed with the surrogacy. You will not be asked to wait to start your journey due to a banking cycle.

The probability of your embryo transfer being successful is the top priority of everyone involved in your journey. Understand that frozen embryo transfers have roughly the same success rates as fresh embryo transfers. If your intended parents have completed, or plan to complete, a banking cycle preceding your transfer it will likely have minimal impact on your overall journey. You can direct additional questions to your case specialist.

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.