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Donated Eggs, Sperm or Embryos: Becoming a Parent

Deciding to use donated eggs, sperm, or embryos in fertility treatment is a significant step that requires careful consideration. This blog aims to provide valuable insights into the various aspects of donor conception, covering key information and addressing common questions and concerns.


Is Donor Conception Right for You?

Choosing donor conception is a personal decision that should be approached with careful thought and consideration. Factors such as infertility, genetic risks, or being in a same-sex relationship are common reasons for considering donor conception. Seeking the advice of friends, family, or professional counselors can help you navigate your feelings and make an informed decision.


Key Facts to Consider

  1. Altruistic Donation: In the UK, donors cannot be paid for their contributions; they can only receive reimbursement for expenses. For egg donors, guidelines established by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) specify that in the UK, the maximum compensation for an egg donor is £750 per cycle. A cycle encompasses one full round of treatment, concluding with the collection and donation of eggs. This compensation of £750 includes crucial expenses such as travel costs, compensation for loss of earnings, accommodation fees, and childcare. For sperm donors, expenses are covered up to £35 per clinic visit.
  2. Clinic Safety: Opt for licensed fertility clinics to ensure donor screening for infections, diseases, and genetic disorders.
  3. Waiting Lists: Donor waiting lists can be lengthy, so it’s advisable to explore multiple clinics and inquire about waiting times.
  4. Home Insemination Risks: Using donated sperm without clinic involvement poses health risks, and legal complications may arise regarding parental rights.


Donor Selection

  1. Clinic Donors: Most secure option, ensuring health checks and support for the donor.
  2. Known Donors: Using donations from friends or relatives is possible but has limitations and may require clinic involvement.
  3. Importing Donations: Strict conditions apply when importing sperm, eggs, or embryos from abroad through licensed UK clinics.
  4. Online Donor Matching Services: Caution is advised due to potential risks and consequences of private arrangements.


Legal Considerations

Clinic Donors: Legal rights and responsibilities do not extend to donors in licensed UK fertility clinics.

Non-Clinic Arrangements: Legal complexities may arise, and consultation with a solicitor is recommended to understand parental rights.

Consent: Understanding and obtaining consent is a crucial aspect of donor conception, ensuring legal and ethical considerations are met.



Information About Donors

Clinic Donors: Physical traits, medical history, and limited personal information are available, maintaining donor anonymity.
Siblings and Multiple Children: Reserving gametes for future use may incur fees, and the UK has a limit of ten families per donor.


Children’s Rights and Information Access

At 16: Children can access limited information about the donor, similar to what the recipient receives.
At 18: Full donor information, including name and contact details, becomes accessible to the donor-conceived individual.


Exploring support networks like the Donor Conception Network and seeking counseling can aid in decision-making. Choosing a clinic, considering treatment options like intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF), and addressing any emotional concerns are essential steps forward.

Embracing the journey of donor conception requires careful planning, consideration, and informed decision-making. By understanding the key aspects discussed in this blog, individuals and couples can navigate this path with confidence, making choices that align with their personal circumstances and aspirations.

The ExSeed app includes a map showing verified fertility clinics and sperm banks around London – download it for free for Apple or Android smartphones and tablets here.

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More to explore


Wearing tight pants and underwear

Studies show that men who wear looser underwear have higher sperm concentration and total sperm count compared to men who wear tighter underwear. So, lose the tight clothes and wear something loose to give your testicles some air.

CONCLUSION: learn more about how heat can affect sperm quality here.


Besides higher mortality rate and various diseases, stress is associated with low sperm quality. Stress is known to be associated with lower testosterone levels and oxidative stress with both playing an essential role in producing and maintaining healthy sperm cells.

CONCLUSION: If you feel stressed, we recommend you get some help so you can have a balanced mental health. For a stress management guide, download the ExSeed app for free and start your personalized action plan today.

Physical activity

Scientific studies show that men who are physically active have better semen parameters than men who are inactive. Fertility specialists also state that regular physical activity has beneficial impact on sperm fertility parameters and such a lifestyle can enhance the fertility status of men.

Prioritizing exercise can help improve your overall health and result in healthy, fast swimming sperm cells that have good chances of fertilizing an egg.

CONCLUSION: Try incorporating exercise in your weekly schedule to you ensure exercising at least twice weekly. We recommend a combination of cardio training and strength exercise. Read more about exercise and male fertility on our blog.


Fast Food
Processed foods damage the health of sperm-producing cells and cause oxidative stress, which lead to poorer sperm quality. Heavy consumption of junk food (every week) can increase the likelihood of infertility since men who consume vast amounts of unhealthy food are at risk of having poor sperm quality. Besides harming your fertility, junk food enlarges your waistline, harms your cardiovascular system, kidneys, and more.

Eating more fruit and vegetables can increase your sperm concentration and motility. It’s important that you consume a healthy diet filled with antioxidants and that you eat vegetables every day. Foods such as apricots and red bell peppers are high in vitamin A, which improves male fertility by nurturing healthier sperm. Men who are deficient in this vitamin tend to have slow and sluggish sperm.

Sugary snacks/beverages: several times a week Excessive consumption of high sugar items can lead to oxidative stress, which negatively impacts testosterone levels and sperm motility. Sugary snacks and beverages are also highly associated with obesity and low fertility.
CONCLUSION: To boost sperm quality, stay away from fast food, processed food, and sugary snacks or beverages. You need to implement a healthy prudent diet filled with necessary superfoods needed for good sperm production. Check out our guide to Male Fertility Superfoods. For personalized guidance and support on how you can start improving your sperm health, check out the Bootcamp.


Direct heat can inhibit optimal sperm production and cause Sperm DNA damage. Sperm cells like environments that are a couple of degrees lower than body temperature. Avoid overheating from warm blankets, seat warmers, heat from your laptop, hot showers, and saunas.

Cigarette smoking

The exposure to tobacco smoke has significant negative effects on semen quality. The damage of cigarettes and nicotine of course depends on how many cigarettes you smoke per day and for how long, but even low usage (up to 10 cigarettes / day) can inhibit healthy sperm production.  

CONCLUSION: Stay as far away from cigarette smoking as possible if you care about your general health and your fertility. Read more here.

Cell phone

When you have your cell phone in your front pocket, your testicles are exposed to electromagnetic radiation, which studies have shown to damage the sperm cells. Put your phone in the back pocket of your pants or in your jacket pocket.


There is a clear association between obesity and reduced sperm quality. At least part of the reason for this is that obese men may have abnormal reproductive hormonal profiles, which can impair sperm production and lead to infertility. 

A BMI higher than 30 can lead to several processes in the body (overheating, increase in oxidative stress in the testes, sperm DNA damage, erectile dysfunction) that can have a negative impact on male fertility. This can result in problems when trying to conceive.  

CONCLUSION: BMI is one of the risk factors that influence semen quality and, for example, sperm motility.  


A beer or glass of wine now and then do not really harm sperm quality. But excess alcohol drinking (more than 20 units per week) can reduce the production of normally formed sperm needed for a successful pregnancy.

CONCLUSION: If you want to stay safe, stay under 14 units of alcohol per week. For more information on how alcohol can affect male fertility, take a look at our blog: “Alcohol and Sperm Quality”.


Studies show that women younger than 35 and men younger than 40 have a better chance of getting pregnant. Men can produce sperm cells almost through their entire life, but the sperm cell DNA is more fragile and prone to damage after the age of 40.

As men age, their testes tend to get smaller and softer resulting in a decline in sperm quality and production. These changes are partly because of an age-related decrease in testosterone level, which plays a very important role in sperm

production. Higher male age (>40 years) is not only associated with a decline in sperm production but also with increased sperm DNA fragmentation and worsened morphology (shape) and motility (movement). These negative effects make the sperm cells less qualified for egg fertilization.

CONCLUSION: with an age under 40, you shouldn’t have to worry much about age as a factor in itself. However, studies have shown a slow decline after the age of 30-35 years

and if you are above 40 years of age, your sperm quality can be affected due to increased sperm DNA damage resulting in a decrease of sperm motility and concentration. Remember that you cannot evaluate the quality of a sperm sample by just looking at it – this requires a sperm analysis.