Egg donation is a wonderful way to help a woman or couple trying to have children. Donating the healthiest eggs possible is really important, as it gives recipients the best chances for pregnancy.

If you’re a smoker who would like to donate some eggs, this page outlines the effects of smoking on eggs, and how you can proceed, if you are committed to helping someone in this truly special way.

Does smoking affect egg quality?

The short answer is yes. When you smoke, nicotine collects in the follicular fluid that bathes the egg. As a result, the egg wall gets thicker to protect itself against the toxins, making it hard for the sperm to penetrate the wall to fertilise the egg. 

In other words, the toxins in cigarette smoke and electronic cigarettes can jeopardise the quality of eggs and as a consequence decrease the success rate of fertilisation, which is so important to the woman or couple you would be matched with.

Do electronic cigarettes affect egg quality?

Yes, as electronic cigarettes still contain nicotine.

Can I donate eggs if I smoke?

Yes, you would be able to donate eggs if you were willing to quit completely for around 6 months. This is the amount of time smoke-free that clinics require. If you were to stop today, we’d need 3 months without smoking before we could begin the process, and then it takes approximately another 3 to take you to the point of egg collection.

We do ask that only donors that are really serious about stopping to smoke continue their journey to becoming a donor. Recipients have often struggled to conceive for years, and it’s really important to give them the very best chance for a baby. There is nothing worse than going through the donation process only to find that eggs have not fertilised at the end of all your hard work.

Clinics can also tell if a donor resumes smoking or using electronic cigarettes with blood tests, and may stop the donation process mid-cycle as a result. This is disappointing to the donor and devastating for the recipients waiting. 

Young happy woman with broken cigarette. Stop smoking concept. Egg donation

Thinking about quitting?

If you’re thinking about quitting anyway, preparing to donate eggs could be a really powerful incentive. If this is on your mind, the following NHS resources can help you on your journey: