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Donating your eggs

Choosing to donate your eggs to someone in need is an amazing, selfless act that gives hope to the thousands of women who are unable to conceive naturally. Find out more about what egg donation involves and if it’s something you can offer. 

What is egg donation?

Egg donation is when a woman goes through part of the IVF process in order to have some of her eggs collected, which she can then donate to someone else's treatment, fertility research or training.

Find out more about donating to research

In many cases women donate to someone they know, such as a family member who may be unable to use her own eggs. Others donate for the pleasure of being able to help someone they don’t know have a much wanted baby.

Some women having IVF choose to become egg sharers, which means they donate some of their eggs to another women having treatment in exchange for free or discounted IVF.

Find out more about egg sharing

Why do some women use donated eggs in treatment?

There are many reasons why a woman might not be able to use her own eggs, including if she’s had cancer treatment, gone through the menopause or her children are at risk of inheriting a serious genetic disease. By using donated eggs she has the option of using her partner’s sperm (if she has one) and of experiencing pregnancy.

Who can donate their eggs?

Usually women need to be between the ages of 18 and 35 to donate their eggs to someone's treatment. Clinics may only allow eggs from an older woman to be used in exceptional circumstances, such as if you’re donating to a family member.

Before you donate you’ll need to have certain health tests to ensure you don't pass on any serious diseases or medical conditions to the baby or mother. You should also tell your clinic about any inheritable diseases in your family.

Some clinics also set additional eligibility criteria, including minimum and maximum Body Mass Indexes (BMIs). Talk to your preferred clinic or clinics about their process. 

Can I donate to a family member, friend or someone else I know?

Yes you can, but there are restrictions on mixing the eggs and sperm of close family members such as brother and sister (including half brothers and sisters) or uncles and nieces. Donating to any of your female relatives however, is fine.

If you’re thinking about donating your eggs for use in the treatment of a male relative, speak to your clinic first.

If you’re donating to a woman you know and you only want her to receive your eggs then you’ll need to state this in your consent form.

Find out more about giving consent

What compensation is available?

It's illegal to pay for egg donation in the UK. Egg donors can receive compensation of up to £750 per donation ‘cycle’ to cover their costs. A donation cycle is one complete round of treatment, at the end of which the eggs are collected and donated. There is the option to claim more to cover higher costs such as travel, accommodation and childcare. 

If you're an egg donor who is not a permanent resident of the UK, you may be compensated in the same way as a UK donor but you will not be able to claim for overseas travel expenses.

Do I have any legal rights and responsibilities for children born from my donation?

No. You will have no legal rights or responsibilities to children born from your donation. You’ll have no say over their upbringing and won’t be required to pay anything towards their care.

However, children born from your donation will be able to contact you when they reach 18. It’s up to you whether you want to have any kind of relationship with them at that point.

Writing a personal description and goodwill message can be very helpful to both parents of donor-conceived children and donor-conceived people themselves in the years to come. Download the leaflet on the left for advice on how to do this. 

What’s the process for donating my eggs?

Personal information: Your clinic will ask you to provide some personal information. Some non-identifying information will be available to the hopeful parents at the time of donation and your identifying information will be available to any children conceived with your donation when they turn 18.

Find out more about the rules around releasing donor information

Health tests: You’ll need to have tests for certain diseases, including any serious genetic diseases, before you can donate.

It’s very important you tell your clinic about any problems in your or your family’s medical histories. If you or your family have a serious physical or mental condition and you don’t tell your clinic about it, you could face legal action if a child born from your donation inherits it.

Counselling: Your clinic is required by law to offer you counselling. We strongly recommend you take it up, as it will help you to think through all the implications of your decision and how it could affect you and your family in the future.

Your consent: You need to consent in writing before donating your eggs. You can change or withdraw your consent - see more below. 

Donating: The process for donating is exactly the same as the early stages of IVF.

  1. Medication taken as a daily injection or nasal spray will suppress your natural hormone production. This will give your doctor complete control of the fertility process.
  2. You’ll have a scan to check your natural cycle is fully suppressed. If it is you’ll start hormone treatment (usually gonadotrophins) to boost the number of eggs your body produces.
  3. A day or two before your eggs are due to be collected you’ll be given a hormone injection (normally human chorionic gonadotrophin or hCG) to help the eggs mature.
  4. Your eggs will be collected whilst you’re sedated or under general anaesthetic. The procedure takes around half an hour and you may feel a little sore or bruised.
  5. Whilst your eggs are being collected, the woman’s partner will be asked to produce a sperm sample (or her donor’s sperm will be taken from the freezer) for mixing with your eggs.
Giving consent leaflet front cover

Download our leaflet Giving consent: a guide for donors

Are there any risks from donating your eggs?

Donating your eggs is generally very safe; most women won’t experience any health problems beyond the discomfort of having the treatment itself. The only potential risk to be aware of is having a reaction to your fertility drugs. Normally if this happens the effects are mild and include hot flushes, feeling irritable or down, headaches and restlessness.

In some very rare cases women develop ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS).  OHSS is a very serious and potentially fatal reaction to fertility drugs, which happens about a week after your eggs have been collected. Symptoms include a swollen stomach and stomach pains and, in extreme cases, nausea, vomiting, breathlessness, fainting, a swollen stomach and reduced urine.

If you have any reactions to your fertility drugs it’s very important you let your clinic know straight away. Never feel like you're wasting their time.

Find out more about the risks of fertility treatment

What about the emotional impact of donating my eggs?

Choosing to donate your eggs is a big decision and it’s not for everyone. For that reason, your clinic will offer you counselling before you donate to make sure you’re completely comfortable with whatever you decide.

It’s not possible to donate anonymously so any children conceived with your donation could contact you when they’re older. Obviously for some people, meeting the families they helped to create is a wonderful privilege whereas others feel less comfortable with that prospect.

You may also need to tell a partner or children of your own about your donation later on so you need to be prepared for that. Doing your research now and feeling completely happy with your decision will ensure you’re 100% committed to this extraordinary gesture.

Find out more about getting emotional support

What if I change my mind?

You can change your mind about donating your eggs any time up to the point at which your eggs are used in treatment. This applies even if you’ve already signed the consent form.

Find out more about giving consent

What can I find out about any children conceived with my donation?

you can find out:

  • the number of children born
  • their gender
  • their year of birth

We can't give you any information that would potentially identify the children conceived with your donation.

What are the next steps for donating my eggs?

If you’d like to donate your eggs you’ll need to find a licensed UK fertility clinic that recruits egg donors or if you’re donating to someone you know, their clinic should have processes in place that allow known donation.

Choose a fertility clinic

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Review date: 1 November 2019