Donor Egg Risks & Complications
Prior to beginning a donor egg cycle, it is highly recommended that egg donors thoroughly discuss all potential risks and side effects of egg donation with their fertility physician.
There are several risks and side effects that may be associated with providing donor eggs:
- Blood drawing - mild discomfort and some risk of developing a bruise at the needle site.
- Fertility Drugs - moderate weight gain, mood changes, stomach pressure, headaches, allergic reaction, Ovarian Hyper-Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS) of the ovaries (5% chance in any cycle). In very rare cases, hyperstimulation could lead to enlarged ovaries and an increased susceptibility to develop blood clots necessitating hospitalization. In very rare cases it may also lead to the development of fluid in the abdomen or lungs, kidney failure, or stroke. In extremely rare cases, an enlarged hyperstimulated ovary will rupture. This may necessitate general anesthesia and major surgery, with all the inherited risks. Loss of one or both ovaries is possible. The risk of hyperstimulation is minimized if the follicles are aspirated as is planned to occur at the donor egg retrieval. The risk increases if, after taking the fertility medications to stimulate the ovaries, you choose not to undergo the egg retrieval. There also exists an unlikely possibility of a lasting effect on your pelvic organs, including pain, irregular menstrual function, or impairment of future fertility. Finally, an association between fertility drugs and ovarian cancer has been suggested but not proven.
- Antibiotics - possible allergic reaction which, in rare cases, may be severe.
- Ultrasound guided egg retrieval - mild to moderate discomfort after the procedure. Potentially serious complications include bleeding, infection, and injury to the bowel or blood vessels. In extremely rare circumstances, surgery may be necessary to repair damage to internal organs or to control significant internal bleeding (i.e., hemorrhage). Anesthesia will be necessary for the egg retrieval. (The risks associated with anesthesia will be explained during a consultation with an anesthesiologist.) There may be additional risks of donating eggs, which at the present time have not yet been identified. Since it is theoretically possible that not all of the developed eggs will be recovered at the time of retrieval, there is a risk that you may become pregnant if you engage in unprotected intercourse during the egg donation cycle(s).
- Ultrasound examinations - no known risks, minimal discomfort.
- Torsion - twisting of an enlarged ovary resulting in sudden onset of severe abdominal pain. Onset during exercise or other agitating movement is common.
- Psychological Distress - sometimes associated with assisted reproductive technology procedures.
- Inconvenience - monitoring procedures during the period of stimulation, and the time needed to perform the egg retrieval itself will result in a certain amount of inconvenience and lost time.
- Potential Long Term Risks - no definitive studies have demonstrated any link between egg donation and infertility, cancer, or any other significant long-term health problems. Since egg donation is a relatively new procedure, we hope to learn more about the long-term effects of donor eggs in the future when additional research becomes available.