Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve been listening to our donors and we’ve compiled a list of questions that we get and the answers that we give. We think that we’ve covered most of the bases, but please let us know if we haven’t!
What is an egg donor?
An egg donor is a healthy young woman who is between the ages of 19 and 35. This special woman donates a few of her eggs to a recipient who strongly desires to have a child but who is unable to produce eggs from her own ovaries. Following their removal, the eggs are fertilized with the recipient’s male partner’s sperm or with donor sperm. The resulting embryos are then placed into the recipient’s uterus. She then has the amazing opportunity of becoming pregnant, carrying, and delivering a child to finally create the family she has so long hoped for. A donor gives one of the most beautiful gifts possible—the gift of potentially growing a family. Egg donors are so special, that they get front row seats and houses with sea views up in heaven.
Why would someone need an egg donor?
The recipient of donor egg(s) is someone who desires to have a child but is unable to produce viable eggs themselves. Various reasons a woman might not be able to produce eggs include premature ovarian failure, infertility due to poor egg quality or age, severe endometriosis, genetic disorders that she does not want to pass on, or elevated follicle stimulating hormone.
What are the risks?
At Grace UK Egg Donor Agency, we believe in giving our donors all of the information they need to make an informed decision. The clinics and fertility doctors Grace UK Egg Donor Agency works with are experts at what they do and care a great deal about our donors. That being said, as with any medical procedure there is a small risk of things going wrong.
The primary risk is a condition called Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). This is relatively rare (1% of IVF cases). It is caused by the ovary producing too many eggs in response to the drug stimulation. This is why we make sure that you can get to the clinic for all those important scans – The doctors can soon pick up that your ovaries are overzealous – and will adjust the medication accordingly. i.e., lower the medication whilst you are on it. If OHSS does kick in, it normally happens a day or two after the retrieval – you will go from feeling uncomfortable to rotten – You have your Grace UK Donors representative’s cell number – you will have the doctor’s cell number and if in any doubt, get dialling. Symptoms include feeling nauseous, extreme bloating and pain. The doctor will ask you to get to the clinic so that he can assess your condition. Normally extra bed rest and a couple of days for your ovaries to shrink back to their normal size is sufficient. IF the doctors are overly concerned, they will check you into the clinic, hook you up to a drip and administer anti-biotics. Basically, your ovaries are swollen, and they need an extra bit of TLC and time to shrink back to their normal size.
Please note you are not responsible for any costs related to any hospital admission due to obtaining OHSS from the egg donation.
How many times may I donate?
The UK guidelines state that as an egg donor a maximum of 10 families can be created with the use of your eggs, however, you are able to limit this number.
So – it is completely up to you as to whether you would like to donate more than once. When you are matched for a donation, we remove your profile from our website. After the donation is completed – if you would like to join the gorgeous and divine Grace UK team once more, we will put your profile back on the website a month after your last donation. That way if you get snapped up straight away, you will have had three months break between donations.
What is BMI ?
Body mass index or BMI is an index of a person’s relative “skinniness or heaviness”. The BMI factors in a person’s weight and their height to give an overall “index”. For a woman to donate eggs, it is a medical requirement that her BMI is between 18 and 29.
Why should I donate through Grace Donors?
We understand the business of egg donation better than anyone else. Before you become an egg donor with Grace UK, we will have a one-on-one chat with you. This gives us the opportunity to explain exactly how it all works – the good, the bad and the not so ugly! We have supported many donors over the years who have signed up and donated through us. We will answer all your questions honestly and support you all the way through the process.
What is the first step of being an egg donor?
Recipients often look for a donor who matches their physical characteristics, or who they have some other connection with. Once you qualify to be an egg donor through our fabulous agency, your information will be placed on our password protected donor list where recipients can view your profile. We are a completely anonymous egg donor agency so your confidential information will not be shared. The Recipients will not know your identity but will know your physical characteristics and any pertinent details of your medical and family history.
How does a recipient choose a donor?
The factors recipients consider are varied and personal. For some people, things like eye colour, hair colour etc are important. Some are looking for donors who share similar interests. Actually, it is often the little messages and personal bits that help them decide on the ‘right’ donor for them. It is very important that you complete the application as honestly and thoroughly as possible.
What if I am on birth control?
You can continue to use the birth control that you are on while you are waiting to be matched with a recipient. Once chosen, when you attend your first medical appointment at the clinic, the Dr will discuss your current birth control method with you and your course of action going forward.
