Like any other medical procedure, there are risks involved with egg donation, and it is important for you to understand those risks. Below we have grouped egg donation risks into five categories.
1. Medications prescribed throughout the egg donation cycle, including birth control, antibiotics, pain relievers, and fertility medication.
Birth control: birth control pills may increase the risk of a stroke or a cardiac event, especially in patients who smoke, who have elevated blood pressure, or who have a personal or family history of clotting disorders.
Antibiotics: antibiotics may cause an allergic reaction, resulting in skin rash, hives, or itching; breathing problems such as wheezing or feeling dizzy or lightheaded; and in some cases, anaphylaxis, a serious, potentially life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention.
Pain relievers: pain relievers may cause constipation, drowsiness, nausea, or vomiting; and in some cases, may cause anaphylaxis, a serious, potentially life-threatening condition requiring immediate medical attention may be experienced. Use of certain opioid-derived pain relievers are linked to dependence, which can lead to addiction. Opioid overdose may result in death.
Fertility medication: fertility medication may cause bloating, mood swings, nausea, headaches, hot flashes, and weight gain. They may also cause a condition called ovarian hyperstimulation, discussed below in #4.
Click HERE to read a separate article about egg donor medications and side effects.
2. Monitoring visits during an egg donation cycle, including periodic blood draws and transvaginal ultrasounds.
Venipuncture (blood draw): mild discomfort and some risk of developing a bruise at the needle site, as well as risk of uncontrollable bleeding for patients with blood-clotting disorders. Nerve injury may result, due to nerve compression injuries or nerve puncture injuries.
Transvaginal ultrasounds: mild discomfort, potential allergic reaction to water-soluble gel or to vaginal probe sheathing (covering).
3. The egg retrieval procedure, including surgery and anesthesia.
Ultrasound-guided egg retrieval procedure: during follicle aspiration, the aspirating needle used during egg retrieval may damage or puncture the nearby pelvic organs, including the bowel or bladder, or may puncture nearby blood vessels, causing internal bleeding or damage to pelvic organs.
Anesthesia: following egg retrieval, upon walking, an egg donor may experience short-term dizziness or a lack of coordination, nausea and vomiting, and may have short-term memory loss for the few hours after departing from the fertility center; allergic reaction to medication used during anesthesia may occur.
4. Recovery following the egg retrieval procedure, including OHSS, ovarian torsion, and pregnancy.
Ovarian hyperstimulation (OHSS): enlargement of the ovaries leading to ovarian hyper stimulation as a result of a fluid shift due to capillary permeability, causing significant bloating and abdominal swelling; reduced urine output and shortness of breath due to fluid accumulation; significant weight gain; and in rare cases, these symptoms may require hospitalization for treatment; blood clots, pulmonary embolism, and acute renal failure are risks associated with the most significant cases of OHSS.
Click HERE to read our article about learn about the details of Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome.
Ovarian torsion: twisting of an enlarged ovary on itself, resulting in sudden onset of severe abdominal pain due to a loss in blood supply.
Pregnancy: not all eggs developed will be retrieved, and as a result, there is a risk you may become pregnant if you participate in unprotected intercourse during the egg donation cycle or shortly thereafter.
5. Emotional distress following discovery of previously unknown medical information, as well as regret.
Emotional distress: emotional and psychological distress following medical information discovered during egg donor screening.
Regret: while there are no long-term studies following the thoughts and feelings of egg donors through the years following an egg donation cycle, it’s not unexpected that an egg donor could have feelings of regret over the decision to donate.
Overall, the egg donation process carries certain risks. Before registering to become an egg donor, we ask you to educate and empower yourself on these egg donation risks and the consequences of egg donation. Further, we ask you to research and understand the various steps involved in the egg donation process. Finally, we ask you to consider your motivations carefully before becoming an egg donor.
Disclaimer: The content provided above is not intended for, nor should it be used as, a substitute for professional medical advice. It should not replace a conversation you have directly with your medical team. Prior to beginning an egg donation cycle, we strongly encourage you discuss the potential egg donation risks with your medical team.