Is the Egg Donation Process Safe?
It’s hard to believe that just a decade ago, the egg donation process was rarely spoken about – and even less understood. Now, thousands of egg donation cycles happen each year, and as the need for egg donors grows, so too does the frequency of questions: exactly what is egg donation? How does egg donation work?
Perhaps the unspoken question there would really be: is the egg donation process safe? Many people are curious about egg donor medication and if it can cause long-term problems. While it has proven to be safe, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what is involved in the egg donation screening process and subsequent IVF cycle to help decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Egg donor medication
The following medications may be part of a donor’s protocol to complete a successful retrieval:
Lupron (Leuprolide Acetate) – One injection a day for 12 days followed by one injection a day with gonadotropin therapy for 22 days. Lupron is shown to be harmless to humans and leaves the body after usage.
Ganirelix acetate/Cetrotide/GnRH Antagonist – One injection per day every three days, taken with gonadotropin therapy after 4-5 days. It may also act as a substitute for Lupron.
Follicle Stimulating Hormones (FSH or Gonadotropins) – One injection per day for ten days. Some side effects of FSH include headaches, fatigue, bloating or moodiness, but there are no reports of long-term problems. While extremely rare, in about 1-2% of IVF cases the body over-responds in what is known as ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS). This is an enlargement of the ovaries that may be treated through an outpatient procedure to drain excess fluid, and in rare cases may require hospitalization.
Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) – This “trigger shot” is taken 36 hours prior to retrieval to mature the eggs. Side effects may include bloating, headache, moodiness or fatigue but with no long-term issues.
Egg donation risks
While egg donation and egg donor medications are proven to be safe, there is always a risk of complications with any medical procedure. It’s important to educate yourself in order to make the best decision for you.
Medication side effects– Some women do experience short-term side effects from the egg donor medication, including fatigue, bloating and moodiness. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome is a risk as well but is very treatable.
Antibiotics – These may be used to prevent infection, and some women find they have an allergic reaction.
Pregnancy – Because the medication is used to enhance fertility, it is highly possible to become pregnant after the egg retrieval if a donor has unprotected intercourse.
Egg retrieval – While it’s generally mild, some donors feel discomfort after the ultrasound-guided retrieval process. More serious conditions, including bleeding, infection, and bowel damage have also been reported.
If you’ve done your research and are comfortable with both the risks and the rewards, congratulations – you’re ready to become an egg donor!