The subject of egg donation is often difficult to approach. I’m asked a lot ‘When should egg donation be considered?’ That too, is a difficult question to answer as everyone is different.

The most common factors to consider are age and egg reserves. If you are in your forties and IVF isn’t working for you, you are getting very few eggs and your reserves are low (you can test to establish your reserves), there is a point when you need to think about the next steps and that might well be egg donation. Otherwise you could be paying for IVF with little chance of success.

I believe it is so important that a woman does not give up on her own genetic child until she has done everything possible but when she feels she has done everything, it is still such a difficult decision to make to then consider egg donation. However, this does carry a much higher percentage chance of having a family so is an important course of action to consider.

The 4 most common questions we get asked about Egg Donation:

1. When might Egg Donation be an option?

Egg donation may be suggested as an option under the following circumstances:

  • egg quality is an issue
  • you have suffered premature ovarian failure
  • IVF has repeatedly been unsuccessful
  • following surgery or chemotherapy
  • you are at risk of passing on a genetic disorder

Egg donation is also an option increasingly offered to older women. Remember that whether you feel young, whether you look your age or not, your body knows how old you are and your ovaries too. It is the age of your eggs (your ovarian age) which counts. IVF success rates (and live birth rates) using your own eggs over the age of 45 are extremely low which is why most clinics do not offer women IVF over a certain age. Clinics all have an age cut-off for egg donation too, but some clinics will treat women up to 50.

Remember there is always a transition you have to go through especially in your mid forties to make this decision. You do have time to think about the next steps and opening up your mind about making this decision.

Women do not need to be having regular periods, or to be having periods at all. Provided a woman has a healthy uterus (womb) her body will be able to provide the conditions required for an embryo to develop.

2. What are the success rates?

For a woman using donor eggs, successful live birth is dependent on the age of the eggs, not on the age of the mother. Not only are your chances of pregnancy significantly increased with donor eggs, your chances of miscarrying are greatly reduced. A woman in her early 40s, using her own eggs, has about a 7% to 10% chance of getting pregnant with assisted conception using her own eggs, but if she uses a donor egg, her chance increases to 25% to 60%. This is higher than the average success rate for conventional IVF across all age groups; because donor eggs are from fertile women under 30-35.

3. How can we decide if this treatment is right for us?

The decision to go down the donor egg route is not an easy one. It is strongly recommended that you and your partner (if you have one) talk to an experienced fertility counsellor and possibly to other people who have had egg donation before making your decision to go ahead. All HFEA-licensed clinics are obliged to offer access to implications counselling before you consent to treatment. You, as the egg recipient, will be the biological mother (and the legal mother) although not the genetic mother. Clearly, the whole issue of egg donation is complex and requires specialised counselling to consider all the implications.

4. What is implications counselling?

The aim of implications counselling is to enable you to reflect upon and understand the proposed course of treatment for yourselves, your family, other significant people, and most importantly for any child born as a result of your treatment with donor eggs. At least one session is recommended before consenting to any proposed treatment. Many couples subsequently seek additional support counselling at later stages of treatment.

How can the Zita West Team help?

The multi-disciplinary team at Zita West Clinics can help to provide physical and emotional support at all stages of the IVF / Egg Donation process – from coming to terms with not being able to have your own genetic child, contemplating the egg donation route, to practical support with choosing a clinic, right through to support with complementary therapies to boost your chances of successful treatment, or to deciding that egg donation is not right for you and moving on to adoption or coming to terms with not having a child.
An initial consultation with one of our midwives will help you to plan your next steps and discuss how the clinic team can support you. This may include:

  • Nutrition – to help boost energy and prepare your womb lining ready for your embryos.
  • Acupuncture – to help reduce stress and boost blood flow to the womb lining.
  • Male assessment – to ensure the sperm are healthy and in tip-top condition
  • Hypnotherapy / positive visualisation – to help you to focus your mind through the cycle
  • Fertility counselling: For both implications and support counselling. If you are travelling abroad for treatment you may not have access to these with those clinics.

Overseas Egg Donation

We work with clinics overseas and are able to help co-ordinate tests and scans. We can do much of the preparation, blood work and scans prior to your cycle and liaise with your chosen clinic.

Further resources:

  • ‘What you need to know about donated sperm & eggs HFEA factsheet’
  • Support for potential parents with issues around telling a child:
  • Infertility Network UK: for infertility support
  • British Infertility Counselling Association: lists local fertility counsellors.

For more information on how we can help and to contact the clinic visit