For the ladies who are on the contraceptive pill, please note that during the actual donation process – you will be taken off the pill for a month – during this time you will need to abstain or use extra precaution as you will be very fertile during this period.
Will donating eggs now affect my chances of getting pregnant in the future?
Women are born with a finite number of eggs, around 1-2 million. At puberty, that number has dwindled to 300,000 and subsequently approximately 750-1000 eggs are lost each month by a process called atresia. The eggs not only begin to diminish in quantity, but also in quality. The combination of these factors leads to a woman’s fertility beginning to decline in her 20’s and significantly deteriorating after age 35. The chance of natural conception for a woman older than 43 is very low.
Normally of the 750-1000 eggs that are lost, one (or two) will ovulate. With egg donation 10-15 eggs are given to another woman. These eggs would have been lost with your period that month anyway.
Therefore, egg donation does not reduce the number of eggs in the ovary.
Will it hurt?
The first part of egg donation is the injections. For those who have a needle phobia, the needles are small and similar to the insulin injections used by diabetics. So, on a scale of between 1-10 with 10 being the worst, the injections barely register (promise).
The egg donation involves the extraction of eggs from your ovaries which is done under light sedation (but you will be fast asleep). The discomfort you may feel afterwards really depends on your pain thresh hold. Most of our donors experience the discomfort at about a 2 to 3 out of 10 but we do have some donors who report greater discomfort. A couple of pain killers (provided by the clinic) along with a hot water bottle and a good sleep normally sorts everything out. However, if you are worried, the clinics Grace UK Egg Donors work with, are on standby to assist you.
What are normal activities after the procedure?
If you are driving yourself to the clinic on the day of retrieval, it is very important that you take someone with you so they can drive you home after the procedure (this is a non-negotiable as driving after a light anaesthetic is not a good idea.) If you are using public transport, we suggest taking a friend or family member along with you on the day of retrieval just to help keep an eye on you on your way home however if this is not possible – please note that you are kept in recovery at the clinic for a few hours after the procedure and the nurses will only allow you to be released once they are comfortable that you can get home safely using public transport.
We recommend you take it easy for a few days after the procedure – after all, you have just given an awe-inspiring, world changing gift to your recipient parents. Your fertility clinic doctor may give you some guidelines to follow post procedure.
Who pays the medical bills?
All medical costs are funded by the recipient couple.
What about compensation?
Compensation is guided by the HFEA and is currently set at £750. This compensation paid is not intended to pay for the eggs donated (as donors donate their eggs as a gift of hope), nor for monetary reward. You are not ‘selling’ your eggs, you are giving them as a gift to someone else and for the mission of going through all the appointments and taking your meds. The payment is recompense for expenses occurred and inconvenience suffered during the donation process. The £750 does not even begin to come close to reflecting the immense gratitude the recipients feel. Their deep appreciation and good wishes for the donor continue for many years.
Do I meet the couple receiving my eggs?
No. Grace UK operates within the HFEA law. Please refer to point 31 for further information regarding the anonymity in terms of the HFEA law.
Will I know the outcome of the donation?
Yes, if your recipients let us know the outcome, we will be sure to keep you informed.
Will I have to take time off from my studies or work?
Yes – Once matched, there will be an initial appointment with the doctors at the clinic. In addition to this, you will also have a once off session with the Counsellor. During the actual procedure, you will have to go to the clinic at least 4 to 5 times for ultrasounds. (This is over a 2-week period) You will also have to take a day off for egg retrieval. These visits cannot be scheduled for outside of normal working hours or on Saturdays.
What are the possible side effects?
Let’s chat about 2 of the concerns most of our donors are concerned about.
1. Weight Gain
You are only on the medication for 12 days so you shouldn’t (if you are following your normal diet) pick up more than a kilo or two – most of which is water retention which will subside quickly after the donation.
2. Mood Swings
The doctors that Grace UK Egg Donor Agency works with are some of the best in the United Kingdom and are incredibly careful about the medication they give to our donors. As a result, you might feel a little different than normal, but this too shall pass.
Can I be registered with other donor agencies?
Yes, but we ask you kindly that if you are and you do get chosen through either Grace UK Egg Donor Agency or another agency that you, please communicate with the relevant agencies so that we don’t disappoint recipient families who might choose you.
What if I am a virgin?
There is no problem with you being a virgin, however you do need to be aware that you will be required to undergo several internal vaginal scans and there is a risk that the hymen may be ruptured. Grace UK Egg Donor Agency works with many amazing women who are virgins who donate their eggs successfully.
