How does gamete donation work in Spain?

Published: 16 March 2017|Last updated: 30 November 2020|

Spain has one of the best regulated and open laws on assisted reproduction in all Europe. The European scenario regarding the application of assisted reproduction techniques is very diverse, and is fundamentally determined by the legal framework, or even the absence of regulation in some countries.

Law 14/2006 on Assisted Human Reproduction Techniques allows access to these techniques to all women from the age of 18, regardless of their marital status or sexual orientation. This means that in Spain we can apply the techniques to single or homosexual women wishing to have access to and to exercise their right to motherhood.

In Spain, gamete donation is regulated by Royal Decree 412/1996, Royal Decree Law 9/2014 and Law 14/2006 on Assisted Reproduction.

By law, donation is considered to be voluntary, anonymous and altruistic. The donation contract, in turn, is based on the principles of gratuity, formality and confidentiality. However, compensation to donors for the inconvenience caused is also provided for and envisaged by law.

Egg or semen donation are procedures that have been regulated by Spanish legislation since 1988, which guarantees, at all times the ethics of the medical and biological processes involved, as well as the health of both the donors and the embryos produced from the donations.

Gamete donation is voluntary, altruistic and anonymous.

  • Oocyte donors must be aged between 18 and 35.
  • Semen donors must be aged between 18 and 50.

ALTRUISTIC: The commercialisation of gametes and embryos is prohibited by Spanish law; the eggs or semen sample must be used exclusively to help a woman have the baby she wants. The National Human Assisted Reproduction Committee, a body set up in order to advise in the development of the law, recommends that donors receive an economic compensation for the dedication and time required to complete the donation.

ANONYMOUS: The law specifies that there must be no contact between the donor and the recipient, at present, or in the future. This means that the woman can never meet, see, or choose the people who will give her their gametes. The donors sign a contract where they agree to give their gametes to a woman trying to have a baby and that they will never be involved in the future of the child.

Theoretically, there is no limit to the donations that can be made but the maximum number of children born from one donor is six (including their own children).

Both sperm and oocyte donors are selected using a strict medical evaluation. Before being able to give their eggs, the donor must have various tests done to confirm her correct ovarian function and the absence of infectious diseases and genetic problems:

For eggs donors:

  • Blood analysis: Serology (Hepatitis B and C, HIV and Syphilis, rubella), blood group determination, a Karyotype test to rule out chromosome anomalies, genetic analysis to rule out carriers of cystic fibrosis and electrophoresis of the haemoglobin to rule out hereditary anaemia.
  • Gynaecological examinations: cytology, cervical cultures for Gonococcus and Chlamydia, gynaecological ultrasound.
  • Interviews with the physician to confirm the absence of genetic diseases in their personal or family background, with the psychologist to evaluate the mental health of the donor and, with the nursing team to explain how the treatment will be carried out.

For semen donors:

  • Blood analysis: Serology (Hepatitis B and C, HIV and Syphilis, Chlamydia and Cytomegalovirus), blood group determination, a Karyotype test to rule out chromosome anomalies, and a cystic fibrosis study.Six months after the sample is frozen, the donor must repeat the Serology tests to confirm the negative results and ensure that there was no latent infection present at the time of the donation.
  • Examination of the sample: Seminogram (complete study of the motility, concentration and morphology of the sperm).
  • Interviews with the physician to confirm the absence of genetic diseases in their personal or family background and to evaluate the mental health of the donor.

For egg donors: EUGIN Clinic has its own egg donation programme.

Several visits, prior to the donation cycle: the donor receives detailed information about the donation (purpose, legal aspects, tests to be carried out, ovarian stimulation, side effects, obtaining the eggs, type of anaesthesia to be used).

Stimulation phase: The stimulation is done by means of daily, subcutaneous injections.

The Follicular puncture: The Follicular puncture is carried out under ultrasound control and post-puncture monitoring: After a check-up, if the donor feels well, they are discharged with post-operative instructions to follow. After 12 hours, they are contacted by telephone to confirm that everything is ok and they are offered telephone assistance for the next 24 hours. Later, a check-up appointment is scheduled.

For semen donors:
EUGIN Clinic uses one of Barcelona’s semen banks if they need semen samples from a donor for a specific treatment.

The donors do not undergo any treatment. They just have to refrain from sexual intercourse for 3 to 5 days before the donation.

Egg donation has no negative effects on the donor’s fertility. In general, a healthy woman has about 400,000 eggs in her ovaries from birth (immature forms of future eggs).

Out of those 400,000, only 400 reach maturity and the possibility of being fertilised, a number which corresponds to the quantity of ovulation cycles during the woman’s long fertile period (more or less between the ages of 13-45).

The rest simply do not mature, so the ovarian stimulation performed during the egg donation process is nothing more than a way of taking advantage of some of the eggs that the woman will never use.

At EUGIN Clinic, the donors receive mild stimulation during the treatment, at low doses, to avoid obtaining an excessive number of eggs, prioritising quality over quantity, and trying to diminish the possible and occasional side effects (such as feeling bloated, liquid retention or abdominal pains).

Once the egg retrieval has taken place, the donor will go back to ovulating normally and will be able to have her own child if desired. There are a large number of donors who have participated in the Eudona programme and have become mothers after the donation. Many of them have returned to egg donation after giving birth.

If you are thinking of undergoing assisted reproduction treatment, we will first assess your case on a first visit. In the event of needing a gamete donation, all the processes will be carried out scrupulously in the way we have mentioned. Egg donation and sperm donation in Spain, by law, is deemed to be confidential. Egg or sperm recipients must bear in mind that, in the implementation of the procedures, the choice of donors belongs to the assisted reproduction clinic and will be made respecting as much as possible the phenotypical and immunological characteristics of both the donor and the recipient. The law does not allow the recipient of the gametes to choose the donor.

If you have queries or need to clarify any points, please do not hesitate to ask our experts free of charge.

Related questions: