The process of Egg Donation comes with some risks. We know that the following risks and/or side effects do exist:
Medication Side-Effects: Most donors have bloating and cramping- it’s almost a given. Other possible side-effects are sharp pains, nausea, constipation, headaches, mood swings, and feeling tired, to name a few. Some donors may have bruising and discomfort.
Short-Term Risk: A significant risk to egg donation is ovarian hyperstimulation or OHSS. This is where a donor’s body experiences more discomfort than other donor’s due to enlarged ovaries and fluid buildup in the abdominal cavity. This will cause more severe cramping, bloating, and discomfort. It is important to note that OHSS can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Below, we do our best to combine our 10 plus years of experience plus research support, to identify the variations of the 3 different levels.
- 10-30% of donors can face mild OHSS symptoms that does not require further treatment. These symptoms can be managed with additional fluids, pain medications, and rest. Your 1–3-day normal recovery is more like 4-5 days. Donors can experience nausea, sharp pains, temporary weight gain, and overall discomfort to name a few common symptoms.
- Only 5-10% of donors experience moderate OHSS which would require follow up care by a fertility clinic and sometimes a short ER trip for IV fluids, pain management, or fluid removal. Most donors who experience OHSS are very uncomfortable for 3-7 days and would require pain medications and possible aspiration/removal of the fluid from the abdomen.
- Only 1% of donors experience severe OHSS which would require follow up care starting with an ER trip and then admission into a hospital for 1-4 days for treatment and observation. More information about OHSS can be found here.
Additional short term risks: One potential risk, although extremely rare, is ovarian torsion. This is when the ovary twists around its supporting tissues. When this happens, it is imperative to seek care from a medical professional as this twisting can cut off the blood supply and lead to tissue death.
Cyst Formation – medications can result in the development of large cysts. Most disappear without intervention. Rare cases (less than 1%), can lead to discomfort that could result in hospitalization. If a rupture occurs, emergency surgery may be required to stop the bleeding and could result in the loss of ovary or ovaries (.1% of cycles).
Long Term Risk: The biggest risk to egg donation is the unknown risk. There are currently no long-term studies that pertain to egg donation, and how it affects your future health, exclusively. The governing body of Assisted Reproductive Technology that sets the rules and guidelines for the Egg Donation procedure and Donor requirements is called the ASRM, or the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. They have an article that addresses risks which is linked here.
Another risk is a psychological risk. Egg donation may entail potential psychological risks (ambivalence, regret, etc.) that might occur around the time of the procedure or years later.
Procedural Risks: Risk of serious complications is 1 in 1,000 and is similar to that of any medical procedure– internal bleeding, blood transfusion, organ infection and also the general risks associated with anesthesia.