For this post, we want to provide a useful guide for anyone considering egg donation with questions about safety.
Yes, egg donation is safe. There is little to no evidence of any long-term risk for egg donors.
In fact, there are a few studies that debunk popular egg donation misconceptions, including long-term risks attached to fertility drugs. A collection of studies of over 180,000 women found no evidence of increased risk for ovarian cancer with fertility drug treatment.
Be sure to read our post on how we thoroughly screen each egg donor applicant before accepting.
Occasionally a news outlet will publish a story insinuating a correlation between egg donation and disease, often focusing on the narrative of a specific young woman who, after donating her eggs, was diagnosed with a disease of which she had no known family history.
As sad as these accounts are, they are anecdotal and do not fit in comfortably with relevant medical research. The majority of these reports conclude by admitting that the current scientific research does not support the connection between egg donation and an increased rate of disease.
Eve C. Feinberg is a reproductive endocrinologist, infertility specialist, and medical director for Northwestern Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Highland Park. After the New York Times wrote about the story of an egg donor who developed colon cancer, Feinberg wrote her own post on Rewire that highlighted the inaccuracies in the NYT story. Feinberg also provides a series studies and statistics that back up her claim: emotions can sometimes cloud the facts behind egg donation.
The vast majority of the roughly ten thousand egg donations that take place in the United States every year are successful and without complication, but due in part to the private nature of the process, most donors and intended parents remain relatively quiet about their experience. American public rarely hears about these successes.
Instead, the only time that egg donation is highlighted is when an individual feels that they have a claim against it.
This kind of media attention leads to the general public having a warped understanding of the general success and safety of the procedure.
Yes, like any medical procedure, there are “short-term risks” associated with egg donation.
Specifically, Donors have a low risk of developing ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. They may also experience temporary side effects of the medications including weight gain, bloating, headaches, and mood swings. Another short-term risk is ovarian torsion, or twisting of the ovary, which, if left untreated, can result in the need to remove the ovary entirely.
However, frequent monitoring throughout the process and developments in preventative care and treatment have largely mitigated such instances. Learn more about short-term risks here.
Educate yourself and ask questions!
Donors are encouraged to speak with the clinical staff during their screening consultation and to ask any questions that they may have throughout the process. The more a donor educates herself about any possible complications, the better equipped she will be to diminish any discomfort.
Donors are also encouraged to let their gynecologist know about their desire to be an egg donor or of their previous donations so that their primary medical provider has a more integrated understanding of their health.
Immensely! Helping another person build their family is one of the most satisfying endeavors imaginable. It is true that egg donors are compensated, but that is not even close to being the best part. Egg donors make real-life dreams possible and make a huge positive impact on the lives of others.
Egg donation is safe, and the risks are minimal compared to the reward. Donors should feel confident about their long-term health and empowered to ask questions so that the short term discomforts or complications can be mitigated. Press tempted to run sensationalist stories about supposed long-term risks of egg donation should consider a deeper dive into the relevant research and/or perhaps consider providing coverage on the thousands of families made possible by egg donors.
Now you know how safe egg donation is, check out some other popular questions about egg donation, answered in our post here.
Want to find out how to become an egg donor? Visit our webpage today.