10 October 2017

What is Egg Donation?

Pregnant at 40

Medical Director
Cesar Diaz-Garcia
MD PhD Assoc Prof
IVI London


For many people, egg donation offers the ability to have a child…

…and this can be a very rewarding experience for all involved. Here at IVI, we assist couples and singles who are seeking to have a child, achieve their dreams of becoming parents. Egg donation offers the opportunity for a woman to carry a child and experience pregnancy, an experience that adoption or surrogacy does not offer.

What is Egg Donation?

Egg donation is the process whereby a woman donates her eggs to recipients wishing to have their own child. It is an assisted reproduction procedure where the donor’s eggs are fertilised with sperm to produce embryos. These embryos are then transferred into the uterus in the hope that the fertilisation will make pregnancy possible.

Commonly, egg donation is part of in vitro fertilisation, with the eggs being fertilised in a laboratory before being transferred into the woman’s uterus. Sometimes a donor’s eggs are frozen for fertilisation at a later date.

Who is Egg Donation for?

The need for egg donation may arise for numerous reasons. However, it is most commonly for:

  • Women for whom repeated IVF has been unsuccessful.
  • Women who do not produce eggs of their own, due to the menopause, maternal age, premature ovarian failure, or ovarian surgery.
  • Women whose ovaries cannot be accessed to obtain eggs.
  • Women who have, or whose embryos have, chromosomal abnormalities.
  • Women who cannot use their own eggs because they are not of sufficient quality or carry certain hereditary diseases.
  • Women who have had repeated miscarriages.

Egg Donation and the Law

The legality of egg donation is complicated and something that many people don’t fully understand. Anonymity laws differ in every country, that includes laws over treatment rights, compensation and parental responsibility. Contemplation of legal issues usually arise when people are interested in undergoing egg donation treatment abroad. It is important to know any restrictions and regulations you may be faced with. If you are looking into egg donation outside of the UK, it is important you do your due diligence in researching the laws in that country.

Egg Donation UK

Egg donation in the UK is carried out either by the NHS or privately. In the UK, anyone who registered to donate eggs after April 1st, 2005 can no longer remain anonymous. All details of the egg donor will be kept on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority’s Register (otherwise known as the HFEA). These details will be protected for the donor’s anonymity and will not be available to the general public. This is because a child resulting from egg donation in the UK is legally entitled to find out the identity of their donor when they turn 18.

IVI have clinics throughout the United Kingdom and can help source a UK donor for any recipients. IVI UK currently partner with Altrui who support IVI patients in matching recipients to egg donors, providing a one donor to one recipient policy. This ensures that the donor will donate her eggs exclusively to one recipient.

Egg Donation with the NHS

In the UK, the NHS service allows for funded fertility treatment to be carried out on patients eligible for treatment. Requirements for NHS fertility treatment differ per region. All patients who are eligible for and willing to undergo fertility treatment will be referred to an NHS clinic in the UK for treatment. If you are referred to a specialist for further tests by your GP, the NHS will cover the payments.

However, fertility treatments by the NHS are in high demand and this can cause waiting lists for treatment to be extremely long in some areas. In this case, if time is of the essence, having private treatment may be the best option for you.

Egg Donation in Spain

The anonymity laws in Spain are different to those in the UK in that egg donors remain completely anonymous. All donors are thoroughly screened physically and psychologically which means many are rejected due to the high medical standards. It is the responsibility of the medical team to choose the appropriate egg donor for the patient.

In Spain, egg donation is anonymous. However, any children born as a result of egg donation have the right to obtain general information regarding their donor. This excludes the donor’s identity. The only exception to these circumstances is when the life or health of the child is in danger, or regarding Procedural Criminal Law, can the identity of the donor be identified.

Spain has the largest frozen egg bank in the world and, therefore, we have access to egg donors with all characteristics without a waiting list. Our IVI clinics in Spain offer unbeatable service to international patients. Our doctors and tutors are bilingual to offer the most comprehensive treatment possible, making our clinics a benchmark in their field.

Consultation and Matching Process

Here at IVI, we aim to match you with a physically similar donor with as many things in common as possible. Sometimes the matching process can be extremely quick, while other times it can take several months. However, once you have been matched with a suitable donor for you, we can move forward with treatment.

The Process of Egg Donation

At the start of the process, patients undergo treatment to prepare their body for embryo transfer. This involves the following:

Medication – To prepare the uterus for implantation of the transferred embryos, women are given medication that heightens their chances of implantation success.

Preparation of the Sperm – In the laboratory, the sperm is prepared and the most suitable sperm for fertilising the egg is selected. Sperm can also be frozen in advance of the egg donation process and used when compatible eggs are available.

Fertilisation and Transfer – The eggs are fertilised with sperm either using in vitro fertilisation or sperm microinjection. Once fertilised, the eggs are kept in an incubator until the embryo is ready for transfer into the woman’s uterus. At IVI, the scientific staff, alongside the medical team, select the embryo to transfer in order to maximise the chances of pregnancy occurring.

Advantages of Egg Donation

There are numerous advantages of egg donation for the recipient. Egg donation can be the solution to infertility for many people, allowing them to fulfil their dreams of becoming parents. Other benefits include:

  • Experiencing pregnancy in its entirety.
  • You can control lifestyle decisions during your pregnancy such as diet, smoking and drinking, which you cannot control during adoption or surrogacy.
  • Donors are physically matched with the recipient couples as closely as possible.

Risks of Egg Donation

Egg donation is a safe procedure and the majority of women won’t experience any health problems beyond the slight discomfort of having the treatment itself. The only possible risk to be aware of is having a reaction to the fertility drugs. Normally, if this happens the effects are mild and include feeling irritable or down, headaches, hot flushes and general restlessness.

Counselling with IVI

Whether you’re an egg donor or a recipient, IVI UK requires all patients to attend mandatory counselling. Counselling is highly encouraged as it provides emotional support and information to help manage the stress and difficult feelings that commonly arise during the infertility journey. IVI help patients by allowing them to talk through their feelings or concerns with a counselling professional in a relaxed space.

At IVI, we have seen the successful results from counselling in helping prepare patients for their next steps. For more information about counselling at IVI, please see our dedicated counselling website page.

If you would like to discuss your fertility treatment options, please phone us on 01827 311 170, or contact via our contact form.

Contact IVI Today

Here at IVI, we have all the latest technology to support the ongoing work of our professionals, enabling us to improve our pregnancy rates every year. For more information regarding our success rates, please see our clinical results from 2016 or download the most recent verification report.

IVI are the world leaders in fertility treatment and we can support you in your egg donation journey. If you are interested in egg donation, please call 0800 52 00 161 or complete the patient contact form here.

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