Choosing to donate eggs is a selfless act; the rigorous screening, medical testing and strict treatment protocol require patience and commitment. If you’re considering egg donation, you’ve no doubt done plenty of research about the process and the requirements. If the medical implication of donating your eggs gives you pause, read on; we’re exploring the facts behind the potential risks of egg donation.
Yes. There is virtually no evidence indicating long-term risk for a woman who donates her eggs. Several studies actually prove egg donation misconceptions to be incorrect, such as potential long-term risk for ovarian cancer related to fertility drugs. Some of the medications an egg donor can expect to take include:
Lupron – Also known as Leuprolide Acetate. It is used to control female hormone levels and prevent the release of eggs. Research shows Lupron is harmless to humans and leaves the body hours after discontinued usage.
Ganirelix acetate or Cetrotide – Also known as GNRH Antagonist, it may be used as a substitute for Lupron to prevent eggs from maturing and releasing.
Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH or Gonadotropins) – Also known as Gonal F, Bravelle, Follistim, Menopur, or Repronex. FSH is the same hormone in a female body used to mature her eggs during the menstrual cycle.
Just like any medical procedure or use of medication, there are inherent risks. Preventative care and treatment are constantly evolving, though, which minimizes those short-term risks. Thorough education and regular monitoring at the fertility clinic during the medication cycle also help prevent potential complications.
Some women find that they don’t experience any side effects during the process. Others note minor side effects from the medication, such as headaches, mood swings, bloating, and temporary weight gain.
There is a low risk of a donor developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This happens when the body over responds to FSH, causing enlarged ovaries. While IVF clinics are extremely careful with medication protocol to avoid this condition (it only affects 1-5% of IVF cases) it can be treated with a procedure to drain the excess fluid from the ovaries. For this reason, egg donors must take care to follow instructions precisely and avoid strenuous activity while they are cycling to protect their ovaries from twisting or tearing.
There may be some temporary discomfort from things like blood drawing and injections, but most women find this to be very manageable. The egg retrieval itself is performed under twilight sedation, so the actual procedure via guided vaginal ultrasound is painless. Some women experience cramping afterward, but this typically subsides within a few days. More serious conditions like bleeding, infection or bowel discomfort are rare, but may require additional treatment.
Many former donors go on to successfully have families of their own. Again, there is an inherent risk with any process that impacts your reproductive system, but there is no evidence suggesting that infertility is a direct result of egg donation. A woman in her twenties has thousands of available eggs, so there is no risk that she will “run out” from donating.
Knowing the potential risks is an important part of being an egg donor. It’s imperative to do your research and ask plenty of questions as you’re considering egg donation to determine if it’s the right choice for you at this time in your life. Being informed will inevitably help the process go more smoothly for you, and our team is here to support you every step of the way.
All Things Conceivable is a blog dedicated to sharing the knowledge and expert opinions of the dedicated team at ConceiveAbilities, a Chicago-based egg donation and surrogacy agency.