Causes & Treatment

Your guide to sperm and egg donation in Europe – the process, costs, and where to travel for donor IVF

Emma Harpham, in partnership with Maigaard Fertility Clinic  |   18 Mar 2024


Clinic fit. Donor availability. Shorter wait times. More of us in the US and UK are looking into donor sperm and donor egg IVF in Europe – and the list of reasons why just keeps getting longer.

A quick search for sperm and egg donation in Europe, though, will leave you with a whole web of country-specific regulations and price ranges to unpick.

We’ve put together a guide to the key specifics – so you don’t have to – together with two leading European clinics.

Two leading clinics share their expert insight

With Scandinavian excellence and top-quality care at its core, Maigaard Fertility Clinic brings 20 years of experience to every patient journey. Based in Denmark, they’re at the forefront of sperm donation in Europe.

Looking south, Portugal has some of the most progressive and patient-friendly fertility legislation – whether you’re looking for donor treatment or otherwise. Porto-based Procriar Fertility Clinic has one of the largest Open-ID egg and sperm banks in Europe.

We asked both teams for their expert insight on the processes and key specifics across the board, plus where to travel for the best donor IVF treatment, if you’re looking to book in.

What does the egg and sperm donation process look like, across Europe? 

In the UK, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) have strict rules and regulations which cover the egg and sperm donation process. 

When it comes to donating eggs or sperm in Europe, things do differ from country to country – from the criteria that donors must meet, to the screening that is carried out. 

Some key differences to keep in mind when you’re looking at your options include;

  • Donor age limits – Most countries set a lower age limit of 18 for egg donors, and an upper limit of 35, but can be as high as 38 years in France. For sperm donation, the upper age limit is 40 years on average across the board.
  • The donor screening process – Donors are screened to determine their health and fertility, and to avoid transmission of infectious or hereditary diseases. In some locations, psychological screening is also strongly encouraged.
  • The number of times the donor is allowed to donate – For example, in Portugal, egg donors are limited to donating four times in their lifetime, with at least a three-month gap between donations. For sperm donors, many countries have limits on the number of children originating from that donor.

The key takeaway here? These differences in laws and processes mean that donor availability really varies.  

Countries with greater donor availability, like Denmark and Portugal, are becoming more and more popular for those looking to travel for egg and sperm donation treatment.

Anonymous vs. open-ID donors in Europe – what’s the difference? 

One of the main comparison points across European countries is donor anonymity

  • Anonymous donors – In almost half of European countries, donors are anonymous by law, and donor-conceived children can’t access the identity of the donor or any other ancestry information.
  • Open-ID donors – In other countries, including the UK, Portugal and Denmark, donor-conceived offspring have the legal right to access the donor’s identity – when they reach a certain age.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of some of the top destinations:

sperm-donation-europe-non-anonymous-egg-donation-europe-graphic

Phenotype, here, refers to observable characteristics.

Open-ID donor demand is on the up in 2024

Non-anonymous donation, and its many benefits for children, parents and donors alike, is increasingly popular in Europe, right now.

It not only allows intended parents to decide whether to talk to their donor-conceived children about their origins or not (letting families decide what’s best for them), but it also means that the privacy of donor-conceived children is put first. The donor-conceived child can reach out if they choose to do so – open-ID donors can’t have any claims towards children born from their donation and have no rights over them.

Intended parents also get the benefit of clarity and transparency around health status, medical history, and relevant hereditary information, allowing clinics to carry out genetic and phenotype matching so that nothing is left to luck.

There’s also greater certainty over the exact number of donations per donor.

Most importantly, an open-ID donor is someone who agreed to be found, has decided to donate altruistically after receiving support and counselling, and is prepared for potential interactions with any donor-conceived children in the future.

How much does sperm and egg donation treatment cost?

In Europe, pricing and donor IVF costs vary from country to country.

IVF with egg donation in Europe

The average cost of egg donor IVF in Europe currently sits at around €6,000

Spain is one of the more expensive destinations with treatment at around €9,500, and at the other end of the spectrum, prices start at around €4,500 in the Czech Republic. 

IVF with sperm donation in Europe

The cost of using donor sperm averages out at around €800 in Europe – and that’s on top of IVF or IUI treatment costs. 

In Spain, you might be looking at an extra €1,500 for donor sperm, whereas in Portugal, costs average out at around €550 plus open-ID access to the full donor profile, on top of the cost of an IVF program.

Opting for an open-ID donor could give you much more, for the amount you’re spending – from access to detailed donor profile information and guaranteed clarity and accountability on all sides, to the ability to do genetic matching to get treatment rolling.

sperm-and-egg-donation-in-europe-hetero-couple

What freedoms do intended parents have when choosing a donor? 

As an intended parent, choosing a donor will generally depend on your personal preferences, as well as on the type of treatment you’re having.

In certain European countries (including the Czech Republic, and Spain) the process of selecting donors happens via phenotype matching – finding a donor who shares similarities in eye colour, hair colour, and skin tone with the recipient.

This limits your choices as an intended parent to donors who closely resemble you. 

In contrast, other countries like Denmark and Portugal offer you the freedom to select donors based on other important criteria, including education level, career path, personality traits, and motivation to donate.

What about same-sex couples and single women?

There are a limited number of countries that offer fertility treatment to single women or same-sex couples.

The main destinations in Europe to allow IVF treatment for female couples with the ROPA (Reception of Oocytes from Partner) method are Spain, with anonymous donors, and Portugal, with open-ID donors.

Some countries, like Ukraine and the Czech Republic, don’t offer any IVF treatments for single women.

What is double donation, and can we access treatment in Europe? 

Double donation IVF refers to the use of both donor eggs and sperm in fertility treatment.

You might be looking to opt for double donation if challenges with egg and sperm quantity or quality are part of your journey, whether that’s due to genetic factors, age-related decline, or other medical reasons.

Double donation treatment is widely available and is legal in Denmark, Portugal and most of the rest of Europe.

donor-egg-ivf-in-europe

How long are waiting times for donor IVF in Europe?

Waiting times are increasing across the board for fertility treatment in Europe in general.

It can come down to a clinic-by-clinic basis, but there are very few open-ID donor markets that have no waiting times.

Open-ID donor markets that have very low wait times include egg donation in Portugal and sperm donation in Denmark.

Getting started with donor sperm and donor egg IVF in Europe

Treatment with egg donation in Portugal

For IVF with egg donation in Europe, Portugal comes out on top. 

Their open-ID framework means you’ll be able to access detailed donor profiles which, in addition to physical traits, contain information on their education level, cognitive abilities, and personality traits – a big plus if you’re considering donor conception and looking for peace of mind.

Egg donation is guided by strong ethical and altruistic principles, and stops once a donor reaches the maximum limit of four donations, ensuring a lower chance of multiple half-siblings for future donor-conceived children.

Procriar Fertility Clinic is home to one of the largest Open-ID egg and sperm banks in Portugal, and their team are here to support you in getting started, with no wait time.

Book an initial consultation to chat through your options and connect with their donor network. 

Treatment with sperm donation in Denmark

Denmark is the home of Europe’s largest sperm banks, Cryos International and ESB, as well as high-quality care and strict protocols and procedures, including thorough testing and psychological evaluation of donors.

Anonymous and non-anonymous donors are allowed, and extensive access to detailed sperm donor profiles via open-ID is commonplace.

Maigaard Fertility Clinic has a long-standing partnership with Cryos International and ESB, and offers patients special rates and low waiting times for sperm donor IVF.

Want to get the ball rolling? Connect with the team to learn more about IVF with donor sperm, and to book in for a free initial consultation.

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