Respecting your beliefs

At Genea, we respect people’s right to hold their own religious and cultural beliefs. In line with this, we’ve taken the care to devise some acceptable assisted conception programs for different faiths and cultural backgrounds - Christianity (including the Brethren), Islam, Judaism (including supervised Kosher treatment cycles), Hinduism and Buddhism and we have Fertility Specialists with experience in treating patients from all of these groups. Of course there may be specifics or variations for your circumstances so if they’re not covered here - the information on this page is by no means an exhaustive list of the treatment possibilities - please call us to discuss your personal situation.

We guarantee that your eggs and your sperm will never be used in a way that you have not explicitly or implicitly consented.

When does life start?

There are many views on the moment that represents the beginning of a new life. Some people believe that it is the instant that the sperm enters the egg, for others it is the moment that the genetic material of the two parents come together (this happens some time after fertilisation and is called syngamy), while others again place it at certain developmental milestones of the embryo or fetus, such as implantation, nervous system development or the ability to experience sensations (sentience) or even at birth.

Because of these differing positions and questions, some people face a moral dilemma when considering fertility treatment and specifically freezing (cryostorage) of embryos after an IVF cycle. Embryos are often cryostored if there are more produced than are necessary for a single embryo transfer. It enables a number of further embryo transfers while stimulating the ovaries with hormones only once.

For many people, this option is very attractive, since it is the ovarian stimulation that is the most complicated part of an IVF cycle. But it does mean that there are often embryos produced that may never be transferred. For some people this is not a morally acceptable situation.

Syngamy

Syngamy literally means married together and is the moment when the genetic material from the egg and the sperm join to become one. It occurs in the fertilised egg about 20 hours after the sperm has entered the egg. A few hours before syngamy, the sperm's chromosomes and the egg's chromosomes are visible as separate spheres (or vacuoles) called pronuclei.

In the time between the sperm entering the egg and syngamy occurring we know:

  • the egg has been successfully fertilised
  • the male and female genetic material have not yet combined
  • the zygote (as it's called) can be transferred to the fallopian tube (by laparoscopy or vaginally, by ultrasound-guided catheter)
  • the fertilised, pre-syngamy egg can be frozen (cryostored) to allow you to make a decision later on whether to transfer, donate or leave it to dissolve away.

Putting your zygote back into the uterus pre-syngamy satisfies the guidelines of a number of religions.

Other treatment options and alternatives

We understand that some religions prohibit masturbation, therefore creating a challenge for both male fertility testing and the collection of sperm for IUI or IVF. Solutions include:

  • religious waivers due to the sperm being used for procreation; or
  • the use of a Seminal Collection Device (SCD) — a non-sperm-toxic condom used during intercourse to collect sperm without masturbation. You can purchase these special condoms from Genea.

Special approaches for religions

Christianity

The available options depend on the moral significance of the stages of egg collection, fertilisation, embryo formation, implantation, and subsequent development. We will accord with your beliefs and those of your religious or theological advisor, if you have one.

The Catholic Church maintains that IVF is unethical because it undermines the dignity of the sexual act designed by God for married couples. In our experience, Catholics vary in their practical position. In vitro fertilisation with cryostorage prior to syngamy has been acceptable to some of our observing patients.

The Brethren have made use of ovarian stimulation and IUI at Genea.

Some Christian couples might have a preference for IVF with PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) over prenatal testing of the fetus for genetic disease prevention, as prenatal testing may lead to a difficult decision regards to termination of pregnancy.

The Protestant Church

The Protestant churches accept assisted reproductive technologies when the egg and sperm are from a married couple and when the procedure avoids damage to the embryo. Sperm and egg donation are prohibited.

Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Mormon, Presbyterian, Episcopal, United Church of Christ, Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, Mennonites

These churches have quite liberal attitudes to infertility testing and treatment and generally accept IVF with egg and sperm from married couples and no embryo wastage.

Hinduism and Buddhism

These faiths are generally very tolerant of the range of fertility treatments available, including the use of donated reproductive tissues. Buddhism does have objections to the creation of excess embryos.

Islam

The use of donated eggs or sperm has generally been unacceptable. Surgical male sperm recovery techniques are popular, such as the retrieval of the sperm directly from the testes (testicular sperm extraction - TESE) or the retrieval of sperm directly from the epididymis which joins the testis to the vas deferens (epididymal sperm aspiration - ESA).

Judaism

Genea has experience with the conduct of strictly Kosher treatment programs, including rabbinical supervision of all egg and sperm manipulations, avoidance of procedures during menstruation, and strict observance of the Sabbath.

Read A Jewish View of Infertility and its Treatment by Genea Fertility Specialist Dr Devora Lieberman.

Genea can devise assisted conception programs accepted by virtually all faiths. Please give us a call to discuss how we can help you. We respect our patients’ individual beliefs and ensure your experience at Genea can accommodate your faith.