Will there be any cutting or scarring?
No. The eggs are extracted with an ultrasound guided fine needle through the vaginal wall while you are under anaesthetic. The egg retrieval takes about 20 minutes. You can see a video of the procedure if you click this link www.youtube.com/watch?v=mV5lA_0i4S4
Can HIV positive women donate?
What if I live far away /outside of the cities where the fertility clinics are located?
Grace UK has many travelling donors who come from different parts of the UK to donate. Currently all the Fertility clinics that we work with, are based in London but there is no cost to you as the donor, as all of you travelling expenses will be covered by your recipient.
You will need to attend an initial appointment at the clinic, and then 2 months later you will need to attend the rest of your clinic appointments during the 2-week donation period, and if you are travelling from very far (Scotland for example), the option of you having accommodation in London will be discussed with the Recipient to minimise the travelling required.
Can one donate eggs while still breastfeeding?
No, you need to have finished breast-feeding and have had 2 consecutive periods again prior to being able to donate
What is the time commitment to donate?
From the time you are chosen by a recipient it usually takes 3 to 4 months until the actual egg donation happens. The initial screening happens shortly after being chosen (2 appointments – one with the doctor and one with the Counsellor). Then about 2 months after the initial screening the actual donation process begins. You will have an appointment to collect your medication and once you start injecting yourself with the fertility medication, there will be a minimum of 3 visits to the clinic for an internal scan + the day of retrieval (this is the only day you will need to take the whole day off.) A doctor’s note can be arranged with reception at the clinic for any/all the appointments, (this will be a regular gynae letter & will not disclose that you are donating your eggs.) To summarize – you are looking at 6-7 appointments over a 3–4-month period.
Can I still have sex during the egg donation process?
Yes, BUT, because of the fertility drugs in your system you will need to be extra careful to avoid falling pregnant yourself. The ‘rhythm method’ is not a reliable form of contraception while you are on the medication.
How do I know the recipients are “good” people?
Our recipients are amazing, resilient and tenacious people. Most of them have endured years of fertility treatment, to no avail. The common thread that connects this group of people is the desire to become parents. Each and every recipient has consulted with a Fertility Specialist, at the highest level and the decision to use an egg donor is sometimes not an easy one. Although our recipients are eternally grateful for the generosity and appreciate the ultimate act of kindness offered by you (our donors), they still undergo a certain amount of emotional distress before finding peace in the process.
You can rest assured knowing that the physical, emotional and financial investment made by our recipient parents is reassurance of the fact that these are good people, wanting to be good parents.
Our team support each and every recipient through their journey, from choosing a donor who is right for them, throughout the donation process and beyond.
Does a previous miscarriage or termination of pregnancy count against me?
No it doesn’t.
Who chooses the hospital and the gynae?
Your treatment will take place at the clinic where your recipient’s fertility Dr is based. We will only know which clinic you are donating at if/when you are selected. The clinics we work with can be found here.
Is it ensured that the whole process is anonymous between the donor and the recipient?
With regards to the legal side of things- in as far as the law is concerned, the woman who gives birth is always considered to be the child’s legal mother. This is the case, even if the treatment involved the use of donor eggs or embryos. The law only recognises one person as the legal mother of the child – the woman who gave birth to the child, not the egg donor. As the egg donor, you will have no legal obligations or rights to any child born from your donation. You also won’t be asked to support the child financially as you aren’t their legal parent.
If your donation results in a child being conceived from your egg(s)- then as long as you donated through an HFEA regulated clinic (which we ensure all our clinics are!) and the parents choose to tell the child that he or she is from an egg donor that child has the following legal rights:
From the age of 16, they can ask if they were conceived from donated eggs and can also check whether they’re genetically related to someone they intend to enter into a physical relationship with. They can get non-identifying information about the egg donor. e.g., hair colour, eye colour, and weight, and if you wrote a good will message to the child, this is the age they get to read it.
From the age of 18, they can ask for identifying information about the egg donor. i.e.name, date of birth, last known address and where you were born.
In practice, the parents of this child can ask for your non-identifying information before the child turns 16, but they cannot find out the donor’s identity.
How many eggs do they take?
It is impossible to tell how many eggs will mature during the donation process because every woman is different and responds differently to the medication. Here at Grace Egg Donation Agency, we are less worries about the number of eggs as we are about the quality. It only takes one healthy embryo to make a recipients dream for their baby come true.