IVF with donor eggs

Egg donation involves acquiring eggs, from a known or unknown donor, for use during fertility treatment.

What is egg donation?

Egg donation is most commonly used when a patient is unable to produce her own eggs. This type of infertility is often associated with declining egg numbers (usually due to age) or poor egg quality.

Egg donation uses a donor’s egg, which is then fertilised with your partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm.

There are two types of fertility treatment with donor eggs – through a known donor (i.e. someone that you know) and through an unknown donor (i.e. an altruistic donor).

Known donation

A patient may choose to use eggs donated from a relative or another known person (e.g. a partner in a same-sex relationship).

  • Treatment is similar to a cycle of IVF, except that the eggs are sourced from a friend, relative or partner.

  • Patients receiving ‘fresh’ donor eggs from a donor must have hormone therapy to ensure that their own menstrual cycle matches the donor’s and is ready to receive an embryo for implantation.

  • For patients using frozen eggs, all eggs are stored in a frozen state and are only thawed for fertilisation and transfer when needed by the recipient patient.

Unknown donation

A patient may choose to use eggs donated from an unknown person via a donor bank.  Anonymous donation is currently only available outside the UK.

  • The HFEA clearly states that unknown donors must do so altruistically and non-anonymously.
  • Donors must be healthy with no history of genetic diseases or disorders – and must be between the ages of 18 and 35.
  • Further information can be found on the HFEA website.
  • To ensure that donors are non-identifiable, donor banks will all provide certain information – such as eye and hair colour, height, weight and occupation.
  • At 18, the child (and not the parents) can access the donor’s full identity and contact details if they so wish.

Using donor banks

Donor banks have comprehensive catalogue features to be able to filter for your perfect donor. You are usually able to select from ethnicity to hair and eye colour, adult height and personality, occupation and qualifications.

Once you’ve found the perfect fit, you can purchase the eggs online for your use in an IVF cycle. The number of donor eggs that you can purchase will vary from bank to bank. Generally speaking, they sell them in batches of anywhere between 6-10.


  • The frozen eggs from the donor bank will be delivered to your chosen clinic.
  • Once the eggs are in the laboratory, they will be fertilised with sperm from either your male partner or a sperm donor.
  • The patient will then undergo an embryo transfer, with the remaining embryos being vitrified for future use.

Next steps?

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