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Heterologous fertilisation

Treatment involving the use of gametes (spermatozoa, oocytes or both) provided by a donor from outside the couple.


70% of cases result in births after one cycle of treatment

It is a heterologous fertilisation programme (egg donation and double heterologous fertilisation) that consists of transferring cryopreserved embryos at the blastocyst stage, an advanced technique that provides the greatest probability of achieving a full-term pregnancy.

Our programme guarantees the generation of at least 2 blastocysts.


Heterologous fertilisation is a medically assisted reproduction treatment available to couples with irreversible infertility or sterility problems.

This option became viable again in Italy in 2014, when the Constitutional Court, through sentence 162/2014, declared the ban on heterologous fertilisation imposed by Law 40/2004 to be unconstitutional.

What is heterologous fertilisation?

This treatment involves the use of assisted fertilisation techniques, in which gametes (spermatozoa, oocytes or both) are provided by a donor from outside the couple.
We are talking about:

  • female heterologous fertilisation with egg donation
  • male heterologous fertilisation with sperm donation
  • heterologous fertilisation with egg and sperm donation (double heterologous fertilisation)

Who can access the treatments?

Different-sex couples diagnosed as infertile, who are married or living together, and where the woman is under 50 years of age, may undertake a programme of heterologous fertilisation.

What will that entail?

It is only since 2014 that heterologous fertilisation has become legal again, this has meant that the number of donors in Italy is extremely low, making it necessary to resort to tissue centres abroad. The CMR collaborates with leading European centres in this field to overcome the difficulty of finding reproductive cells (oocytes/spermatozoa) properly cryopreserved according to the most modern and efficient techniques.

Strict Italian and European regulations (Legislative Decree 191/07 and Dir. 17/2006 app 3, European Directives no. 2004/23/EC, 2006/17/EC and 2006/86/EC) establish criteria that guarantee full safety in donor selection and the protection of recipients:

  • genetic and infection tests
  • protection of privacy
  • anonymity of donor/donor and recipients
  • each donor may not generate the birth of more than 10 children, unless a couple wishes to have a second child from the same donor
  • male donors must be between 18 and 40 years old, female donors between 20 and 35 years old

How does the selection of donors take place?

One of the most frequent questions we are asked concerns the similarity between parents and child, for which CMR provides partner centres with all the phenotypic characteristics of the couple (ethnicity, blood group, RH factor, height, weight, skin and eye colour, hair type and colour), always in compliance with the aforementioned safety regulations.

What will the couple have to do?

Both members of the couple will have to undergo tests to verify their suitability for the procedure.

  • In the case of heterologous fertilisation with oocyte donation, the woman must follow a protocol for preparing the uterus to receive the embryo generated by the in-vitro fertilisation, with the partner's semen, of donated oocytes.
  • In the case of sperm donation, the woman must follow a stimulated ovulation protocol followed by intrauterine insemination (heterologous insemination), or a protocol of stimulated multiovulation followed by oocyte aspiration (pick-up) and in vitro fertilisation using the donated sperm.
  • In the case of both oocyte and sperm donation (embryo donation), the woman must follow a protocol for preparing the uterus to receive the embryo generated by the in-vitro fertilisation of both donated oocytes and sperm.

What are the chances of success?

In recent decades, motherhood has been increasingly postponed, especially in Italy, where the number of women who manage to have a child in the 28-35 age range is decreasing.
This is why an increasing number of couples are resorting to heterologous fertilisation techniques, especially egg donation.

Egg donation is today the assisted fertilisation technique with the highest probability of success, between 60% and 70%. This is because by using a young donor (20-35 years old), the main factor of infertility, which is maternal age, can be overcome.

Quality and safety

The CMR, with a view to continuous improvement and in order to guarantee the highest possible quality standards for the specialised healthcare provided, has been applying a quality management system to its healthcare processes since 2011, guaranteed by UNI EN ISO 9001-2015 Certification.

In line with these principles, the clinic has decided to submit the MAR process using donated gametes (heterologous MAR) to the verification of a third-party certification body (CertiqualityMilano) in order to apply the current Italian and European regulations and safety criteria that guarantee the highest possible quality levels for the adopted methods.