Egg donation is a process by which a woman donates her eggs to enable another woman to conceive and start a family. Like other fertility treatments, egg donation is increasingly common, with ageing populations waiting longer before deciding to have children and start a family.
Why Do People Donate Eggs?
Although there is no single reason for why people donate eggs, there are some common reasons often cited:
- Family and/or friends with fertility issues, seeing or experiencing the struggle of a close family member or friend
- A donor having received a donation in the past, desiring to give back
- Having finished their own family, a donor may wish to donate eggs to aid another family
- In order to donate to a friend, if a compatible donor
What Are The Benefits of Egg Donation?
Donating eggs can be an incredibly rewarding act to undertake, which comes with numerous potential benefits:
- Health screenings as part of the procedure
- A chance to help another person start a family
- A chance to preserve one’s own eggs
- A safe and short medical procedure
- A chance at a healthy pregnancy
- A chance to choose the donor
- Flexibility and control over the process.
Risks of Egg Donation Explained
The egg donation process is usually very safe, and most people will not experience any side effects due to the treatment.
Very rare possible side effects include:
- Reaction to the fertility drugs, producing mild effects such as headaches or hot flushes
- Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, serious reaction which presents with stomach pains, breathlessness, vomiting and fainting
What to Expect From the Egg Donation Procedure
Before the procedure, your clinician will carry out some tests and discuss various considerations with you, including:
- Health screening for genetic diseases or other conditions that will affect the viability of the donated eggs
- Family history of conditions including genetic or mental health conditions
- Counselling will be provided to ensure you are aware of the full extent of your choice and how it may affect you in the future
- You will need to provide consent in writing
The donation process is the same as the early stages of IVF:
- You are given medication to stimulate the ovaries to produce eggs. This can be done by suppressing natural hormones before taking stimulating hormones, receiving daily injections or nasal spray. Scans and blood tests are used to determine if the natural cycle is fully suppressed and whether the ovaries are stimulated enough to produce eggs
- Eggs are collected using a needle that is passed into the vagina whilst under general anaesthetic or sedated. This usually takes around 30 mins
- In the case of a heterosexual couple undertaking IVF treatment, while the female’s eggs are being collected, the male will provide a sperm sample. If the sample has a low sperm count, other options such as a donor or intracytoplasmic sperm injection may be considered. If the sperm sample is viable, it is stored in the freezer for later fertilisation.
How Much Does Egg Donation Cost?
- To donate eggs, donors are usually compensated up to £750 per cycle.
- This process is offered on the NHS, but patients and recipients must meet eligibility criteria and counselling is offered.