When a woman chooses to donate her eggs to an infertile couple, she should know that there might be some health risks associated with this process. We will examine the possible side effects that could be experienced by the egg donor.
Some common side effects related to the medications used to produce extra eggs:
• Hot Flashes
• Vaginal Dryness
• Breast Tenderness
• Body Aches
• Problems Related to Sleep
• Mood Swings
• Respiratory Issues
• Problems with Vision
In extreme cases, she could suffer renal/liver failure.
If not all the mature eggs are collected during the egg retrieval procedure or the eggs release prior to the egg retrieval procedure, pregnancy can occur with unprotected intercourse. This could result in an unexpected and probably unwanted pregnancy.
Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome a.k.a. OHSS is another side effect of this procedure. If this condition occurs, it will generally dissipate on its own. However, there are a few extremely rare cases of OHSS that have become severe enough to be life threatening.
There are complications that can occur, such as bleeding and/or infection, that could reduce the donor’s chances of becoming pregnant.
The Assisted Reproductive Technologies Textbook by Jansen and Tucker cited that the risk of OHSS varies depending on the clinic that is administering the hormones, from 6.6% to 8.4% of cycles with half of them considered severe.
Unfortunately, the long-term impact on egg donors has not been fully studied. Apparently, there is some evidence suggesting that egg donors can have an increased risk of ovarian cancer and negative effects on fertility.
One out of five women has reported psychological effects because they donated their eggs. These effects have been good and bad. It is important to note that two-thirds of the women who donated their eggs are happy they did.
According to this study, 20% of women did not recall knowing there were any risks to them physically from donating their eggs. This causes concern because some of the short-term effects can be severe. The long-term effects have not even been discovered yet, due to the lack of clinical studies on this subject.
Some of the most recent studies have found donors are at the least risk of suffering with OHSS when the final oocytes maturation was induced with GnRH agonist, rather than recombinant HCG. Both of these hormones produced approximately the same number of mature eggs and rates of fertilization. However, a study that was done in the Netherlands found ten documented cases of IVF deaths (rate of 1:10,000). All of the patients that died had been treated with GnRH agonists. None of these cases was published in scientific literature.
These are the reasons that egg donation may not be all that it’s ‘cracked up’ to be.