Women being ‘bribed’ by IVF clinics with free egg-freezing service

Women being ‘bribed’ by IVF clinics with free egg-freezing service worth almost £10,000 if they give away half of their eggs to someone else

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Women are being ‘bribed’ by IVF clinics offering egg-freezing for free – if they give away eggs to a stranger.

Growing numbers of women are opting for egg-freezing, which many see as an insurance policy to help them have a child when they meet the right partner.

But it can cost almost £10,000 to freeze and store eggs, making cheaper deals extremely tempting.


Giving women free egg-freezing if they share their eggs is legal so long as they are not paid. IVF clinics are banned from paying egg donors outright but can discount treatment or offer up to £750 per cycle in compensation so women are not left out of pocket [File photo]

London Women’s Clinic and Herts & Essex Fertility Centre offer egg-freezing for free to women who donate half their eggs. It means their first biological child could be born to another woman years before they start their own family.

While many women never return to thaw their eggs, conceiving naturally, for others IVF using the eggs may not work, or they run out of time to use them. Ten years is the standard storage limit.

These childless women then face the prospect of a knock on their door from biological offspring they have never met, as their name and last-known address can be released to those children at the age of 18.


The eggs are often given to women around a decade older, who are menopausal so have no eggs left or who do not have good-quality eggs for fertility treatment. They pay the clinic up to £7,500 per IVF cycle to use donated eggs [File photo]

Patricia Morgan, a sociologist at the University of Buckingham, said: ‘This sounds like bribing women to freeze their eggs, in a very capitalist marketing ploy which does not take into account long-term consequences.

‘People need to be aware of the kinds of dilemma this will create, such as women wondering if someone else has got pregnant with their frozen eggs and where in the world their children are.’

Professor Susan Bewley, of King’s College London, said: ‘Women should look the gift horse in the mouth carefully, not least because egg-freezing carries harms like over-stimulation of the ovaries.’

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British singer Rita Ora has spoken about freezing her eggs, and the number of egg-freezing cycles done by British women has more than quadrupled since 2010.

But women who share eggs have no automatic right to find out when a child is born to someone else using those eggs. 

They can request information from the clinic or ask the fertility regulator only for the number of children born, their sex and year of birth.

The eggs are often given to women around a decade older, who are menopausal so have no eggs left or who do not have good-quality eggs for fertility treatment. They pay the clinic up to £7,500 per IVF cycle to use donated eggs.

Two years ago the Daily Mail exposed private firms offering discounted and free IVF if women agreed to give away half their eggs. 

IVF pioneer Lord Robert Winston said then that he was ‘ashamed’ of the industry.


Women are being ‘bribed’ by IVF clinics offering egg-freezing for free – if they give away eggs to a stranger. Growing numbers of women are opting for egg-freezing, which many see as an insurance policy to help them have a child when they meet the right partner [File photo]

But London Women’s Clinic now has a ‘freeze and share’ programme which offers a free egg-freezing cycle plus two years storage for women donating half their eggs. 

Herts & Essex Fertility Centre offers free egg-freezing and storage for three months for women who do the same thing.

The average woman produces more than six eggs per egg-freezing cycle, of which three would be shared. 

Giving women free egg-freezing if they share their eggs is legal so long as they are not paid.

IVF clinics are banned from paying egg donors outright but can discount treatment or offer up to £750 per cycle in compensation so women are not left out of pocket.

Herts & Essex Fertility Centre only allows healthy women who are under 32, not obese and have good fertility test results to share eggs. Counselling is mandatory. London Women’s Clinic allows women up to 35, who are not obese, have normal fertility and do not smoke to share eggs. 

It charges up to £9,500 for three egg-freezing cycles and two years storage as well as scans and advice.

Dr Kamal Ahuja, managing director of London Women’s Clinic, said: ‘Numerous published studies have shown women are not disadvantaged, nor do they later regret sharing their eggs.’

David Ogutu, medical director of Herts & Essex Fertility Centre, said: ‘We would only discuss and engage patients towards donation if they contact us seeking further information with the willingness to donate or share their eggs.’

A spokesman for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority said: ‘Egg-sharing is lawful and can allow more women to have fertility treatment.’

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