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Egg donation is the process whereby a woman uses the eggs from a donor in order to have their own child. The donor’s eggs are fertilised with sperm, usually from the woman’s partner, to produce embryos. These are then transferred into the womb, making pregnancy possible.
Who can be an egg donor?
To donate your eggs, you need to meet the following criteria
- Between 18 and 35 years of age
- In good health (healthy weight and a non-smoker)
- Have no family history of serious hereditary diseases
Types Of Egg Donors
There are three types of egg donors:
- Known donors
- Altruistic donors
- Egg sharers
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Egg Donation Process
We will take a full medical history which will be an opportunity to talk about your health and your family’s health. At the next appointment, a blood test and a transvaginal scan will be performed to give an idea of your ovarian reserve.
The clinic counsellor will arrange to talk with you about what donating your eggs means to you and your family. It will be an opportunity for you to explore and consider the implications of egg donation.
When all the screening tests are complete (this usually takes about four weeks) and the consent forms are signed. The donation process begins with the start of your period, and we need you call the clinic to let us know.
On the second day of your period, you start taking daily injections of a hormone that stimulates your ovaries to produce multiple egg-containing follicles. You’ll attend the clinic two to three times over two weeks for scans, and possibly blood tests, to monitor your response to the medication.
We will do an ultrasound scan to see if your follicles are ready, and the stimulation period will end with a trigger injection that matures the eggs in the follicles, ready for egg collection. This happens usually 36 hours before the egg collection procedure.
An appointment to collect the eggs will take place about 36 hours after the trigger injection. The procedure takes about half an hour, and an anaesthetist will give you drugs to make you sleepy and entirely comfortable during the procedure.
The clinic will contact you the following day to check on how you are feeling and tell you about how many eggs we were able to retrieve. You will be asked return to the clinic about two weeks after your egg collection, to have your final blood tests.
Egg donors can be told the number of babies born as a result of their donation, their gender and what year they were born.
Will any information be kept about me? Where will it be stored and who will see it? expand_more expand_less
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and your clinic will store the information about you. It is strictly confidential and identifiable information will only be revealed to any child born as a result of your donation when they are 18 years old and request information.
All egg donors must have blood tests for infection screening before they are accepted as donors. If you received a blood transfusion, then you can be reassured that the blood was infection screened and totally safe. If you have received an organ transplant, then you may need to take long-term medication which could prevent your clinic accepting you as a donor.
One in five women have Polycystic Ovaries, and most have normal fertility. Severe Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is associated with ovulation problems. Your clinic will be able to advise you about the impact of your medical history on your desire to donate.
Under UK law egg donors do need to supply information that would allow any children born as a result of their donation to contact them when they are 18 years old if they have been told by their parents that they are an ‘egg donation’ baby.
If you have been treated for an STI and made a complete recovery so that you are not infectious, then you can donate.
What happens if the screening and testing reveals I have a medical condition affecting my general health or fertility? expand_more expand_less
If the screening tests reveal unexpected medical or genetic information, the clinic doctors will explain the implications of the test results, arrange counselling and put you in touch with other specialists if necessary.
All egg donors must have blood tests for infection screening before they are accepted as donors. If you had procedures such as tattoos or piercing at a reputable salon, you would have no reason to worry about having picked up an infection that could stop you becoming a donor.
Every egg donor is special so if you have tried to become pregnant and not been able to the clinic will discuss your history with you and arrange some tests. Egg donation is very safe, but there is a small risk (1%) that your future fertility could be affected. The clinic will discuss these risks with you and will monitor you closely to minimise the risks. Some clinics prefer to accept women as donors who have already completed their families because this demonstrates their fertility, but women without children who are keen to become donors are very welcome.
Women who are trying to get pregnant or are pregnant are advised not to drink any alcohol. For egg donors, clinics ask that you adhere to the ‘healthy drinking rule’ which is no more than fourteen units a week.
