Donor Conception

Sperm & egg donation UK specifics, expert Q&A

Jessie Day, in partnership with TFP Fertility UK  |  21 Dec 2022


There’s lots of information – and some misinformation – about sperm and egg donation online, so it’s best to talk to the experts. TFP Fertility UK offers both intended parents and donors the UK-specific expert guidance they need.

We asked TFP Fertility UK your most pressing FAQs about sperm and egg donation, covering everything from the legals to selecting your donor. If you’re considering sperm or egg donation, this is the 101 on getting started.

Ready to hit go with sperm or egg donation? Connect with TFP Fertility UK for first steps and tailored support and care.

UK Sperm Donation FAQs

1. Can I use UK-based sperm banks, or do most people go abroad?

There are plenty of sperm banks to choose from, including the London Sperm Bank and Semovo, plus a lot of private clinics have their own in-house donor conception programmes.

A lot of patients choose to utilise the European Sperm Bank (ESB), Xytex or Denmark-based Cryos International, which do tend to have a larger selection of donors readily available.

TFP Fertility UK clinics have their own sperm bank (TFP Fertility UK central bank) which gives patients across the country access to their services.

Sperm-donation-sperm-donor-TFP-Fertility-UK

2. What is the sperm donor process in the UK with TFP Fertility UK?

Let’s get our head round anonymity laws – it’s not as complex as it seems.

  • How anonymous are UK donors?

UK anonymity laws state that any child resulting from donor gametes has the right to receive information about their donor. At the age of 16, they can access non-identifying information such as profession, age and a goodwill message (if applicable). At 18, they can access identifying information such as full name and address. 

  • Do UK donors have a responsibility to any future children?

The donor has no financial or legal obligation to the child but must be fully aware that contact in future is a potential outcome of their donation. It won’t necessarily happen, but it’s something to keep in mind.

  • Are EU donors anonymous?

In most of Europe, anonymous donation is still legal, meaning the child would not be able to contact the donor in future.

  • What about online genetic screening?

With the rise of genetic screening sites like 23AndMe, direct to consumer testing is likely to make anonymous donations an obsolete concept.

  • How long until sperm is made available?

Donors must undergo a thorough screening process of minimum 3 months. Due to differing laws regarding donor anonymity, the donor must have consented to use within the UK. Following approval, it usually takes 4-8 weeks, and then there’s a lot of paperwork to go through. TFP Fertility UK will not start any treatment cycle until the donor sperm is on site. This is to avoid any false starts should there be any hold up with shipping or unexpected delays. 

  • Can TFP fertility UK help me find a sperm donor?
    You’ll be able to use their sperm bank, or they’ll be able to help you choose a sperm donor from other reputable sources. All of their donors are fit and healthy individuals who have met strict qualifying criteria in order to donate. They must also share their full medical history, as well as those of their immediate biological family members. A number of screening tests are also carried out to ensure that the donor won’t pass any illnesses or infections to mother or baby.

3. What are the sperm donor requirements in the UK?

All TFP Fertility UK sperm donors must meet the following criteria:

  • Aged 18-46 (final donation must take place prior to their 46th birthday). 
  • BMI <35. 
  • Non-smoker and not using any nicotine replacement therapy. 
  • Generally fit and well. 
  • Able to provide full and detailed personal and familial medical and genetic history. 
  • Be willing to undertake comprehensive screening tests. 

The only strict criteria is the age limit which is set by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) whilst the rest is clinic specific and based on experience. 

4. How much does sperm donation cost in the UK? Is it free?

Sperm donors cannot be paid for their donation as it is seen as an altruistic act. They can be reimbursed for travel expenses and may be asked to provide receipts to verify this. 

TFP Fertility UK offers donors £35 for travel costs per visit to the clinic, up to a maximum of £750 (limit set by HFEA). 

The costs associated with recruiting a donor and freezing and preparing the samples for patient use are then covered in the cost of purchase. 

5. What is the 10 family limit?

Each UK donor can only consent to creating a maximum of 10 families through their donation. This means that at any one time, a maximum of 10 patients can have that donor’s sperm in their possession.

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6. Any tips on choosing a sperm donor?

Now for the interesting part: choosing a donor. In the UK, intended parents are given lots of information before making this big decision.

  • Donor characteristics – including physical attributes and medical history.
  • Sperm quality – it’s important to select a donor with sperm that is suitable for the type of treatment you intend to undertake – TFP Fertility UK will be able to guide you on this. 
  • Cost – consider your budget when choosing your donor. TFP Fertility UK can help you make the right fertility price plan for your needs.

7. Where can I find my nearest TFP Fertility clinic?

At TFP Fertility UK, we have 8 flagship clinics with associated satellites dotted around the UK, all with their own bank and access to the TFP Fertility UK central bank when it launches in January. 

Our locations are: Belfast, Chelmsford, Glasgow, London, Maidenhead, Nottingham, Oxford and Southampton. 

You can find your nearest clinic by entering your postcode on our website: your nearest TFP Fertility UK clinic.

8. What else should I know about IVF with donor sperm?

The donor has the right to withdraw their consent at any stage up to the point the straw has been used for IUI or the embryo transfer has taken place. 

In other words, should the donor change their mind and contact the clinic to advise of this, they can prevent the use of any embryos created using their sperm that may be in storage. This rarely happens but it is important to be aware this is a possibility. 

Fertility Help

9. What are your rights as an intended parent?

Depending on your relationship status, you will need to sign specific consent forms to allow your partner (if applicable) to be named on the birth certificate when using donor sperm. These will vary if you are co-habiting or in a civil partnership or married.  

The donor will not have any parental responsibility for a child born as a result of donation, except for in the case of onward embryo donation to a single parent (this is rare and will be discussed with the donor prior to their donation).

10. Sperm donation in Scotland, Wales and NI – are there any differences?

The whole of the UK, including NI, is governed by HFEA so all clinics must conform to the same regulations set out by them. This means the rules for donors and utilising donor sperm are the same across the UK. This means if your donor is from one region and you are from another, there should be little to no issue with compliance across the UK.

Having multiple clinics across the UK, TFP Fertility UK utilises the same regulations for all of their donors and implements the same protocols regardless of location.

Fertility Help

UK Egg Donation FAQs

1. How does egg donation work in the UK?

Egg donation works in much the same way as sperm donation but the process of obtaining eggs is much more invasive and requires more on the part of the donor.

An egg donor is required to take medication to maximise the yield of eggs produced in their cycle, then undergo a surgical procedure to retrieve the eggs. Given the cost of medications and the invasive procedure required, receiving donor eggs tends to be a more costly process.  

The anonymity laws and 10 family limit are still applicable for egg donors in exactly the same way as sperm donors. 

The difference with donor eggs over donor sperm is that it is possible to have a fresh donor egg cycle, in which both the donor and recipient come through for treatment at the same time and the eggs collected from the donor are fertilised and a fresh embryo is transferred to the recipient, bypassing the quarantine period for their first transfer.

2. What is the egg donor process in the UK with TFP Fertility UK?

At present, the demand for donor eggs drastically outweighs the supply, so waiting lists can be lengthy. This is due in part to the fact you are only able to undergo treatment with your own eggs up to the age of 46 but can use donor eggs up to the age of 55. With many women choosing to delay starting a family until later in life as well as the thought of using donor eggs becoming less taboo, the demand has increased dramatically in recent years. 

Here at TFP Fertility UK we have our own in-house egg donation programmes and waiting list times will vary.

3. How does payment for donated eggs work in the UK?

Egg donors cannot be paid for their donation – as with sperm donors, it is seen as an act of altruism. They are offered £750 total reimbursement to cover their travel expenses whilst having treatment. 

For the recipient, treatment with donor eggs tends to be more costly as the cost of treatment has to include the donor’s treatment and medication. 

4. What are the egg donor requirements in the UK?

As with sperm donation, the only strict rules placed on donation are the age limits. The rest of the criteria is set by individual clinics and are based on their experience of what works well.

The HFEA limits for egg donation are 18-35 (i.e. egg collection taking place before the 36th birthday) however, the TFP Fertility UK age limits for altruistic donation are set at 21-35.

All egg donors must meet the following criteria: 

  • Aged 18-35 (egg collection must take place prior to their 36th birthday). 
  • BMI <35. 
  • Non-smoker and not using any nicotine replacement therapy. 
  • Generally fit and well. 
  • Able to provide full and detailed personal and familial medical and genetic history. 
  • Be willing to undertake comprehensive screening tests. 
Fertility Help

5. Is there an egg donation UK age limit?

The quality of eggs is proven to decrease dramatically after the age of 36, therefore it is stipulated by HFEA that all donors must be under the age of 36 at the time of donation. 

HFEA will allow a donor over the set age limit if it can be argued that exceptional circumstances apply, for example, if using a donor over 35 would allow a genetic sibling. In these instances, the recipient must be fully aware of the chances of reduced egg quality and increased risk of genetic abnormalities associated. 

6. Is egg donation safe?

Absolutely. As with any surgical procedure, there are always risks associated, but at TFP Fertility UK the expertise of our clinicians and bespoke treatment plans ensure that these risks are minimised. While you may experience some discomfort and side effects leading up to egg collection and post-operatively, the benefits of donation are tenfold; egg donation allows patients to achieve successful pregnancies resulting in healthy babies that they may not otherwise have been able to have using their own eggs. 

Prospective donors tend to ask about the impact of donation on their own fertility. Given that we stimulate the ovaries to mature eggs that would otherwise not have developed fully and be lost when only one egg matures, there is little to no impact to their ovarian reserve and future fertility. 

All donors are subject to rigorous screening as well as a thorough medical history prior to donation. Here at TFP Fertility UK we also actively encourage all donors to have counselling prior to treatment to assess that the decision to donate is right for them and that they understand the implications. 

7. How many times can you donate eggs in the UK?

As with sperm donors, egg donors can continue donation until the 10 family limit is reached. At TFP Fertility UK, we require that egg donor cases are reviewed on a case-by-case basis after their third cycle of donation.

We carry out follow-up consultations, repeat testing to determine their ovarian reserve and recommend counselling with each cycle to ensure they are fit to continue.  

getting-support-donor-TFP-Fertility-UK

8. Can I work with a private egg donor when having treatment with TFP Fertility UK?

You can certainly recruit your own donor, referred to as a known donor, to come through for treatment. This is usually a friend or family member, but this is not a prerequisite. Using a known donor means you will not have to wait on any waiting list to commence treatment and can come through as soon as you are ready. It also means you will have the option of a fresh or frozen embryo transfer.

9. What else should I know about IVF with donor eggs?

The donor has the right to withdraw their consent at any stage up to the point an embryo transfer has taken place. In other words, should the donor change their mind and contact the clinic to advise of this, they can prevent the use of any embryos created using their eggs that may be in storage. This rarely happens but it is important to be aware this is a possibility. 

10. Egg donation in Scotland, Wales and NI – are there any differences?

The whole of the UK, including NI, is governed by HFEA so all clinics must conform to the same regulations set out by them. This means the rules for donors and utilising donor eggs are the same across the UK. Therefore, if your donor is from one region and you are from another, there should be little to no issue with compliance across the UK.

TFP Fertility UK have several clinic locations across the UK and apply the same regulations in all of them.

Looking to start a sperm or egg donation journey? Book a consultation with TFP Fertility UK to discuss your options and next steps.

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