Egg donation: risks
One question above all others that occupies the mind of a woman who is considering donating her eggs is: what are the risks associated with egg donation? This is a very understandable and important question. Donating your eggs is a big decision and it is important that everyone considering donation gets answers to all their questions before making it.
Before you make the decision to donate your eggs, you will meet with a doctor and discuss the medical aspects of donation with them. There are usually no significant side effects or risks to egg donation. The health of our egg donors is extremely important to us.
It’s good to remember that the doctor treating the potential donor will assess individually whether the woman in question is able to donate eggs and whether it is advisable in her particular case. Only women deemed not at risk of health hazards due to egg donation are accepted as donors. We have collected the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the risks of egg donation below.
No, it doesn’t. When donating eggs, the donor’s ovaries are stimulated in the same way as in IVF (in vitro fertilisation). During a normal menstrual cycle, a woman’s ovaries mature and release one egg, while the other ovarian follicles that have begun to grow then wither. In preparation for the donation of eggs, the donor is given hormone treatment to stimulate the growth of several, instead of just one, of the follicles currently developing in the ovaries, and to encourage the maturation of the eggs the follicles contain so that they can be fertilised. Consequently, the stimulation utilises only the eggs that are naturally developing during the menstrual cycle in question and that would otherwise be wasted.
Yes. Because the stimulation of the ovaries for egg donation occurs in the same way as in normal in vitro fertilisation, there is a risk of hyperstimulation. That is why we actively monitor the treatment and health of the donor. Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) occurs when a woman is very sensitive to the injected hormone medications used during the treatment and her body has a stronger than usual response to them. In such cases, dozens of follicles may develop in the ovaries, causing the ovaries to swell and fluid to leak into the abdominal cavity. Usually, OHSS improves on its own with rest and plenty of liquids at home, but in more severe cases hospital treatment may be required. The risk of ovarian hyperstimulation is approximately 2–5%.
Egg collection is a very familiar and everyday procedure for our doctors, and complications occur in less than 1% of all egg donors. Because the ovarian follicles are emptied using a needle, you may experience spotting in connection with the egg retrieval, or an infection where the needle has been inserted through the vaginal wall. Some extremely rare risks include ovarian torsion, where an ovary becomes twisted around its supportive tissues, and various types of blood clots inside a blood vessel, the incidence of which is around less than 1%.
The same hormones that a woman’s body produces are used in the hormone stimulation of an egg donor. During the stimulation, more of these hormones are injected into her body to encourage more eggs than usual to grow and mature. A very small proportion of donors say they found themselves getting more frequently emotional than usual during the hormone therapy (for example, crying more easily). For many women, the donation process itself brings up a lot of emotions, because it makes them think about the important questions in life.
No, you won’t. During the egg donation process, the ovaries are stimulated to grow the follicles naturally developing in them during the menstrual cycle in question and to encourage the eggs in the follicles to become fertile. In other words, the stimulation utilises only the eggs that are naturally developing during the menstrual cycle in question and that would otherwise be wasted. Consequently, you use as many eggs during the donation cycle as you would naturally without the donation. Donating eggs does not promote early menopause in any way.
Egg donation does not affect a woman’s hormonal functions or menstrual cycle after the donation. The hormone therapy is begun after the donor’s period has started (usually on the second day of the cycle) and the injections are given for about 10 days. Around the time the ovulation occurs, the eggs are collected, after which the donor’s period will start as normal. It is very important to take good care of contraception during and after the stimulation.
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