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Egg sharing

Some clinics offer free or discounted IVF treatment to women who agree to share their eggs with another woman or couple having treatment. Find out more about what egg sharing involves and whether you’re eligible to be an egg sharer.

What is egg sharing?

Egg sharing is when a woman who is already having IVF donates some of her eggs to the clinic where she’s having treatment, usually in return for some free or discounted treatment.

In order for an egg share to take place, the clinic needs to be able to collect enough eggs in a single cycle to share between the egg sharer and the recipient. (See below for information on what happens if enough eggs aren't collected).

Patients should never be put under any pressure to share their eggs. It's a big decision with serious implications and patients should take their time to think through all the pros and cons and receive professional counselling before going ahead. 

Close up of a microscope

You may need to have further health tests before you can share your eggs

Am I eligible to share my eggs?

As with egg donation, there are certain criteria you’ll need to meet in order to be eligible to share your eggs.

Generally, women need to be 35 or under and have no transmittable diseases or serious, heritable medical conditions. You may need to undergo further health tests before being able to donate your eggs.

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

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What happens if my clinic can’t collect enough eggs?

Before agreeing to an egg sharing arrangement, your clinic should explain to you whether there is a minimum number of eggs that should be retrieved before egg sharing can go ahead.

Normally, if enough eggs can be collected, they’ll be shared equally with your egg recipient. If the clinic is unable to retrieve enough eggs to share, our guidance states that egg sharers should be given the option of using or storing all the eggs for her own treatment, at the agreed discount. 

Can I meet the woman receiving my eggs?

It's not possible for either you or the egg recipient to meet or find out any information that would identify you to each other.

It is possible for you to set conditions on how your eggs can be used, as long as those conditions don't discriminate against people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010.

View the protected characteristics 

What about the emotional impact of egg sharing?

Choosing to share your eggs is a serious decision and one you should think through very carefully before agreeing to anything.

Many people are attracted by the prospect of free or discounted IVF treatment, but you should also consider the very real risk that the woman you share your eggs with gets pregnant and you don’t. Consider how you would feel in that situation and whether you’d still be happy with your decision.

There’s also a chance that any child or children conceived with your donation may try and get in contact with you in the future. Under UK law, donor-conceived children can request the name and last known address of their donor when they turn 18. If your egg recipient if successful you’ll need to be prepared for the possibility that her child(ren) may try and make contact with you – and the possibility that they won’t.

To make sure you fully understand the implications of your decision, licensed clinics are required by law to offer you counselling. What this means in practice can vary so when you’re researching clinics, make sure you ask about their counselling provision if it’s something that’s important to you.

Alternatively, if you’d prefer to access counselling privately or you think you’d benefit from additional counselling, the British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA) is a good place to find qualified counsellors with expertise in these issues.

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Getting emotional support

Can I find out if my donation has been successful?

Yes, your clinic will be able to tell you if the woman or couple you've shared your eggs with have become pregnant.

If your donation results in the birth of a child or children, you can also apply to us for information on:

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

We can't give you any information that would reveal the identity of the donor-conceived child(ren).

What if I change my mind?

You’re free to change your mind and withdraw your consent at any point up until an embryo created with your eggs is transferred to the recipient’s womb. 

Your clinic should explain to you before you start treatment what, if any, additional charges you would need to pay in these circumstances.

I’m ready – what are the next steps?

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to do some research into your preferred clinics and then find one that offers egg sharing. Before you agree, your clinic should provide you with an agreement covering:

  • The number of treatment cycles or length of storage you’re entitled to receive for free or at the agreed discounted price.
  • Any additional costs you’ll need to cover, such as a consultation fee or health tests.
  • The minimum number of eggs required for an egg sharing arrangement.
  • The number of recipients among whom the eggs will be shared (which should be no more than two, excluding the egg sharer).
  • How the eggs will be distributed between the sharer and recipient(s).
  • The circumstances in which you’d need to pay for your full treatment costs and what those costs would be.

You’ll also need to give your informed consent to treatment and be offered the opportunity to receive counselling before agreeing to become an egg sharer.

Find out more about consent to treatment

Find out more about getting emotional support

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Review date: 5 July 2019