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Egg donation risks and side effects

Updated on May 20, 2016

Whether egg donation has any dangerous risks and side effects or not is yet to be proved or documented. There are some minor side effects, though. That's why those who wants to donate their eggs need to know the side effects and risks involved in the process.

What is egg donation?

It refers to the process of collecting eggs (oocytes) from the ovum of a female (donor) and then transferred to other women (recipient) womb (uterus) after fertilization by a sperm. This is a new technology. A couple or a single male who wants to have a baby but unable to carry a pregnancy usually look for donated egg. As the technology is few decades old, no long term side effects could be documented.

Some facts about egg donation:

When egg donation first started, the donors were the infertile women who agreed to donate their eggs. As the time passed, the fertile women began to give their eggs. Now even a female with no baby of her own, even unmarried are coming forward for donating eggs. Most of them don't realize the possible after effects. Is it a good sign or bad sign?

Some donate their eggs for nearer ones; some donate for money ($4000-$10000). Before collecting eggs, the infertility centers discuss the probable egg donation risks and side effects with the donors, take psychological tests. But can they clearly portray the real situation the donors might face?

Egg donation risks and side effects:

Risks and side effects related egg donation are there. We can divide these into two types. One is physical, and another is psychological. And psychological one is huge. Believe me; I might not experience this, but I've seen donors and the picture are really depressive. It's true that the infertility centers will want to show it lightly, but it's not that simple.

Now physical risks and side effects again can be divided into two types. Short term effects and long term effects.

Physical risks and side effects of Egg donation:

A) Short term effects:

i) Risks and side effects of egg donation due to drugs:

The egg donation process takes about few months to complete. After the selection process is completed, initially the donor is being injected a hormone to suppress the release of her reproductive hormones. Then when donor's and recipient's menstrual cycles come into synchrony, then induction of ovulation is done. During this hormonal treatment period, a donor may experience cramps, bloating, headache, nausea, etc. Regardless to say that stinging pain of the regular injection is there.

During ovulation induction, hyperstimulation of ovary may occur. It's known as Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). Here it may be manifested as from simple bloating to renal failure and even may lead to death. It occurs in 1 in 10 females undergoing infertility treatment by ovarian stimulation. So donors might be at risk of developing OHSS which sometimes need hospitalization. I received a couple of patients in our ICU within six months time who developed renal failure and respiratory distress. Fortunately, both of them are now fine with getting hospitalized treatment for a week.

Risk factors involved in OHSS:

  1. Shot of human chorionic gonadotropin injection after ovulation
  2. Age of donor over 35
  3. Polycystic ovarian syndrome
  4. High estrogen level during the procedure

ii) Risks and side effects during egg collection:

Risks are mainly like the risks related to any surgical procedure. For example, bleeding, infection, abscess formation, etc. As the egg collection process is a per-vaginal approach, it might cause injury to the uterus, urinary bladder, bowel, blood vessel, pelvic organ, etc.

B) Long term effects:

As these procedures are relatively new, there are no long-term effects documented. Future pregnancy issue for the donor is yet under evaluation. Until we have a conclusive result with adequate data, a risk regarding future infertility following egg donation remains. Available data reveals almost no infertility issue related to egg donation. But this is not sufficient as most of the donors don't come for follow-up.

Psychological risks and side effects of egg donation:

Psychological risks side effects are tough to explain for those who had no experience or no chance of having any experience, like me. But seeing the persons who donated eggs or who are going through the process, it can easily be mentioned that it's not a pleasant experience. And I believe, it can't be overcome so easily either.

After donation, donor usually gets anxious about her genetic child. This anxiety is inevitable in most of the cases I think. And it's one of the most undesirable side effects besides physical ones. Coping with this needs experts help. Most of the donors can't feel it before donating it.

All the egg donation risks and side effects should be thoroughly discussed with the donor. This discussion should not be confined with just giving some documents, assessing with questionnaire by a psychiatrist. Because this formal discussion is not sufficient for the donor to understand the risks and side effects related to egg donation. So who wants to donate their eggs should thoroughly go for all the egg donation risks and side effects before going for it.


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    • drsohel profile image

      drsohel 5 years ago from Dhaka, BD

      I'm glad that it gave you a new information... Sorry for late response... I was stuck with some family and social affairs.

    • zionsphere profile image

      zionsphere 5 years ago from Oregon

      Wow. I had no idea that people could suffer renal falure from this. Thank you for sharing!

    • drsohel profile image

      drsohel 5 years ago from Dhaka, BD

      Thanks for your support.

    • Patty Kenyon profile image

      Patty Kenyon 5 years ago from Ledyard, Connecticut

      Interesting Information!! Thanks for sharing!!