Fertility treatment is a long-drawn process that may include third-party assisted reproduction for some couples. The third party usually assists the patients (the intended parents) by donating viable gametes or by being a gestational carrier, i.e., carrying the embryo for 9 months. Sperm or egg donation could be received from an anonymous donor or from a trusted friend or relative.
Men between the ages of 18 to 40 are usually eligible to donate sperm, but they must undergo semen testing, a physical exam, genetic screening for inherited diseases and a psychological evaluation. The donor donates the semen by masturbating into a sterile cup in a private room at the hospital. The semen is cryopreserved and quarantined for six months. After six months, the donor is tested again for infectious diseases and the donated semen is thawed. Some sperm cells do not hold up well to cryogenic freezing and re-thawing and will be rejected.
Women between the ages of 18 and 32, in good physical and psychological health are eligible to donate their eggs. The donor will undergo a physical exam, a psychological evaluation, genetic screening for hereditary diseases and tests for other infectious diseases to determine if they are healthy enough to donate their eggs. The egg donation process is longer and more involved than sperm donation. The donor will need to synchronise their cycle with the patient, and hence will be put on birth control pills. The donor will also be given follicle-stimulating medication to produce more mature eggs for retrieval and monitored by ultra-sound scans to check their progress. The eggs are harvested once they have matured, using a trans-vaginal ultrasound-guided oocyte aspiration procedure.