Background. To date there are few attitudinal studies of women's experiences of egg donation, motivation to donate or their thoughts about eggs donated. Studies are predominantly discussed in terms of a specific treatment option and the ethical implications of different treatments. These studies are mainly designed by professionals working in assisted reproductive technology in line with a clinical agenda.
Aim. This study aimed to explore the beliefs and experiences of potential egg share donors using an interpretative phenomenological methodology to equip health care practitioners to deal better with patients’ needs and desires.
Method. Open-ended interviews were conducted immediately following introductory consultations with 11 potential egg share donors from one fertility centre in the United Kingdom (UK). The sample was opportunistic. Data collection took 8 months and van Manen's interpretative phenomenological method was used.
Findings. Analysis revealed six themes of egg sharing: motherhood (the predominant theme within which all other themes could be subsumed), context, doubt, coping, exchange and empathy. Themes illustrated women's continuation with the scheme despite fears about giving away eggs, the parenting skills of recipient couples and future repercussions of positive outcomes for donor and recipient.
Conclusions. Egg sharing could be seen as a marker of hope. Buoyed up by the possibility of a successful outcome, women are prepared to undertake repetitive treatment attempts despite continued failure to conceive and knowledge of a slim chance of a positive outcome. Implications for practice, policy and ethics result in recommendations for more in-depth interview work by independent researchers to gain a clearer picture of women's responses to reproductive technologies and the development of services in line with patient need and individual expectation.