All egg donors must have blood tests for infection screening before they are accepted as donors and their sexual partners will also be screened. There is no restriction on the right to donate on the grounds of sexual orientation and all would-be donors are welcome to apply.
Becoming an egg donor is a wonderful and generous thing to do, but it has implications for your family. Your children may have half brothers and sisters they may never know, and your partner may have concerns about your ‘genetic’ child wanting to get in touch in many years’ time. The clinic counsellor will be able to discuss these issues with you and your family.
Smoking has been shown to reduce the chance of birth from IVF treatment by up to 40%. If you need help with smoking-cessation therapy then talk to the clinic or see your GP.
Your donations can be used to create up to 10 families and so if there are frozen embryos left after a successful fresh transfer, then your recipient may be able to have siblings (brothers or sisters) from your generous donation.
All egg donors must have blood tests for infection screening before they are accepted as donors. Some countries are affected by Zika virus and malaria, and so it is important that you tell your clinic about any travel within the last six months.
Do I need to tell someone if I later discover I have some form of illness that could affect any children born from my donation? expand_more expand_less
It is vital that you keep in touch with your clinic and update them about the change of address etc. If you develop an illness that could be genetic in origin, you must contact your clinic and advise them.
The clinic staff and counsellors will encourage recipients to tell their children that they are donor conceived but they are not legally obliged to and we know that many recipients choose not to.
Severe endometriosis may make it difficult for you to become a donor as your egg reserve may be reduced. Your clinic will be able to advise you after they have your medical history and have done some tests to see how well you will respond to the treatment.
Fertility treatments like egg donation are very safe, but there is a small risk that your future fertility could be affected. The clinic will discuss these risks with you and will monitor you closely to minimise the risks. Some clinics prefer to accept women as donors who have already completed their families because this demonstrates their fertility, but women without children who are keen to become donors are very welcome.
Women who are significantly overweight : have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 30,are likely to respond less well to the drugs used in an egg donation treatment cycle. Your clinic will be able to advise you about your ideal weight and provide support and advice if you need to reduce your BMI.
I’m over 35 and would like to donate to a friend or family member, can I still do this? expand_more expand_less
Although egg donors usually need to be under 36 years, for ‘known’ donation clinics can be a little more flexible and are very supportive where friends or family members want to help by becoming an egg donor.
I’ve had one or more miscarriages, will this affect whether I can be an egg donor? expand_more expand_less
Most miscarriages are sadly just down to chance, and they do not usually mean that you have a fertility problem. Your clinic will discuss your medical history in detail with you and will advise you about becoming an egg donor.
A healthy lifestyle such as a balanced diet, no smoking and little or no alcohol will be best for your health and be most likely to result in a positive outcome for your recipient.
Adopted people can donate as nowadays they often know the medical history of their ‘birth parents’. It is very important that donors give as full an account as possible about their medical history.
Your donations can be used to create up to ten families including your own family if you have one now or plan one someday. Each generous contribution may be split between two recipients so you would be able to help twice as many people become parents. If there are frozen embryos left after a successful fresh transfer, then your recipient may be able to have siblings (brothers or sisters) from your generous donation. This may mean that more than ten babies are born. Your clinic can tell you about the number of families you have helped to create and how many more times you may donate.
A payment of £750 is made to egg donors to reimburse their travel and time-off-work expenses. The ‘gift of life’ is priceless and most donors say that they are just delighted to be able to help a couple fulfil their dream of becoming parents.
Egg donors often want to know about the legal aspects of their ‘gift of life’. Under UK law egg donors have no legal rights or responsibilities for children born as a result of their generous donation.
Women who wish to receive donor eggs have counselling about the desirability of telling their child about their genetic origins, but there is no legal obligation to do so. Children who are born from your donation will be able to contact you when they reach 18 years of age if they have been informed. This is a decision for their parents, and none of the medical professionals involved could influence their decision.